Wallace G. "Wally" Montague, researcher

He had also been a dance instructor

October 25, 2012|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Wallace G. "Wally" Montague, a retired Lockheed-Martin Corp. researcher and dance instructor, died Oct. 18 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at his Charles Town, W.Va., home.

The longtime Pikesville resident was 88.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Darley Avenue, Wallace Gordon Montague was a graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces, where he successfully completed pilot training.

He flew with the 5th Air Force's 342nd Fighter Squadron in the Pacific. He was renowned for surviving a 1,500-foot free fall into the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 7, 1945, when his parachute failed after he bailed out of his P-47 Thunderbolt fighter.

Family members said the extent of his injuries was not immediately known, and it wasn't until some years later that he was diagnosed with compression fractures of his neck and spine.

He was discharged in 1948. His decorations included the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

"He was, at the time, rendered unfit for further military service and was awarded retirement pay as a first lieutenant for the rest of his life," said his son, Robert G. Montague of Shannondale, W.Va.

He was married in 1948 to the former Sara Louise Gaffney.

"Wally's injuries never stopped him from enjoying his love of dancing," his son said.

The couple left their jobs at the Calvert Distillery in Relay and became full-time dance instructors, working at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Baltimore. They gave ballroom dance exhibitions throughout the country.

In the late 1950s, Mr. Montague left the dance circuit and went to work in the research department of the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River. He retired in 1986 from Lockheed-Martin Corp.

Mr. Montague retained an interest in flying and flew his Piper PA-12 until the late 1970s. He flew with his son, with whom he shared ownership of a Russian Yak-52, which they took to East Coast air shows.

The couple moved to Shannondale, W.Va., in 2005 to the log cabin home they built in 1956.

Mrs. Montague, a retired educator, died in 2007.

A private memorial service will be held at Shannondale at a future date.

His son and daughter-in-law, Cynthia Montague, are his only survivors.


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