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Helene Montgomery

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Photo Helene Montgomery A famously attractive figure at the San Francisco Press and Union League Club of the 1950s and '60s and longtime St. Helena resident, died on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13, in Napa, CA. She was 93. Born Helene Louise Per Lee in New York City in 1914, she came West with her twice-widowed mother as a teenager to Reno, NV, at the onset of the Great Depression. She attended the University of Nevada from 1930-1934, where she took a B.S. in botany and a B.A. in English literature, and where she met and later married Edward S. Montgomery, late of the SF Examiner, who was to become, legend has it, the first Hearst reporter to win an award from the legacy of Joseph Pulitzer. Ed Montgomery died in 1992. When her husband served two terms as the Press Club's president in the '50s, Mrs. Montgomery was to be seen regularly at the Club's storied Gang Dinners, often sharing the dais with such international luminaries as Haile Sellassi, Vyacheslav Molotov and Queen Frederika of Greece. At these affairs, she reliably struck a stunning presence, often in gowns she designed and created herself. Mrs. Montgomery was always first a mother and housewife, but also found time to volunteer for local charities, notably the hospital auxiliaries of Mills Hospital, Burlingame and Davies Hospital, SF. She is survived by her daughter, Diana Lavagnino of St. Helena; and son, Douglas of SF, as well as eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Services private. Memorial donations may be made to the Nature Conservancy.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from May 15 to May 20, 2007
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