Montgomery standing outdoors with her arms around two young children's shoulders
Mary Montgomery and her grandchildren, Josie and Elodie. Courtesy of her family

Mary Montgomery, a resident of Berkeley for 32 years, died Aug. 10 at Casa Rosa Elder Care in Arroyo Grande, California.  She was 85 years old.

Mary was born Aug. 21, 1937, in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Deane and Kay Montgomery, and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. Deane was a mathematician, while Kay was an artist. Mary attended Swarthmore College, graduating in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

After working in New York as a librarian for Time-Life, and inspired by reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, Mary attended the University of Chicago and received a Master of Library Science degree.

After marrying, she and her husband, Henry Heck, lived in Göttingen, Germany, for two years before moving to Berkeley. Her daughters, Katherine and Julia, were born while they resided in a flat on Josephine Street. They enjoyed day trips to Angel Island, visits to the little farm in Tilden Park and sampling the many cuisines available in the Bay Area.

Her husband’s job took them to Palo Alto, where she worked as a librarian and the family enjoyed playing music with the Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band. They later moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she worked as a tax preparer for H&R Block, met many interesting residents, and helped several through nerve-wracking tax audits. In 1995, she returned to Berkeley and moved into a house with a beautiful garden on Portland Avenue.  

Mary was funny and generous and had many friends. A lover of tea, movies, conversation, family history and MSNBC, Mary was also a voracious reader and encouraged reading in others. As a former librarian she had a wide-ranging knowledge of authors, and could always name a new book to try if you told her another author you liked.

She enjoyed walks at the Berkeley Marina and trips to the recycling center to find new books to read, and would always pick out books and DVDs for others. In the 2000s, Mary volunteered doing tax preparation with the IRS’s free program, VITA, as well as with Meals on Wheels of Albany, and enjoyed connecting and talking with their clientele. 

Mary was preceded in death by her parents and by her brother, Dick Montgomery, who died in 1978. She is survived by her daughters; their spouses, Brian Mays and Dan Troy; and four grandchildren: Douglas and Owen Troy, and Elodie and Josie Mays. If you are so moved, donations may be made to Planned Parenthood or the American Friends Service Committee.