Thelma Lee Howard MontgomeryAugust 27, 1931 ~ October 15, 2017 (age 86)
Thelma Lee Howard Montgomery was born on August 27, 1931 in Campbell, Ohio, the middle child of William and Georgia Words Howard, both of whom have preceded her in death. Her brothers, William, Jr., Oliver, Joseph and sister Elma have also preceded her in death as well. Her parents were blessed with five wonderful children; Sister-In-Law Elizabeth, and Nephew Joseph E. Howard, Jr., of Canada, Brothers-in-Law: Robert, Richard and Charles (Gwendolyn) Montgomery of Youngstown, Ohio have survived her.
Thelma met the love of her life while attending Youngstown State University, the late Oliver Randell Montgomery, Sr., they married on June 12th to this beautiful union five children were born: Darlene, Howard, Brenda, Oliver, Jr. (Barbara), and Edwin (LeSans). They enjoyed 62 years of a story book marriage, until the Lord called him home to be with Him on June 6, 2015. Oliver was an outstanding husband and father, he took excellent care of his precious ‘Thel’ and their children. She wanted for nothing.
She was a wonderful wife, mother, friend and homemaker. A true woman of God, and the third generation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Her maternal grandfather was an AME Pastor and her mother was an AME Stewardess. Thelma loved the Lord and her family. She was pretty, smart and tough. The saying goes, “behind every good man is a good women”, but she was beside the love of her life. She like her husband, Oliver was a true civil rights activist and although he was a national labor union leader, Thelma was a strong supporter. She supported him in all of his battles for justice and equality for everyone. She supported him long before he became the International Director of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) United Steelworkers of America or Secretary to the Civil Rights Committee. Thelma supported her Labor Leader husband as a labor activist, when he was the President of the Youngstown Chapter Negro American Labor Council (NALC), when he served as Board Member and Vice President of the Allegheny County Labor Council and the Community Service Committee, Chaired the Civil Rights Committee, President of the Coalition of the Black Trade Unionist (CBTU), Officer in the AFL-CIO, and when he was organizing demonstrations especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
She graduated from Campbell Mooney High School (1949) and shortly after graduating from high school she attended Youngstown State University, majoring in business. A licensed cosmetologist with other numerous certificates. Thelma believed in education and training. But, she like her husband, dedicated her life to serving God, raising her family, to Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Over the years, she received numerous awards and certificates, such as in the 1990s she received a Penn Hills NAACP Award, and the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) Award. She belonged to the PTA, while her children were growing up, teaching assistant in the local public schools, both in Youngstown, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Voting Rights Activist she also worked at the election polls. She was also a member of AARP and the National Committee of Preserve Social Security and Medicare, just to name a few. But Thelma and Oliver’s proudest achievements were in the success of their children, whom they loved so much. Even though in 2009, after suffering a massive heart attack of which the Lord blessed her to survive, it did fast forward her into Alzheimer’s decease. Nonetheless, she never forgot her husband’s name and she never forgot her children, especially her Darlene Rose.
Thelma belonged to St. James AME Church, Pittsburgh, PA. In her youth she was an active member of St. John AME Church in Ohio, as a young adult she belonged to St. Andrews AME, Youngstown, Ohio, where she sang in the choir and was the secretary, and many years after her husband was transferred to Pittsburgh, due to a promotion to the International Headquarters of the United Steelworkers (1969), she transferred her membership from St. Andrews AME Church to St. James AME Church. Thelma also loved to shop and travel. She traveled to many places with her husband and children.
She is survived by her five children: Darlene, Howard, Rev. Brenda, Oliver, Jr.(Barbara), Edwin (LeSans) and five grandchildren; Regina (Aaron) Schlereth, Lamont (Minnie) Parker, Minister Brian Parker, Oliver R. Montgomery, III and one month old Eve June Montgomery; 3 great-grandchildren; Jai Malik, Arianna, Gia; Brothers-in-Laws, Robert Montgomery, Richard Montgomery, Charles (Gwen) Montgomery, Sr., host of nieces, nephews, cousins, best friend Mary Wright, and friends.