Walter S. Montgomery, Sr. (1901-1996)
Walter S. Montgomery was born into an established textile family that did business as Spartan Mills in Spartanburg County, SC. He graduated from VMI in 1920 but did not immediately join the family business. But joined his grandfather’s Montgomery & Crawford Hardware business. When his older brother Al who worked with Walter’s father in the textile business, died unexpectedly at age 24, Walter was thrust into the textile business, October 22, 1922. He became assistant treasurer in 1926. In 1929, upon the death of his father, he became president and treasurer and remained in the presidency for the next 43 years, when he rose to chairman of the board. Along the way, the Milliken and Montgomery families shared many intertwining textile partnerships. Milliken was at first a factor, supplying capital; then Milliken provided marketing; and in the hard times of the Great Depression, Milliken assumed part ownership of Spartan Mills’ plants.
Walter, Sr. was not just president of his mills; he also was active in the region and nationally. By 1946, he became Chair American Cotton Manufacturers Association and an officer of the Cotton Textile Institute. In 1949 they merged to form what became ATMI, renamed in 1962. He was active! In a digest of ATMI historical milestones “Lest We Forget”… Walter S. Montgomery, perhaps one of the most active and most enthusiastic of all the industries’ young leaders, supplied a dynamic personality which accounted for an unusual record of accomplishments. His committees included: Statistics (1950-52); Public relations (1950-51, 55-56); Foreign Trade (1954-55); Membership (1956-57); Economic Policy (1958-60); Economic Stabilization (1972-80); Economic Affairs (1981-1989); Board Member (1947-1989). In addition, he was active on the National Cotton Council – officer (1950-54), Chair 1952-53); South Carolina Textile Manufacturers Association- President 1964-65; Textile Hall Board of Directors; and a Trustee – ITT, and J E Sirrine Foundation. Honors received: South Carolina Business Hall of Fame 1984; SC Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year 1984.
Source: Christiansen, Larry and Carla Kalogeridis, “Montgomery: the best of textiles’ tradition,” Textile World, Oct 1989, p43-