Irene Montague, widow of the late Charles E. Montague, Jr. passed away peacefully at her Jackson Ave. home on Thursday, August 30. She was to turn 100 on October 3. She was born in 1918 in Jerome, PA to the Very Reverend George (an immigrant of Russian descent) and Mary Kropchak Alexy. Her first language was Russian. Irene’s father was a Russian Orthodox priest who ministered to the many coal miners of Russian descent in Appalachia. She spent most of her childhood in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, residing in Gary, Whitman, and Logan. After graduating from high school in Mount Olive, Illinois in 1937, she returned to West Virginia to begin her training as a nurse. Dr. Henry Hatfield, nephew of famed feuding clan leader Devil Anse Hatfield, helped her secure a training slot at Memorial Hospital in Huntington. She became a registered nurse (RN) in 1940 and the following year took an RN job at what is now Kings Daughters Medical Center in Ashland. While at Kings Daughters she met her future husband, a noted realtor and the city’s de facto historian. They were married in 1942. Charles’ family enjoyed referring to their marriage as “East meets West”, due to his traditional Kentucky roots and her Russian heritage.
Irene had a dynamic life force that rarely rested. It was an understatement to say she didn’t have a lazy bone in her body. After working as an RN for a number of years, she quit nursing to raise her three successful sons. Much if the vitality that she had poured into her nursing, she redirected into a concerted effort to motivate her sons to hard work. A well-remembered refrain of their upbringing was “Is that the best you can do?” When her mother-in-law, the late Saja Montague, was incapacitated and bedridden by a stroke, Irene provided her loving care for the remaining 11 years of her life. When Irene turned 68, she became a receptionist and aide at her son Charles’ dental office on Central Ave., a position she held with gusto until she was 97 years old! She thus maintained her lifelong interest in health care. Blessed with a vigorous constitution, she maintained her mobility until the day she died. She lived in Ashland for 77 years, and was a member of the First United Methodist Church for 76 of those years.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by her brother, Paul Alexy, and sisters Nadia (Charles) Hardy, and Jean (Jack) Zeile.
She is survived and will be sorely missed by her sons, Dr. Charles E. Montague III, an Ashland Dentist, Phillip G. (Teresa) Montague of Ashland, mining engineer and president of Colane Corporation and Dr. J. Jerome Montague, a wildlife ecologist, Science Advisor at Alaskan Command, Eagle River, Alaska. She is also survived by her grandchildren Sara (Alex) Miller of Ocean Springs, MS, Dr. Alexander Montague of Rochester, NY, Clint (Catie) Montague of Weston, CT and Natasha Montague of Alexandria, VA. as well as a great-granddaughter, Afton Rose Miller.
Visitation will be from 6-8 PM Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018 at Steen Funeral Home Central Ave. Rev. John Street will conduct the funeral on Thursday at 10 AM, also at Steen Funeral Home Chapel.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1670, Ashland, KY 41105
Online condolence to www.steenfuneralhome.com