Shock as town man (52) dies suddenly in India at weekend

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A SERVICE of thanksgiving was held at First Portadown Presbyterian Church last Friday for the life of John Montgomery who died suddenly in India at the weekend.

Mr Montgomery (52) had a close association with the Woodstock International Christian School in Mussoorie, Uttaranchal, in the far north of India, having taught maths and science subjects and provided student support there for seven years, followed by a post at Hebron School in the East of India, and then having come home to Northern Ireland for the past four years.

A man of many talents - and many friends - he was the son of the late Sam and Doris Montgomery at Church Road, Portadown. He was born in Belfast, and the family moved to Portadown in 1967. They were members of First Portadown.

John had gone on holiday to India for a friend’s wedding and to meet the many friends he made there during his time teaching in India. His death came as a tremendous shock to everyone who knew him. He had been out for a meal, had complained of feeling unwell and died on his way to hospital.

John is survived by his sisters Gillian Connolly (Carryduff) and Sheila McNeill (Belfast), by his brothers-in-law Noel and David, nephew Ben and nieces Kathy, Fiona, Alison and Sarah. All are devastated by the death of a man whose gifts were many and who was known for his selfless generosity.

He was buried in India, in line with his own wishes, and close friends arranged a simultaneous meeting in a Belfast Hotel to coincide with the time of the funeral - 7.30am UK time at 1pm Indian time. The service in India was at St Paul’s Church, and interment was in the adjoining Christian burial ground.

John Montgomery was educated at Wheatfield Primary School, Belfast, then Edenderry Primary School, Killicomaine Junior High and Portadown College. He then went to Queen’s University - he was sponsored by Harland and Wolff of Belfast - and emerged with a degree in mechanical engineering. Initially he worked for H&W, and his other jobs included a spell at Hyster (later NACCO) in Craigavon. He later added a PGCE teaching qualification to his CV and had a number of teaching

posts, including a lecturer’s post in Galway University, where - in common with all his positions - he immersed himself in the local community.

Most of all, though, he loved the life in India, and Woodstock meant so much to him. He made friendships with many of the staff and students and was enjoying renewing those friendships when he passed away so suddenly and without warning.

He had spent the last four years of his life back in Belfast, where he was a ‘morning’ member of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast, and an ‘evening’ member of First Portadown.

Said Dr Stafford Carson, minister at First Portadown, “John was simply a fine Christian man and his sudden death is profoundly felt at Edenderry. We know that his many friends will want to attend the thanksgiving service where a number of tributes will be paid.”

Photographs of the funeral in India and a video of the service can be viewed on the Woodstock Blog, by following the links through Pete Wildman and the Windy Blog.