Jan McMillan Montgomery
January 21, 1930 – May 20, 2011
Jan McMillan Montgomery died peacefully in her sleep at 3 a.m. on May 20th. Jan was born on January 21st, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, to Kathryn Uihlein Rohnert McMillan and Hugh McMillan. After graduating from Smith College with a degree in History, she worked in advertising, then publishing as an editor for Simon and Schuster in Manhattan.
Jan lived with her family in “The Valley” in Katonah, New York for 20 years. There she taught natural history in several elementary schools, served on the conservation advisory council, helped establish a recycling center and an area bikeway, and worked to preserve local wetlands. Years after leaving the East Coast she donated her land to the Beaver Dam Sanctuary.
Jan moved with her family to Santa Barbara in 1975 and joined the first docent class at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, specializing in Chumash Culture. She was an enthusiastic equestrienne, member of the Santa Ynez Valley Hunt and the Sage Hens. In 1984 she suffered a spinal chord injury from a fall while horseback riding in a steeplechase. She said, “When a door closes, you open a window,” and faced her challenges with grace, great courage and a marvelous sense of humor. She used her vast knowledge of the natural world to advise people in a wide variety of environmental and conservation organizations. She was extremely generous, always sharing her time and resources with those in need.
Jan enjoyed birding, dogs, PBS, NPR, reading, Book Club, current events class, the Ensemble Theatre, the Zoo, attending fundraising events for community non-profits and local politicians, going to the movies, whale watching and hanging out on the wharf. During many hours of swim therapy, she swam the equivalent of many trips to and around the Channel Islands.
She traveled to 6 of 7 continents and many western road trips to National Parks. In the last 7 years she traveled to Alaska, Santa Fe, New England, Northern Europe and the Baltic, Hawaii, the Caribbean and most recently, (May 1-6) a wonderful family vacation to Yosemite.
Jan leaves three children, John B. (Linda Patten), William W. (Beki Ries) and Kathryn (Gary Allen), and two beloved grandchildren, Spencer and Paige Montgomery, and her dog Charley. Also left, a devoted group of nurses and caregivers, many with her for over 20 years. To these amazing women, we extend our deepest love and appreciation for their Tender Loving Care of our mother.
“Remarkable Jan” had a devoted circle of close friends, a wide variety of admirers and inspired many with her indomitable spirit, tremendous courage, community involvement, love of nature, sense of adventure and endless humor.
Jan/Mom, We Love You and feel your beautiful presence Everywhere.
Come celebrate her Life Well Lived at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara on June 19th at 5 p.m, we will be outside, across the creek. Bring memories and stories to share. Chocolate and Wine will be served. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara or the Environmental Defense Center of SB.