Dr. Philip O'Bryan Montgomery Jr., pathology professor emeritus and UT Southwestern visionary, remembered for his many contributions

DALLAS  — Dec. 19, 2005 — Dr. Philip O'Bryan Montgomery Jr., a celebrated leader who played a central role in the development of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Department of Pathology, died Saturday in Dallas at the age of 84.

Dr. Philip O'Bryan Montgomery Jr.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at St. Mark’s School of Texas, 10600 Preston Rd.

Philip O'Bryan Montgomery Jr. was born in 1921. The son of a builder, he initially studied engineering at Southern Methodist University to please his father. But after two years he turned to medicine and became a doctor, his boyhood dream.

In 1952 he came to Southwestern Medical School to practice and teach pathology. Over 50 years later, UT Southwestern's status as a world-class medical center is in many ways because of Dr. Montgomery’s signature involvement.

“In his dignified, courtly, and patient but tenacious way, he played a uniquely important role in the history of 20th century Dallas, ” said Dr. Kern Wildenthal, president of UT Southwestern. “In the eyes of knowledgeable historians, Philip O’B. Montgomery, Jr. will be firmly ranked among a handful of top leaders who were responsible for transforming Dallas into a major metropolitan community that is now positioned to become one of the great world centers of the 21st  century.

“Because of his self‑effacing manner, it is perhaps insufficiently realized by many what a crucial role he also played in UT Southwestern’s emergence as one of the great medical centers in the world. In his half‑century of dedicated service and leadership at UT Southwestern, he played an absolutely pivotal role in building essential bridges between the medical center and the broader Dallas community and, literally, in building the medical center as we know it today,” he said.

When Southwestern Medical School was founded in 1943, Dr. Montgomery, a Dallas native, was away studying medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He graduated in 1945, spent a year interning in Cooperstown , N.Y., and then answered the Army Reserve's postwar call.

While assigned to a veterans hospital in McKinney, Dr. Montgomery learned he had tuberculosis. He was 26. Because the only treatment in the 1940s was total bed rest, he was forced to spend nine months in a Denver sanitarium. When Dr. Montgomery was well enough to leave, he returned to Dallas and UT Southwestern. He had wanted to be a surgeon, but reasoned that he should choose a less physically demanding specialty because of his tuberculosis. He chose to be a pathologist, to study tissue and learn about disease.

As an assistant professor at the struggling medical school, Dr. Montgomery needed money to pursue his ideas for research and education. He called on Eugene McDermott, a family friend and a co-founder of Texas Instruments. Thus began a long partnership between UT Southwestern and one of Dallas most generous and influential benefactors.

In 1990 the Eugene McDermott Foundation and the Biological Humanics Foundation, which Mr. McDermott had founded, established a distinguished chair in developmental biology at UT Southwestern in his honor. Dr. Montgomery, who over the years had received many awards and accolades for his research, said at the time that the tribute was one of the most meaningful.

Margaret McDermott, wife of the late Eugene McDermott said: “I considered knowing Philip one of those rare, wonderful, enriching things in life.”

Mary McDermott Cook, their daughter, said Dr. Montgomery was a true friend over the years. “My father was his mentor, and he, in turn, was mine.” she said. “I loved him very much, not only for what he did for the city of Dallas , but for the truly great man that he was.”

Early in his medical career, Dr. Montgomery had attracted the attention of the research world by being among the first to characterize fibrinoid, the change in the blood vessel walls of people with high blood pressure. Over cocktails one night in 1955, Dr. Montgomery and F.F. Roberts, a bioengineer, sketched on the back of an envelope the rough blueprints for Ultraviolet Flying Spot Television Microscopy. Their instrument demonstrated for the first time the effects of ultraviolet light on cells.

In 1962 he received a career development award from the National Institutes of Health. He put together a team of scientists that, like hundreds of others, submitted experiment proposals to NASA for use on the Skylab space project. NASA selected 15 projects, including Dr. Montgomery’s, which tested the effects of weightlessness on human cells.

Even while preparing for experiments in space, Dr. Montgomery was making a difference on the ground, away from the laboratory.

In 1968 he was named associate dean of Southwestern Medical School and was put in charge of planning a $40 million project to double the size of the campus and the number of students. He was chairman of five faculty committees working on the expansion. Within 18 months, they had a plan.

His handling of the expansion in Dallas impressed Dr. Charles LeMaistre, then deputy chancellor of the UT System. In 1970 Dr. Montgomery was appointed Dr. LeMaistre's special assistant. His first assignment was to assist with the planning and development of the UT Medical School at Houston. Then he was put in charge of the master plan for UT Dallas.

In 1974 President Nixon nominated Dr. Montgomery to the board of regents of the new, first and only military medical school in the country. A few months later, he was also elected president of the board of directors of the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund.

After Dr. Montgomery completed his special assignments for the UT System, he returned to UT Southwestern, directing its cancer center and teaching and practicing pathology.

Then, as Dallas leaders struggled to devise a downtown arts district, Mayor Jack Evans called on Dr. Montgomery to coordinate the project that would forever change art, music and theater in the city.

In 1983 his work for the Arts District earned him the prestigious Linz Award, which is presented to the person whose deeds bring the greatest benefit to the community. D Magazine called him the “Arts District Dreamer” and named him one of the “50 People Who Made Dallas.” That same year Dr. Montgomery was recognized with the TACA Silver Cup Award, the ARCO Volunteer of the Year Award, the Press Club of Dallas’ Headliner of the Year Award, the Governor’s Volunteer Award, and the Obelisk Award from the Dallas Business Committee for the Arts — the only Dallasite ever to be honored with all these distinctions.

Dr. Montgomery also made contributions in numerous other spheres, as well.  He served as president of the St. Mark’s School of Texas Board of Directors, and in leadership positions at the Lamplighter School, the American Cancer Society, the National Mental Health Association, the YMCA, the Dallas Public Library, the World Affairs Council in Dallas, Planned Parenthood, the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas, and others.

In 1987, an anonymous donor established a distinguished presidential chair in academic administration. Soon after, Dr. Montgomery, through a substantial contribution to Southwestern Medical Foundation, made a major addition to the chair’s coffers, and the chair was named in his honor. Its holder is UT Southwestern president Dr. Wildenthal, who first met Dr. Montgomery as a student in his pathology classroom.

In 1991 Dr. Montgomery was appointed by the UT System Board of Regents as an Ashbel Smith Professor, one of the highest honors given to a faculty member in the UT System.

In 1997 Dr. Montgomery provided funds for the Dr. Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Professorship in Surgical Pathology at UT Southwestern.

“I watched my friend Phil Montgomery devote half a century to serving UT Southwestern,” Dallas philanthropist Peter O’Donnell said. “He was an educator, a researcher and an associate dean. He recruited students and faculty and planned campuses. For many people in the community, he was an unpaid consultant who referred them to experts at the medical center for their health problems. He was a money-raiser and a money-giver. He was knowledgeable, analytical, scientific, attentive and caring. In short, he was a perfect doctor.”

Dr. Montgomery is survived by Ruth Ann, his wife of more than 50 years.  The couple had four sons, Philip III, Harold, Carter and Will.



Media Contact: Rachel Skei Donihoo

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