Steve Montgomery and Bill Bless left memorable impressions on many athletes
Senior staff writer
Former Southport High School softball players and coaches of Steve Montgomery’s were among those who honored him at Perry Stadium last week and at his funeral service at Daniel F. O’Riley Funeral Home.
Montgomery, 62, an assistant varsity softball coach to his son, Scott Montgomery, died May 2 after losing his battle against pancreatic cancer. A week before his death he was voted into the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame.
The Southside lost another coaching icon May 6 with the death of Bill Bless, 76, Greenwood, after a lengthy illness. Bless coached football at three area high schools and was the head coach at the University of Indianapolis for 21 years, retiring as the winningest coach in Greyhound history.
Southport’s softball players made a poster (“Forever in our hearts. Forever a Cardinal.”) to honor Montgomery in their dugout Friday and Saturday during the Marion County tourney. The team was coached by assistant Krystal Loomis.
Kathy Stricker, Franklin Central’s only varsity softball coach in the school’s history, praised Montgomery. “He was a great man, a good family man and a great coach. He was always good to us. He was a great competitor for the more than 20 years that we coached against each other. He will be sorrowfully missed.”
Visitation at the stadium featured remembrances and photos of Montgomery’s life as a heralded 1972 graduate of Southport, where he was a football, wrestling and baseball standout. He was named Marion County co-Athlete of the Year.
Montgomery played football and baseball at the University of Indianapolis and still holds some of the school’s batting records. As a running back he helped lead the Greyhounds to their first playoff berth.
An educator/coach for 37 years, he was first hired as a physical education teacher at Meridian Middle. He later served as an assistant football coach at Southport High.
Montgomery started the Cardinals’ softball program and coached there for more than 20 years. He returned to assist his son.
Montgomery had several nicknames from his schoolboy days: “Dumpy,” “Stump,” “Fireplug,” “Monty” and “Mongo.”
His friends acknowledged him as “a great athlete, a nice guy with a great smile and warm heart and a great person.”
“What a legacy he leaves for others to emulate,” Jim and Linda Anderson said. “His strong character will be sorely missed as will his presence at Southport High School.”
In addition to his son, Montgomery is survived by wife Judy (Kemmerer) Montgomery, daughter Sarah Downs, his mother, two brothers, two grandchildren and three stepgrandchildren.
Bless’ coaching legacy
Bless also leaves a coaching legacy that lives on with sons Mark, Scott and Tim, all of whom are successful high school football coaches at Avon, Bloomington North and Columbus North, respectively.
Bless is a member of the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and University of Indianapolis Athletics Hall of Fame. He was a professor of health and physical education for 29 years at UIndy. He served on the Greenwood City Council for 20 years and was acting mayor in 1991. He was a 1963 graduate of the University of Indianapolis and was co-captain of the football team.
He is survived by wife Beverly (Staub) Bless, one daughter and six grandchildren.
Services were held Tuesday at G.H. Herrmann Greenwood Funeral Home at The Gardens at Olive Branch Road.