A group of state and local elected officials and dignitaries handed out resolutions and praise to Billy “Coach” Montgomery Wednesday in celebration of his years of service to Bossier Parish as an educator, coach and state representative.
Montgomery officially retired from the Bossier Parish Police Jury after serving since 2008 as special projects coordinator and assistant to parish administrator Bill Altimus. Friends, family and admirers packed the parish police jury meeting room to hear officials and friends speak of his accomplishments.
“I have known and worked with Billy Montgomery for many years and I can truthfully say he is the example of dedication and hard work,” former Louisiana Senate President John Alario said. “He always served his district well, but if someone asked for his help, he never asked who their representative was. He would do whatever he could to assist them, no matter where they lived.”
Alario was joined in the celebration by Bossier Parish Police Jury President Jerome Darby, Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler, State Sen. Barrow Peacock and Northwestern State University head basketball coach Mike McConathy.
Also, Joe Salter representing Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington honored Montgomery. Sharing personal observations about “Coach” were life-long friends Pesky Hill and Billy Grisham.
Montgomery came to the police jury after serving 20 years in the state legislature. His stellar service record began early when he was named “New Legislator of the Year” by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. That was followed by the honor of “Distinguished Legislator” from the La. Association of Educators in 1989. He was the only individual to receive the International Police Award in 1990.
He served as chairman of the House Legislative Services Council and was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means committee. He also served on 10 additional panels during his years in the House including the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Outlay, the Juvenile Justice Commission and Ad Hoc Advisory Commission and the I-49 Extension Feasibility and Funding Task Force.
Montgomery is credited for “coaching” the state into nearly $270 million in investments to projects in Bossier Parish and northwest Louisiana. Included in that total is roughly $2.76 million for secondary road projects.
He was the driving force behind obtaining $57 million for land acquisition and construction of a new Bossier Parish Community College. In 2004, a new BPCC campus on U.S. Hwy. 80 east was ready for students. In recognition for his service on behalf of the rapidly growing community college, the gymnasium at the school now bears his name.
During his career Montgomery was instrumental in obtaining $l50 million for I-49 north and south, $50 million for the Cyber Command Center in Bossier City, $9.7 million for Shreveport’s Sci-Port, $20.6 million for jails in Bossier and Caddo parishes, $4.8 million for the Northwest Louisiana Crime Lab and $7.8 million for the state’s portion of the Northwest Louisiana Veterans’ Home.
As a reward for his accomplishments in local and state politics and to show the respect he earned, Montgomery was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2012, joining the most memorable names in Louisiana history.
Senator Peacock presented Montgomery with a resolution of appreciation which he said could be one of the longest such document approved by the Legislature.
“This resolution is three pages long and contains more ‘whereas’ statements than you have ever seen,” Peacock said.
“It’s an honor to present this to you and I imagine it could have been longer. Your life is one of service.”
In addition to his other duties, Montgomery served as a legislative liaison to state government for the police jury. His contacts in Baton Rouge remained strong.
“It was amazing to go to the legislature with him,” said Parish Administrator Bill Altimus. “He couldn’t go anywhere without someone hollering ‘Hey Coach,’ at him. Everyone knew him and respected him. He was and is a very valuable asset for Bossier Parish.”
In his pre-legislative career, Montgomery posted a 305-68 career record as a basketball coach at Haughton and Lafayette High that included two state championships and one runner-up, 10 playoff appearances in 10 years and five trips to the Top Twenty championship round.
He was named state Coach of the Year in ’67-’68 and Acadiana Coach of the Year during his one year at the helm of Lafayette High in 1970. Montgomery has been recognized as one of the 10 most influential people in Louisiana High School sports. In 1991, he reached a career pinnacle when he was inducted into the Louisiana High School Coaches and Administration Hall of Fame.
From 1970 until 1988, Montgomery served first as assistant principal, then spent five years as principal at Haughton High.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Montgomery said in an earlier interview. “I’ve met some great people who have helped me, and still help me, more than I could imagine. It’s been a great ride and I’m still enjoying every minute of it.”