- [S106] The Mountain Press, 11 Jul 2005.
Montgomery's father worked for the Gatlinburg police department, rising to the level of assistant chief. His brother, Harry, was chief of police there until May of last year.
Thanks to their father, both he and Harry were around people in law enforcement throughout their childhood.
"All my life, I had a hankering for law enforcement because those folks made a good impression on me when I was growing up," he said. "I just couldn't quite get that out of my system."
Fulfilling a dream
He first ran for sheriff in 1966, after serving for six years as a justice of the peace - the same position as a county commissioner today. He didn't win that year, but he never stopped thinking about it.
After working as a salesman at the John Sevier Motor Company, and at Atchley Funeral Home, he and his wife, Betty Jo, owned a service station in Gatlinburg before he finally moved into law enforcement as a U.S. marshal.
Montgomery's job might have been in the East Tennessee district, but it took him all over.
Marshals provide security in court and for court officials and serve warrants for the courts. They also provide security for witnesses, including those in the Witness Protection Agency.
In addition to traveling to different areas to help provide security or for other purposes, they often watch over witnesses from other areas - especially when an attorney general named Rudy Guliani was cracking down on the Mob, he said.
"We worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but we made good money," he said.
He left that job in 1993, determined to make another run at sheriff. That time he was successful, and he has remained in the office ever since.
"I wanted to fulfill the desire I had all those years, and I felt like I had something I could offer the people of the county," he said. "It was a humbling feeling to know that many people put their trust in me."
Working for improvements
Montgomery said he feels his exposure to the federal government helped him obtain grants that have improved the department.
For example, the department has 14 school resource officers and two D.A.R.E. officers in county schools, and they used grants to help begin funding all those positions, he said.
Having those additional funds the first few years helped them gradually build up the money for the position in the budget.
"It kind of keeps you ahead of the curve," Montgomery said.
All but one of the department's detectives have graduated from the National Forensics Academy, and the last one is set to graduate from it soon, he said.
Detectives have credited their training with helping them crack three recent homicides - the death of Tammy Estelle Sellers in April and that of Sharon Jeanne Acosta and her unborn child last week.
Montgomery said the basics of law enforcement and crime solving haven't changed, but the technology used to do both has.
He tries to keep his personnel as well equipped as they are well trained.
"We have a crime scene vehicle that's as well equipped as anybody's," he said.
The county and local police departments are also in the process of upgrading their cruisers with computers that will help officers find information on warrants and other data while on the road.
He credited the county commission for giving the department the money to purchase the new equipment that helps his people succeed.
"It just thrills me that we're able to purchase this equipment," Montgomery said.
Montgomery's duties also include seeing that his personnel are doing what's expected of them, but he said generally that's not a problem in his department.
"These people are so good," he said, "you don't have much to worry about."
He tries to let the detectives or deputies in charge of a case do most of the speaking to the press, he said, so that they get the credit they've earned but also so they can control the information that is released.
"I've got faith in them, and it's worked out well," he said.
It's all in the family
When it comes to the disputes and situations that can take up much of the workday for his personnel, he said he tries to remember the philosophy his father used:
"He said many times, if you can solve a problem without putting a person in jail, that's pretty good work," Montgomery said.
It was his grandfather, Dr. Bruce Montgomery - Bruce and Harry's "Papaw" - who stirred his interest in politics.
The doctor held several local offices himself and was active in regional politics as well.
When he started out as a doctor, he made his rounds on horseback. He was one of the first people in Sevier County to own a car, but as Bruce and Harry explained, he rarely, if ever, drove it - his children and grandchildren drove him instead.
Those drives weren't just for house calls. Their grandfather held local offices himself, and Bruce said he regularly drove him to political events and gatherings.
"I don't know if there was ever in his lifetime an election he wasn't involved in," the sheriff said.
The passion those trips created has lasted as long as his love of law enforcement.
He's no stranger to hard work
In addition to serving as sheriff and justice of the peace, he has also served as a Republican member of the election commission and on the tax equalization board.
He's been to three presidential inaugurations, served as a delegate in the 2000 convention, and was an elector for the state of Tennessee in the 2004 election.
He was named the Republican Party's 1996 Statesmen of the Year for the First Congressional District.
"That was a great honor," he said.
He's made some influential friends in the process, and he said he tries to use those ties to help people here.
"The good thing about politics is, you can help a lot of people if you get them in touch with the right people," he said. "That's been my enjoyment of what little I've contributed to the political arena."
Montgomery is no stranger to struggle, or to hard work. He took his first job at age 13, working at a service station in Gatlinburg.
The following year, he moved to an Esso gas station, where he kept working throughout high school.
Working at the full-service stations of the past was a different job from sitting behind the counter of a modern convenience store, he said.
"You did it all," he recalled. "When a car pulled up in those days, you washed the windows, asked them if they wanted the car swept, checked the tire pressure, and whatever else they wanted," he said.
He was working at that station when he noticed a young lady who regularly went past the station. Betty Jo Loveday was working at a doctor's office next door.
"She'd go to the post office and walk by the service station, and we got acquainted that way," he said.
The two have been married since 1952. They are the parents of Susan Montgomery, of Gatlinburg, and Cathy Jo Pittman, of Knoxville, and grandparents of Chad and Erin Pittman.
They owned a service station together in Gatlinburg until 1974, when Betty Jo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
It was the first time they would defy a doctor's diagnosis.
They were told early on that it was likely a matter of time before Betty Jo would be in wheelchair, unable to get around on her own.
Today, she still gets around under her own power. She volunteers once a week at the food bank and is involved in the choir at their church, Montgomery said with some evident pride.
The sheriff has seen his own share of health struggles.
In 1986, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Doctors had to remove his stomach and replace it with a new one made from his intestines. He dropped from 220 pounds down to 160.
The doctors told him to put his affairs in order.
Montgomery went back to work.
"(They) didn't think I'd make it, but God had different plans for me," Montgomery said.
If he'd gone home and sat down and waited for the end, he said, the doctor's prediction probably would have come true.
"I just feel like it wasn't the right call, and it worked out that way," he said.
He still sees his oncologist regularly and he still has to face chemotherapy, but even at age 71, it rarely keeps him from his work, he said.
Montgomery said it's been their faith and their family and friends that have sustained them through the hard times.
"Betty Jo and I have both had health problems, but we've certainly been blessed with our family and friends we go to church with," he said.
"There's nothing like friends, but if God ever blessed a family he's certainly blessed ours."
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 4 May 2006.
Sheriff easily retains post as county's top law enforcement officer
By: JEFF FARRELL, Staff Writer May 04, 2006
Michelle Jephcott/The Mountain Press
Sheriff Bruce Montgomery, center, talks to constituents while awaiting precinct totals Tuesday night.
Sheriff Bruce Montgomery won his fourth campaign Tuesday by a total that eclipsed all three of his challengers.
The vote for Montgomery totaled 7,580, and the total for his three challengers was 5,961. Steve Layman, director of the juvenile services center, was second with 3,220. Dean Lewis, a former Gatlinburg police officer and detective, had 1,985 votes and former deputy Kim Pierce had 756 votes.
The position, which paid $82,210 last year, is the chief law enforcement position for the county. In addition to patrolling the county, the sheriff's department is responsible for overseeing the county jail and providing security for county courts.
"It's humbling," Montgomery said. "There's absolutely nothing like friends and the folks in Sevier County have certainly been friends to me and my family for years."
Montgomery has been sheriff for 12 years. He won the office after a long career with the United States Marshals Service, returning to his native county to take its highest law enforcement post.
He ran on a record that includes adding school resource officers at every school, putting all the county detectives through the National Forensic Academy, adding animal control officers to the department and a meth response unit that has helped investigate and clear 35 meth labs in the past three years.
Montgomery said he planned to be back at his office today, but he had one definite plan now that the campaign is over: "I'm going to take a good, hot bath," he said.
Pierce said she is proud to be the first woman to run for sheriff in the county. "It's something I've always wanted to do," she said.
She is a former sheriff's deputy and a volunteer emergency medical technician; she currently works as a process server. Her campaign included pledges to improve the training officers receive for dealing with the public better drug rehabilitation program and training all deputies to act as first responders in medical emergencies.
She said she was glad to have the opportunity to run, and was happy with the response she got from a campaign where she only spent about $13,000, compared with much larger totals for the other candidates.
Pierce said she hoped her decision to run would help inspire other people to take part in the process, or to pursue whatever goals they set for themselves.
She said she was happy to see Montgomery win. "I have a lot of respect for Bruce," she said.
Her future plans include an application to the Tennessee Highway Patrol and is awaiting news concerning her appointment.
Lewis was also conciliatory in defeat.
"Bruce ran a good, clean race," he said. "He does a good job. I want to congratulate him."
Lewis is a long-time police officer and detective from Gatlinburg. His plank included accreditation for the department, civil service for employees, and 10-hour shifts for street officers to help increase the number of deputies patrolling the street.
He wouldn't rule out running for office in the future. "There's always another race," he said.
Layman has served as a sheriff's deputy and military policeman, and is the director of the county's juvenile services facility. He also favored accreditation, along with improvements tot he school resource officer program, traffic safety enforcement and drug intervention programs.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
- [S23] Atchley Funeral Home, (http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/), 9 Feb 2007.
Sheriff Bruce R. Montgomery
December 15, 1933 - February 09, 2007
Birthplace: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Resided In: Gatlinburg Tennessee USA
Visitation: February 12, 2007
Service: February 12, 2007
Cemetery: Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens
Sheriff Bruce R. Montgomery, age 73 of Gatlinburg, passed away Friday, February 9, 2007 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He was a member and Chairman of the Deacons at First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg. He took the office of Sevier County Sheriff on September 1, 1994 after serving for 23 years with the United States Marshals Service as Marshal for the Eastern District of the state of Tennessee and as Deputy United States Marshal.
Wife: Betty Jo Montgomery
Daughters: Susan Montgomery, Cathy Pittman and husband, Chuck
Grandchildren: Chad and Erin Pittman
Brother: Harry Montgomery and wife Sandra
Sister: Geraldine Glover and husband Ed
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg, 111 Oglewood Lane,Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738 or American Cancer Society, Sevier County Unit, 411 Ashley Avenue, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863.
Funeral service 7 PM Monday at First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg with Rev. Larry Burcham and Dr. Marvin Cameron officiating. Interment 11 AM Tuesday in Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens. Serving as pallbearers will be Dave Ogle, Larry Waters, Rex Henry Ogle, Richard, Connie, and Robert Montgomery. Honorary pallbearers will be Deacons of First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg and employees of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.
The body will lie-in-state Sunday at Atchley Funeral Home in Sevierville. The family will receive friends 2-6 PM Monday at First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg. Arrangements by Atchley Funeral Home, Sevierville. (www.atchleyfuneralhome.com)
- [S28] Newspaper Article, WATE, 9 Feb 2007.
Sevier Co. Sheriff Bruce Montgomery dies
February 9, 2007
By SONU WASU
6 News Reporter
SEVIER COUNTY (WATE) -- Sevier County Sheriff Bruce Montgomery died Friday morning after a battle with cancer.
Montgomery, 73, died just before 10:00 a.m. at UT Medical Center in Knoxville. He was in his fourth term in office.
Montgomery became sheriff in 1994 after serving with the U.S. Marshals Service for 23 years.
According to friends, Montgomery had been in the hospital for the last two weeks, suffering from respiratory problems.
Flags were flying at half-staff throughout Sevier County Friday, and the sheriff's office doors were locked so that staff could privately grieve.
Deputy Chief Ron Seale said he's known Sheriff Montgomery for decades. "It's hard for several of us officers here because we were truly friends."
Friends describe Montgomery as a gentleman and a fighter.
Seale says despite the sheriff's failing health and illnesses, you would never know he was sick.
"The sheriff has always been strong and always been able to bounce back no matter whatever," Seale said.
Former District Attorney General of the Fourth Judicial District Al Schmutzer said Sheriff Montgomery was a walking miracle.
"He had cancer 20 years ago and they took out his stomach," Schmutzer said. "He survived despite that, even though people told him he wouldn't make it. He survived way beyond that."
Peers say Montgomery pushed his department into the 21st century. He made sure all of his detectives were trained as forensics officers. He ordered a new fleet of cars for the department, obtained thousands of dollars in grants and sophisticated equipment, created a bomb squad, and fought hard for jail expansion and new buildings for his staff.
Seale says Montgomery will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. "We're just shocked that this happened. We was hoping he'd bounce back but the Lord made his decision and we accept it."
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters released a statement saying:
"Sevier County has suffered a tremendous loss, not only of a great public official, but also of a good man and a good friend to literally thousands of people throughout East Tennessee.
On behalf of the citizens of Sevier County, I want to extend our deepest sympathy to the family in this tremendous loss. Sheriff Montgomery was able to build an excellent functioning sheriff's department for Sevier County. As a result, and even with this loss, the department continues to function and protect Sevier countians in the way Sheriff Montgomery would have wanted."
Montgomery defeated three opponents from his own Republican party in the May 2006 primary.
He was in charge of 89 officers in the sheriff's department.
The sheriff is survived by his wife, Betty Jo Montgomery, his daughters, Susan Montgomery, Kathy Pittman, and her husband, Chuck, his grandchildren Chad and Erin Pittman, his brother, Harry Montgomery and his wife, Sandra, and his sister, Geraldine Glover and her husband, Ed.
Montgomery's body will lie-in-repose Sunday at Atchley Funeral Home at 118 East Main Street in Sevierville. The family will receive friends from 2:00-6:00 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg.
His funeral service will be held at 7:00 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg. He'll be buried at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday in Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church, Gatlinburg, at 111 Oglewood Lane, 37738 or the American Cancer Society, Sevier County Unit, Sevier County Unit at 411 Ashley Ave. Pigeon Forge, 37863.
Chief Deputy T.J. Cantwell will serve as acting sheriff until the county commission can meet to appoint a new sheriff. The appointed sheriff will serve until the next general election. in August, 2008.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 11 Feb 2007.
Goodbye to our top cop
By: JEFF FARRELL
February 11, 2007
Sheriff Bruce Montgomery remembered for devotion to duty, dedication to law enforcement, and service to the people
Flags across the county were lowered to half-staff Friday as word spread of the death of Sheriff Bruce Montgomery.
Montgomery, who struggled for years with cancer, had been a patient at the University of Tennessee Medical Center for the past few weeks. County Mayor Larry Waters said the sheriff died Friday of natural causes.
Sevier County residents elected Montgomery to his fourth term last year.
"Bruce Montgomery is one of the best friends I've had over many, many years," Waters said. "He was a good sheriff, but he had as big a heart to help people as anybody I ever knew. He will be missed by people all over the state."
Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg. Interment will be 11 a.m. Tuesday in Smoky Mountain Memory Gardens. The family will receive friends from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday at First Baptist.
Montgomery had been sheriff since 1994, when he left a career with the U.S. Marshal's Service to seek the office he had long coveted. He first ran for sheriff 1966, after serving for six years as justice of the peace - the position that is now county commissioner.
Officials at the Sevier County Courthouse went about their business with heavy hearts Friday, perhaps none more than Circuit Court Judge Rex Henry Ogle, who swore in Montgomery for his first term in 1994.
"What a great life he lived," Ogle said. "He's done more for every citizen of this county than any man I've ever known."
Montgomery's family has been involved in politics for more than a century, and in law enforcement for almost that long. His grandfather, Dr. Bruce Montgomery, was a major figure in local politics in his time, and Montgomery looked up to him from an early age.
"He would drive Doc around to all the (political events) and would stand on the floorboard of the car so he could drive," Ogle said.
Montgomery also looked up to his father, who was an assistant chief with the Gatlinburg Police Department. The sheriff's brother, Harry, eventually became chief of the department. It was the influence of his father and the other police officers they knew that led Montgomery to combine his interests in law enforcement and politics.
"All my life I had a hankering for law enforcement because those folks made a good impression on me growing up," he said in a 2005 interview with The Mountain Press. "I just couldn't get that out of my system."
In between the 1966 and 1994 elections, Montgomery and his wife, Betty Jo, ran a service station in Gatlinburg before he joined the marshal's service.
When he won election as sheriff, he brought his political connections and the knowledge he gained as a marshal back to Sevier County.
Longtime County Commissioner Jimmy Temple worked with Montgomery when they were both justices of the peace and again when Montgomery became sheriff. Montgomery helped organize the county's law enforcement and first-responder services so that they all met at one time, Temple said, instead of meeting separately with commissioners.
"We were running ourselves to death going to meetings," Temple said. Now, there's more communication among the agencies as well as with the commission he said. "It's so much better organized."
Temple, a lifelong friend of Montgomery's, said Montgomery seemed proudest of getting resource officers in all the county schools.
State Sen. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, was the sheriff's cousin. He said he is planning to introduce legislation honoring the sheriff.
"Every time he called me and needed something, it was always something to help somebody else," the senator said. "He was always helping somebody. He was just that kind of person. I went to see him in the hospital a couple days ago and even then he was only thinking about what he needed to do for others."