MELBOURNE, FLA. — It is with sadness that we report the passing of Dr. Julius Montgomery on Jan. 22, 2020. He was 90.
Montgomery broke barriers in two of society’s most important and high-profile realms – education and the high-tech workforce – years before the Civil Rights Act was ratified.
“Florida Tech is a better institution because of this brave and compassionate man, whose impact, thankfully, went well beyond our campus,” said Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay. “I am proud to call him an alumnus and, more importantly, a friend. Mary Helen and I offer our deepest condolences to the Montgomery family. We will miss Julius dearly.”
In 1956, after graduating from the Tuskegee Institute and earning a first-class radio-telescope operator’s license in the U.S. Air Force, Montgomery came to Cape Canaveral to work as an electronics technician at RCA Development Lab. He was the first African-American to serve there in a role other than janitor or custodian. Like the trailblazer he was, Montgomery persevered and excelled in this challenging environment, working successfully in radar, telemetry, tracking and repairs for classified military missiles.
Two years later, seeking to strengthen his education, he enrolled at Brevard Engineering College, which in its early days was based in classrooms at the then-segregated Eau Gallie Junior High School. Montgomery was the first African-American to sign up for classes, and quickly elicited an ultimatum from the Brevard schools superintendent: remove him from the school or the school will be closed. Showing the vision and heart that are the hallmarks of great men, he agreed to withdraw his enrollment to keep the nascent university afloat.
In 1961, after the campus moved and just as founding President Jerome Keuper promised him, Montgomery was able to enroll in what would later be renamed Florida Institute of Technology.
For these accomplishments, for his commitment and contributions to the cause of education, and for his impact on the Space Coast and beyond, Montgomery received an honorary doctorate in humane letters at Florida Tech’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 13.
Regarding services, the viewing will be from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at Florida Memorial Gardens, 5950 U.S. 1 in Rockledge. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Greater Allen Chapel AME Church, 2416 Lipscomb St. in Melbourne, with interment and reception to follow at Florida Memorial Gardens.