MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Loved ones are remembering a well-known retired Memphis pastor who died Friday after being hit by a car while riding his bike Tuesday evening.
Rev. Dr. Steve Montgomery was the pastor at Idlewild Presbyterian Church for more than 19 years.
“Steve was a rock in many ways. Leading the church in ways that I personally was proud of him for -- again focused on issues of justice and equality and yet creating a congregation that grew dramatically,” said Dr. Scott Morris, Executive Director of Church Health in Memphis.
Dr. Morris was more than just a friend to Dr. Montgomery -- they were more like brothers.
Both attended Yale Divinity School together, and have been friends ever since.
They would meet regularly for breakfast and chat about their love for Memphis.
“I can talk to you about it now with a straight face, but I have a very heavy heart,” Morris said.
Tuesday evening, Dr. Montgomery was riding his bike near North Perkins and Sequoia when he was struck by a vehicle.
He was taken to regional one in critical condition, and was in a coma with what’s known as “locked-in” syndrome.
Dr. Morris said a best case scenario meant Montgomery would only be able to communicate by blinking his eyes, and because that went against Dr. Montgomery’s “living will” his family made the difficult decision to take him off life support Friday morning.
His loved ones say they’ll remember his big smile and sense of humor.
“As you know we have some pretty strict rules about not taking photographs in church, however, I’ve got to get this,” said Dr. Montgomery as he reached for his phone to take a picture of the congregation before preaching his last sermon on May 5, 2019.
Dr. Scott says his friend is a uniter who was passionate about social justice issues, and although he didn’t grow up in Memphis, Dr. Montgomery is the epitome of what a Memphian should be.
“He looked to make our community better and stronger,” Dr. Morris said.
Idlewild Presbyterian Church released a statement on behalf of his passing:
“It is with heavy hearts that we write to share with you that our brother, friend and retired beloved pastor, Steve Montgomery, died this morning with his family by his side. Maybe you, like us, can hear Steve’s booming voice singing “I greet thee who my sure redeemer art.”
Service arrangements for Dr. Montgomery have not yet been finalized.