The Ina Montgomery Memorial garden at McClintic Library in Marlinton was dedicated last Thursday where friends and family shared stories about their beloved Ina. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

By all accounts, the late Ina Montgomery was a character. The kind of person who didn’t know a stranger and held everyone dear to her close to her heart.

Last Friday, her family and friends dedicated a garden at McClintic Library in Marlinton to honor her memory.

The garden was planted by volunteers and members of the Red Hat Society, and is maintained by library staff. At the center of the garden, a stone carved by artist Kevin Stitzinger, holds a plaque honoring Ina as a loving wife, aunt, friend, teacher and light in her community.

Ina’s niece, Janice Hatfield, thanked those attending the dedication for helping to honor Ina’s memory.

“She really did love all of you,” Hatfield said. “She loved Marlinton. We chose the library [for her memorial] because when she first came to Marlinton in ‘51, she taught in the old school which sat right here. We thought that was appropriate. We wanted something to say ‘Ina Montgomery was here’ and she made an impact. We didn’t want her to be forgotten.”

As friends of Ina’s shared memories, it was clear she will never be forgotten. The effervescent woman was remembered for sharing jokes, always being ready for an adventure and caring for those around her.

“I was one of her little girls in third grade,” Cookie Doss said. “That’s how I first met her. She took me under her wing. She doted on me like crazy, and I’m from a family of fourteen so you know how precious that was to me. Then, after I grew up, she had my children in her class, and so it just continued through the years.

“Then, she fell in love with my husband,” Doss continued, laughing. “That was her boyfriend. They met for lunch every day.”

Ina’s longtime friend and traveling companion Louise Thomas said she always had fun when they were together.

“Monty [Ina’s husband] and Ina, and Beulah Moore and I went to the World’s Fair,” Thomas said. “We all stayed in the same room. We really had a good time.”

“Aunt Ina liked to have a good time,” Hatfield added in agreement. “She really loved to tell jokes and laugh and entertain down at the camp. She and Louise were good time girls. If there was someplace to go – if Louise was going somewhere – then Aunt Ina would be ‘fit as a fiddle and ready for love.’”

Ina’s fellow Red Hatter Lois Young remembered when several ladies helped Ina celebrate her 90th birthday.

“We had a wonderful day,” Young said. “We went out to the farm and then from there over to Food and Friends and had lunch – had a little birthday celebration. I remember a lady that sat at the table over from us, and she and Ina just went back and forth all the time we ate, just talking, talking, talking. She found out it was Ina’s birthday, and she was so excited to just be with us.

“We all bid her farewell and she goes outside, gets in front of one of those windows and she knocks, and she stood there and sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ all the way through, to Ina,” she continued. “I want you to know, Janice, it made Ina’s day.”

Ina had a zest for life which is evident by the stories from her past. While Ina enjoyed the large occasions, the small things in life made her just as happy.

“One year we had a float in the Pioneer Days parade,” Young said. “Ina and Edna Mae Webb rode in the back seat of Jim Pennybaker’s truck. He pulled the float and all us ladies walked along or rode the float. When we won first place, Ina – I have never seen anyone so excited over something so little.”

Through the tears and laughter, the love for Ina was palpable at the dedication. As friends and family continued to share stories about their dear Ina, Jane Beverage summed it up perfectly.

“She was a ray of sunshine,” she said.

Now, that ray of sunshine has a garden to shine on.