Reverend Wayne Dee Montgomery was a beloved and admired Wasco community member known for his kindness and compassionate nature. A man of God and a trusted public servant, he will be remembered as a man who cared deeply for the well-being of others.
Wayne traveled the world as a spiritual teacher, spreading the Lord's message. He never lost sight of his true calling and held steadfast to his faith at the Christ Community Church in Wasco, which he called home, where he shared God's word until his last days.
He was a Wasco High School bus driver and student supervisor; students knew him as Big Wayne. He later went on to own a successful business, Montgomery Insurance Agency, which he ran since 1981.
A believer in the value of education, Wayne went to adult school for a high school diploma, then Cal State Bakersfield for a bachelor's and then a master's degree. He became a marriage, family and child counselor – a fitting educational culmination aligned seamlessly with his dedication to serving God.
A passionate advocate for the underserved, he worked tirelessly for the betterment of those most in need. He served on the boards of Wasco High, North Kern Regional Occupational Program, Wasco Housing Authority, Kern Civil Service Commission, and others.
For his service, Wayne was recognized with the dedication of a science building at Wasco High in his honor and, later, induction into the CSU Bakersfield Hall of Fame.
Wayne was a loving family man and was married to Sally Jean for 68 years. Together, they had four children, Wanda (Pierce), Sandra (Scharpenberg), Robert (Montgomery), and Karen (Greenfield), who would give him ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Gary Garcia was a close friend of over 27 years. "At first, he seemed like a giant, an intimidating fella, but after all these years, I'd come to know Wayne as a big old teddy bear. He was tough and strong-willed, but if you knew him outside the business realm, he was funny, sincere, and quite a character."
"Wayne loved supporting schools, students, churches, community organizations and anyone who would come through his doors asking for donations. He loved attending the Kern County Fair and buying student's livestock projects at the auction."
He was generous, and Garcia has fond memories of him.
"I was in his office one day, and a young mother with her little daughter came in to handle some insurance business. Wayne knelt down to the little girl and said, "You are going to have a great Christmas!" He got back up and slipped the young mom some cash and told her to be sure and buy some nice presents for her daughter."
Wayne was known for his sense of humor. "A lot of folks may not have realized what a funny guy he was, but if you got to know him, he sure would make you laugh."
He added, "Wayne very much cared for those who struggled. He worked hard to make sure that the boards he served on were helping those who struggled. He helped make sure that Wasco High School had a free lunch program to help students who were in need. He made sure that he helped direct Wasco Affordable Housing to provide low-income housing for those in need. He pastored Christ Community Church to help people with local and international spiritual well-being. Wayne came from humble beginnings and knew what it was like to struggle. He always gave help and hope to those who needed it."
His daughter, Karen, said, "I will miss just hearing his big booming voice. Being able to call and talk on the phone and him saying "here's your mother." Being able to have the security that he is there to listen to and guide me when I need it, even at 58. Being able to watch him and my mom love each other in their own way. I will miss saying, 'I love you, dad."