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Remembering a family man


Friends, relatives salute life spirit of David Montross



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David Montross (click for larger version)
January 21, 2010
BY CHRISTOPHER TANGUAY

NEWS STAFF WRITER

STURBRIDGE — Shortly after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, EMTs responded to the gymnasium at Tantasqua Junior High School for a medical emergency.

David Montross, 65, had collapsed on the court during a men's three-on-three league game. Montross, a father of four, was pronounced dead at Harrington Memorial Medical Center.

"He did have an existing heart condition." His oldest daughter, Rachael Patterson, said Thursday. "He had actually recently been given a good bill of health by his doctor and was feeling very energetic and healthy so it was a shock."

A Vietnam era veteran of the Air Force, Montross will be remembered by family and friends for his big heart and many passions.

"He was first and foremost a family man," Patterson said. "He had a grandchild he was expecting in April and he was really, really excited to be a grandfather.

"He was someone who took advantage of every moment and experience, and loved life," she added.

According to Patterson, Montross was the type of man who devoted his entire self to endeavors he chose to pursue.

"He had a love for life and when he liked something he loved it," she said. "And when he loved something, he really loved it, whether it was a book or a move, a trip or a place and he always wanted to share what he loved with others."

Patterson said her father just recently reconnected with an old college friend, and within days had sent him a copy of his favorite book. She said the whole family had a good laugh at that because each one of them had at one time or another been the recipient of books, movies or other items Montross loved — and shared.

An avid sportsman and outdoorsman, Montross engaged in a number of activities that sometimes took him on faraway adventures.

"He loved participating in sports like softball, basketball, he loved the outdoors, loved fishing, loved golf," Patterson said. "He had made a couple trips to Alaska and was always excited to see bears and moose and things like that."

Patterson recalled a recent hike near the Quabbin Reservoir during which Montross and his family simply observed and enjoyed the wilderness.

"He will be dearly missed," his daughter said. "He could tell a good joke, not everyone can do that."

Present at the gym Wednesday night was Roman Krochmalnyckyj, who arrived for his volleyball game just as Montross fell to the floor.

"I noticed there wasn't any activity going on, then I noticed on the court everyone was collected around him," Krochmalnyckyj said.

Krochmalnyckyj said people were doing everything they could to help Montross, encouraging him and placing something under his head for support. One individual even performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived.

"It was hard to experience, but at the same time I was really taken by how everyone stepped up and tried to provide aid and comfort to the gentleman in his condition," Krochmalnyckyj said.

So impressed with the efforts of the other people at the scene, Krochmalnyckyj reached out to Recreation Coordinator Lynne Girouard the following morning.

"I said that she should be very proud of all those gentlemen who were there," Krochmalnyckyj said, adding that although he doesn't know any of them personally, "I'd be proud to know them."

Girouard could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Although he may not have been familiar with the other basketball players present at the time, Krochmalnyckyj did know Montross.

A former director of career counseling and placement at Holy Cross College, Montross' signature is on Krochmalnyckyj's admission letter from the school.

Later on, the two ended up commuting to work together.

"When I started working in Boston we were actually riding on the van from Sturbridge together," Krochmalnyckyj said, "He was a very kind man, low key."

Calling hours for Montross will be Saturday, Jan. 23, beginning at 3 p.m. at Daniel T. Morrill Funeral Home in Southbridge. Funeral services will immediately follow calling hours at 6 p.m. with a private burial.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Trinity-Pawling School, 700 Rt. 22, Pawling, NY 12564 or to the Montross College Fund care of TD Bank, 178 Main St., Sturbridge, MA 01566.

News staff writer Christopher Tanguay may be reached at (508) 909-4132, or by e-mail at ctanguay@stonebridgepress.com.

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