Mississippi in Memoriam: This 92-year-old Army vet played with Jerry Lee Lewis and Muddy Waters

Published 10:11 am Friday, February 21, 2020

Services for William Carlisle “Gray” Montgomery, 92, of Natchez, Mississippi, who died on February 14, 2020 at home surrounded by loved ones, were held on Wednesday, February 19, at the Marshall Funeral Home Chapel on 225 Pilgrim Blvd. in Natchez with Rev. Danny Reed officiating. Burial followed at the Natchez City Cemetery.

Mr. Montgomery was born March 6, 1927, in Parhams, Louisiana, to Earl and Prentiss Montgomery. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Patsy Lynn Knotts.

He is survived by three daughters: Debbie Montgomery Farmer and husband Bubba Herbert Farmer, Jr., Susan “Mecie” Wheeler and fiancé Dwayne Bryant, and Linda Gayle Montgomery and husband Malcolm Bunch; 14 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren; and a special friend, Leona.

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Gray was a veteran of the United States Army with an honorable discharge in December 1946.

Gray’s love for life never let him meet a stranger. Everyone who knew him loved him. He was the best father, brother, uncle, husband, and friend you could ever ask for. He could fix anything from an oil well blowout to a jukebox.

His greatest passion in life was playing his guitar and performing – whether in a grand ballroom or a roadside honky tonk. He started playing guitar and performing at the age of 14.

He played with some great legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, “Lightnin” Hopkins, and YZ Ealey to name a few. He loved animals and gardening and watching things grow. His heart was bigger than Texas. He will be greatly missed by his many loved ones and friends. As Gray would play on his guitar before leaving his gig, he would smile really big and sing, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again …”

Pallbearers were Joey Johansson, Nathaniel Wheeler, John Langley, William Montgomery, Braxton Harveston and Tyler Tillman. Honorary pallbearers were Bubba Hein, Dwayne Bryant, Thomas S. Loftin, Roy Bishop, David Bishop and Allen Maples.