Vale David Montgomery: A leader of the potato industry

David Montgomery AM was an unsung hero to many who worked alongside him in agriculture.

Hailed as an entrepreneur, he dedicated much of his life to innovation, significantly in the potato industry.

2013: Garry Kadwell and David Montgomery present a plaque to Peter Banfield on behalf of the generations of farmers who have been growing potatoes in the district for 150 years. Photo: Paul Anderson

2013: Garry Kadwell and David Montgomery present a plaque to Peter Banfield on behalf of the generations of farmers who have been growing potatoes in the district for 150 years. Photo: Paul Anderson

Mr Montgomery, formerly of Kimbe, Grabben Gullen, passed away at his home Bingie Banis at Bingie on the south coast on November 17, aged 82.

At a Grabben Gullen Hall memorial service on November 26, his son Scott said he would "never be forgotten".

"His legacy is well recognised by peers and friends and by the horticultural industry in which he played a significant role to drive change," Scott said.

He said his father had been an inspiration and a family man, and shared stories of early business ventures from his years at The Scots College, Sydney (1947-52) to his education at the Hawkesbury Agriculture College (1953-55).

It was during this time he met his future wife, Gillian Marks. They celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary in September. Mr Montgomery wrote to her from Papua New Guinea during his employment by the Department of Agriculture Stock and Fisheries (Department of Agriculture). His experiences were recorded in the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia Journals, Una Voce titled Didiman's Diary. The Montgomerys moved to Grabben Gullen in 1966 with sons Scott and Mark; daughter Jenni was born in 1967.

David Montgomery is remembered by family at a service at a memorial service held at Grabben Gullen. Photo: Crookwell Gazette

David Montgomery is remembered by family at a service at a memorial service held at Grabben Gullen. Photo: Crookwell Gazette

David began Southern Tablelands Potatoes, producing summer vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, leeks) and certified seed potatoes for supermarkets and fast food outlets. They also grew crops, traded in fat lambs, and bred cattle.

It was about this time that methods to speed up potato seed propagation developed and Technico, with Peter Waterhouse, began.

Technico's chief executive, Sachid Madan, said Mr Montgomery had seen something in Technituber technology that others had not. The company is now a leading seed potato company with global operations, providing food safety and better farm incomes, he said.

The technology had been adopted by the International Centre for Potato and given rise to new technologies. "The seed David planted in Crookwell nearly 25 years ago has spread across the world, benefiting millions of consumers, and rural communities," he said.

As a founding member of the Horticultural Research and Development Cooperation, Mr Montgomery served for six years on its board. In 2000, he was recognised for his contributions to the development of PNG.

He was the Crookwell Potato Association executive director 1988-2009, and its public officer until his passing. In the 1990s, he received a Vocational Service and Enterprise award from the Rotary Club of Crookwell. In 2006, he was the first Australian honoured by the World Potato Congress in Boise, Idaho, US. In 2013, Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC awarded his AM for significant service to the potato industry and agriculture.

In 2004, he began work on the Australian Rural Innovative Centre, and in 2014 this concept became the Australian Agricultural Centre, which is planned for Crookwell.

He is survived by his wife Gillian, children Scott and Jenni (Mark passed in 1983), seven grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

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