In Memoriam


In Memory of

Neal R. Montanus

June 5, 1926 - January 26, 2017


Neal Robert Montanus, 90, of Boston, Massachusetts died on January 26, 2017, after a long illness.

Throughout his long life Neal Montanus was devoted to his family, career, travel, reading, history, baseball, the open road, beauty and nature. His passion for all things maritime made time on the open water and at the seashore a lifelong joy. He loved Cape Cod and visited frequently. In later years he found great pleasure in hosting his extended family for wonderful vacations in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

Neal had a keen intellect and love of learning. Reading was his passion. History books were the key for him to continuously hone an expansive worldview that he articulated with deep insight. His great appreciation of the English language and extensive vocabulary made him a crossword puzzle enthusiast and an excellent Scrabble player. He had a sharp wit and good sense of humor; puns were his specialty. Neal loved the arts—especially painting, sculpture and music. A visit to a fine arts museum or an evening at a concert brought him deep joy.

Neal was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 5, 1926 and spent his early childhood years there and in Southern California. He joined the Navy in 1943, and after completing Midshipmen’s School, shipped off to Guam. At the end of the World War II, when he was only 19 years old, Neal captained a transport ship with a crew of thirty across the Pacific, eventually landing in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1947, after completing his college education at Colgate University, Neal began a distinguished career at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. His time at the Port Authority proved to be one of the most rewarding periods of his life. It was there that he had the opportunity to serve and contribute to the city he called home, working with colleagues whom he respected and were like family to him.

At the age of 21, Neal was one of the first management trainees at the Port Authority. Over the following years he rose through the ranks, moving on to become the Director of Rail Transportation, as well as Vice President and General Manager of PATH from 1962-1966. He then served as Deputy Director of Aviation and Director of Aviation until 1973, when he left the staff to form his own consulting firm. In 1976, Neal was among a group of experts selected by the US Department of Transportation to develop environmental guidelines for airport projects throughout the United States. In 1978, he was appointed the Port Authority’s Director of Industrial Development. Neal retired from the Port Authority in 1983.

When he was 22 Neal met the love of his life, Jean Parlier, at a dance in New York City. After a brief courtship they married in 1949, and soon after settled on Long Island to raise two daughters. In 1958 Neal took a leave of absence from the Port Authority to serve as a US State Department Foreign Service officer, becoming the Assistant to the Director of the American delegation to the Brussels World’s Fair. In this position he organized, prepared and operated the American participation at the Fair. The family lived in Brussels for a year and a half and traveled widely, returning to Long Island in 1959. The time spent in Belgium turned out to be one of the most memorable periods of Neal’s life.

Not long after the birth of their third daughter in 1961, the family moved to Port Washington, New York, settling into a home and community where Neal and Jean raised their daughters and made lifelong friends. The neighborhood was close to Manhasset Bay, and it was there that Neal spent many a happy hour sailing his small sailboat, Flippant.

In 1968, Neal’s life was profoundly altered when Jean was injured in a skiing accident. The next few years proved to be challenging as Jean suffered complications from the accident. Neal met this challenge with grace, always striving to find the best medical care for Jean while continuing to meet the demands of his high-pressure career and caring for his family. Neal was a devoted husband and father; his wife and family meant the world to him.

In 1986, Neal and Jean moved from Long Island to a condominium in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to live closer to their beloved New York City. At the same time, they purchased a 100-year old country home overlooking the Housatonic River in Falls Village, Connecticut, where they enjoyed hosting family gatherings.  The family spent many an afternoon together at this gracious home relaxing on the cozy front porch, chatting and reading, while games of croquet and whiffle ball were played between the two ancient maple trees on the front lawn. Those wonderful times created a legacy of sweet memories that will live on in the family for generations.

In 1992, Neal and Jean, both lifelong New Yorkers, moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, to be close to their adult children and grandchildren. It was at this time that Neal began a gradual transformation from a fan of New York sports teams into a Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. Neal loved to share his love and knowledge of sports, and in doing so inspired many in the family to be lifelong fans.

In his later years Neal’s love for the open road found him heading out for a day’s drive to a destination that beckoned to him, returning in the evening after a satisfying day of exploration. Always open to new discovery, whether on the open road, open water, or opening a new history book, Neal’s love of learning was a life-long pursuit.

Neal Robert Montanus was a man of great integrity, always determining to do what was right and honorable. His highest ideals, his North Star, always guided his way as he encountered the twists and turns, challenges, and joys of his life. An inspiration to all who knew him and loved him, Neal will be deeply missed.

Neal is survived by 3 daughters; Valerie Montanus of Jamaica Plain, MA, Kim Lishansky of Concord, MA and Lisa Montanus of Woodstock, NY; six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Jean, predeceased him in June, 2009.

Donations can be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center.


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