Shirlie Alice Montgomery • June 9, 1918 – Nov 5, 2012

Shirlie always had her camera handy.
Shirlie Alice Montgomery was born on Chapman Street in San Jose on June 9, 1918. She was an only child. To her friends and neighbors she was a treasure trove of history. Shirlie remembered it all. She remembered the Great Depression as a child, the Second World War as a young woman, and eventually the transformation of the Santa Clara Valley from a moderately sized agricultural town to the hustle and bustle of modern Silicon Valley. The majority of her memories were supported by the thousands of photographs in her collection.
Young Shirlie Montgomery

Shirlie a few years ago from an article in the Rose Garden Resident.

She was the grandniece of San Jose’s forefather T.S. Montgomery. Shirlie lived a colorful life but professionally she photographed it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic in B&W. She was a celebrated photographer that shot Hollywood stars, U.S. Presidents and pro wrestlers. Although Shirlie did work for the S. F. Examiner and the San Jose Mercury her works remain some of the best representations of pro wrestling from the 40’s thru the 60’s. When asked about her penchant for shooting professional wrestlers she would answer “I always liked the big boys”. Such stories Shirlie had! She passed away quietly on November 5, 2012. She will never be forgotten. God rest her soul.

Obituary written by Shirlie's good friend and neighbor Joe Holt

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

San Jose High School Class of 1935

Shirlie graduated from San Jose High School in 1935. She would be celebrating the 80th Reunion of the Class of '35 this month! At that time SJHS was the only high school in San Jose! Far cry from today. Population in this little country town south of "The City" was just 62,000 (est.) ... I read that San Jose has just officially joined the ranks of US cities with populations exceeding one million! There was no Silicon Valley ... in fact "High Tech" had not been thought of yet. San Jose was mostly an agricultural town. It's come a long way baby!

While looking through some of Shirlie's memories that we have, I found this flyer/handout from (what I think is) the 1999 Class Reunion for the SJHS Class of '35. I just have pages 3 and 4, but I thought it was interesting .. especially since it featured a photograph from the 20th Class Reunion (May 1956) of "The lovely, talented Shirley (sic) Montgomery showing off her dancing gams ..." (Click on the images for a larger version.)

SJHS Class of '35
SJHS Commentary by Hazel Belli

Shirlie's Yearbook Photo
Shirlie's SJHS Diploma

The above diploma photo is from the Bob and Susan Bortfeld, Shirlie Montgomery Collection at History San Jose. Used with permission. The reunion flyer is from our private collection.

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