“I was privileged to graduate from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. I’ve always been grateful because the experience changed my life.” - Louis Montgomery

pg4Two weeks before Louis Montgomery (1952 D.D.S.) was born, his father unexpectedly passed away—leaving his mother to raise five children on her own.

“My oldest brother, who was 21 years old at the time, took over complete financial support of the family,” said Louis. “That allowed my mother to stay at home, raise all of us, and make sure that we got through school. My mother wanted all of us to go to high school, but the thought of going to college didn’t seem possible.”

Louis’ fortunes changed, though, while attending high school in Carroll, Iowa. “The young lady I was going with at the time, Mary Louise Petersen (née Anneberg), was president and valedictorian of her class,” he said. “Having a girlfriend with those credentials, I was being encouraged to go to college.”

Petersen (1951 B.A.)—who is a lifetime honorary member of the University of Iowa Foundation Board of Directors, a former president of the Iowa Board of Regents, and recently had a UI dormitory named in her honor—and her parents, Margaret (1921 B.A.) and Walter (1923 B.S., 1923 M.D., 1924 M.S.) Anneberg, steered Louis toward dental school. “Without a father, the Annebergs were paramount figures in my life,” said Louis. “After I served in World War II and spent three years at Buena Vista University, the Annebergs helped me get into Iowa, including loaning me money—at no interest—while I was in dental school.”

While Louis attended home football games and joined Delta Chi fraternity, he focused on dental school—studying year-round while working on campus during the summers. That dedication to his studies helped him graduate in 1952; it’s also the same year he opened his own practice in Waterloo, Iowa. It’s a practice that he operated until 2012.

“I never really considered dentistry hard work,” said Louis. “I actually hated the thought of retiring, but after 60 years, I was running out of energy. It was time to sell my practice and retire at age 86.” His wife, Mary, a systems analyst at John Deere in Waterloo, followed suit—retiring nine days later.

While Louis has stayed connected to his alma mater through his UI Alumni Association membership and his class reunions, both Louis and Mary—who married in 2009—have enjoyed spending time together in Iowa City. “The University of Iowa has certainly kept us active, including all the social events and football games,” said Mary, who attended Marshalltown Community College and graduated from Upper Iowa University.

Louis has always remained connected to his dental classmates. The Class of 1952 formed a strong bond after their first year when a classmate, Roger Zemanek, was diagnosed with polio. “For 50 years, I spearheaded a fundraising Christmas project and party for Roger,” said Louis. “Throughout the years, we ended up raising over $250,000, and it really helped our class continue to stay close.”

That philanthropic nature has carried over to his alma mater, and he has made gifts to the UI since 1961. “I was privileged to graduate from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry,” said Louis. “I’ve always been grateful because the experience changed my life.”

Louis and Mary have finalized an estate gift to the UI College of Dentistry, providing unrestricted support for the college. “I hope other dentists follow suit,” said Louis. “I know that I owed something to the University of Iowa because of the education I received, and I know that this experience here has changed many other lives, too.”

“Louis is the only one in his family who graduated from college, and he still looks back and marvels at the opportunities he received—including from the Anneberg family, who helped him at Iowa,” said Mary. “The University of Iowa has made such a big difference in his life. For me, my parents brought me up with an understanding that you give back to society. That’s why, together, we believe in supporting Iowa. We’re proud to be able to give back.”