A letter dated January 2, 1980 from Glendora Montandon Hill to a Mrs. Davis contained an inquiriry into the possibility of a memorial in Waurika for the Rev. Charles Clay Montandon and his wife Myrtle who had once pastored the Nazarene church in Waurika and then later returned with plans to live out the rest of their days in this comunity they enjoyed.
Unfortunately, Charles came down with Bright’s disease and heart trouble and passed away on December 31, 1941.
His wife, Myrtle, continued to raise their children here.
Charles Clay Montandon was born in McMinnyville, Tennessee.
Myrtle Taylor was raised in Texas.
According to a paper supposedly drafted by the family found in files at Waurika City Hall, the couple didn’t meet until after Charles had been ordained as a minister in the Congregational Methodist Church.
They were married at her parent’s home at Gouldbusk, Texas.
The couple had 8 children 7 of those survived. Carlos, Nina, Faye, Charles, Glendora, Pat and James.
Myrtle once made the remark that they had children in school for forty-two years beginning with Carlos, the oldest, and ending with Jim, the youngest.
Their ministry together consisted of revival meetings in communities where there were no churches. Once a church was established Charles would find a pastor for the congregation then move on to another community.
Charles was known as a competent contractor and builder. He often built the new church buildings or surpervised their construction.
According to the letter from the family, the couple were instrumental in establishing more than 31 churches of the Nazarene in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
According to family history, the Montandons pastored the Nazrene church in Waurika for a several years before continuing ministry in Texas.
Charles believed in the church being available to people of all races. This got him into trouble in Texas.
After allowing African Americans to attend services one week, the KKK burned the church down then set fire to a cross on the lawn of the church parsonage. The church board felt this was too much heat for their small congregation and asked the Montandon’s to leave.
This event lead the Montandon’s to retire from Ministry and move back to Waurika. Waurika was chosen because they had many friends here and it was by far the best place they had ever lived according to Pat Montandon’s memoir, Oh the Hell of it All.
More than once in her book, Pat refers to “growing up” in Waurika, Oklahoma.
The family arrived in town just before WWII. Pat Mondandon can remember the time period because someone from Waurika was nice enough to loan the family a Philco radio so they could listen to news about Hitler bombing Poland.
The death of Charles later on December 31, 1941 had quite an impact on the family. He was only fifty-six.
Myrtle stayed in Waurika to raise the three youngest who were still at home.
The people here were always good to the Montandons.
After Charles passed away, someone in the community purchased them a small home.
An accidental fire burned the house to the ground. Within two months friends in the community found them a much nicer home in a better part of town and even furnished it.
Myrtle would eventually pass away in 1979 in California. She had moved there to be near family, including her daughter, Pat, who had become somewhat of a celebrity by then.
City Manager Stan Patty was given the letter Glendora had written and wrote her back about the possiblity of building the pavillion in their honor.
According the the letter several options had been considered, but the city commissioners decided on remodelling and expanding Harmon Park. Part of the improvements planned for the 22 acre park was to build two pavilions.
Members of the city commission at the time were Mayor Terry Kirkland, Vice Mayor Earl Swanson, H.C. (Jack) James, Bill Fechtel and Ceburn Lovett. The city clerk was Billie Helm.
In the letter Patty advised the cost to build one pavilion was only $2000.00.
In a forthcoming letter Glendora advised they would be happy to have a Pavilion named in her father and mother’s honor and promised a donation to cover the cost.
The plan was to have a permenent marker attached to the pavilion which would read,
“In Memory and the Honor of Reverand C.C. and Mrs. Myrtle C. Montandon.”
According to a picture in the Waurika News-Democrat (see front page), construction was well underway on August 14, 1980.
The contractor for the project was Ron Kerley.
The Montandon family left their mark on Waurika in more ways than one.
Some may recall the fame of their daughter Patricia “Pat” Montandon,
who made a name for herself in San Francisco, California.
Pat left Waurika when she was around 16 or 17 to pursue a career in modeling. Her brother-in-law Cecil Antrim (married to Faye) took money from his juke boxes and candy machines he had located around Waurika in order to pay for her trip to Dallas so she could work for Neiman-Marcus as a clothes model.
Later she migrated to San Francisco, California.
She worked as a columnist for the Sacramento Examiner and hosted her own televsion show.
Montandon published several books including How to be a Party Girl,The Intruders, Whispers from God: A Life Beyond Imaginings, and Oh the Hell of it All. Her memoir Oh the Hell of it All was a response to her son, Sean Wilsey’s book Oh the Glory of it All.
In it she talks about dating Frank Sinatra for a summer. Though she found him charming she didn’t want to marry him.
Later she met and married Melvin Belli, the attorney known as the King of Torts, and the famous attorney who defended Jack Ruby. Their marriage, however, was short lived, lasting only a few days.
Over the years Pat Montandon left her mark on the world. She fought for the rights of women, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, met with 26 world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet President, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India.
Some would consider her a force of nature.
During here lifetime she overcame many trials and tribulations.
In 1987 she received the UN Peace Messenger award.
The Montandons did more than leave their name on a Pavillion in Harmon Park. Through their lives and the lives of their children they left their mark on the world.
A special thank you to Catrina Watters for obtaining the files in the archives from Waurika City Hall and for the pictures of the pavilion.