Raye J. Montague, entered this world on January 21, 1935, in Little Rock, Arkansas and left this world on October 10, 2018. She loved math and science, deciding early on that she wanted to become an engineer. Though public policies like segregation and discriminatory practices against women prevailed at the time, she forged her way to become an internationally registered professional engineer. She earned a BS at the University of Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and began a career in Washington, DC with the United States Navy in 1956, retiring in 1990 after more than 33 years of service in the metropolitan Washington DC area.
Raye was recognized with the U.S. Navy's Meritorious Civilian Service Award for revolutionizing the computer design of all U.S. naval ships and submarines using a computer. Many of her ship designs are still in use today and she was thrilled to meet some of the sailors and marines who have served on those ships. She served in numerous leadership roles during her naval career rising from a clerk typist, to computer programmer, analyst, and eventually a senior management position as program manager of ships (PMS-309) with naval field activities/work sites spanning the United States. She was the first woman to ever serve as a program manager of ships in the history of the U.S. Navy and held a civilian equivalent rank of captain. Raye was the Navy's expert on computer aided design and manufacturing, and often worked with other defense agencies, the private sector, and occasionally lectured on ship hull design at the U.S. Naval Academy, as well as regularly brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
After returning to Arkansas in 2006, Raye became active with LifeQuest of Arkansas, The Links Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Arkansas Association of University Women, and the American Contract Bridge League. She also mentored prisoners through a community re-entry program administered by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the Arkansas Department of Correction. She enjoyed visiting students at schools to encourage them to think beyond any limitations put in front of them, particularly girls and women interested in STEM careers. In recent years, Raye completed an oral history on her career with the Butler Center, was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Academy of Computing. In 2018, she was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The two highlights she enjoyed most, were being featured ABC's Good Morning America in New York and being officially recognized by the U.S. Navy as the their ''hidden figure'' during naval events in Washington, D.C. and Dahlgren, Virginia. Raye was passionate about education and hard work, meaning that she leaves a legacy of many people she has inspired. Now gone from this world, she leaves behind a son, Dr. David Montague, daughter-in-law, Whitney Montague, and beloved granddaughter, Riley Montague; and a host of loving cousins and extended family.
Visitation will be held 6 pm, Monday, October 15, 2018 in the Chapel of Roller Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Parkway, with a Celebration of Life starting at 7 pm. A Funeral Service will be held 11 am, Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 1000 North Mississippi Street.
In lieu of flowers please make memorials to the Raye J. Montague Endowed Scholarship at UA Little Rock.