Mimi Montgomery Irwin
August 9, 1944 - March 4, 2019
Mary Elizabeth "Mimi" (Montgomery) Irwin, age 74, of West, passed away unexpectedly Monday afternoon, March 4, 2019. The family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, at Aderhold Funeral Home Chapel in West. A Memorial Mass will be held 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 13, at St. Mary's Catholic Church of the Assumption in West. Interment will follow at St. Mary's Cemetery.
Mimi (as she's been known since childhood) was born on August 9, 1944, the only child of the late Wendel and Georgia (Morris) Montgomery of West. She grew up in a close-knit extended family, surrounded by Czech culture, and active in the community and businesses of her hometown. Her mother's family owned the Famous Dry Goods (which later became The Village Shoppe), her father owned the Old Corner Drug Store, and her mother and father started the Village Bakery in West in 1952. Mimi attended St. Mary's Catholic School, West High School, and graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin. Soon after, she began a retail merchandising career at Foley's in Houston and became a corporate executive. She proceeded to spend 25 years in New York City where she was a Vice President of Federated Department Stores (now Macy's Inc.). Her successful fashion career took her all over the world, but she always considered West her home. When her father passed away in 2003, Mimi left Manhattan and came home to carry on her family's business, the Village Bakery. A natural businesswoman, she successfully managed the bakery in the modern era, while not sacrificing its authenticity, Czech identity, or her family's heritage. She continued to be active in the retail fashion industry with her consulting company, Gramercy Associates.
Mimi's interests included international travel, art collecting, fashion consulting, volunteer work in her local community and beyond, and historical preservation, especially promoting and preserving the Czech cultural identity in West. She was a director of the Kiwanis Club of West where she ran the blood drive, she continued to support WestFest, the annual Czech festival her parents helped found in the '70s, and helped establish the West Museum. She was a Board member of the Brazos Forum, the Waco Historic Foundation, was part of the Standing Committee of the Poage Library at Baylor University, and a member of the McLennan County Historic Commission, for which she compiled a history of West in the book Historic McLennan County. She was previously a Board member of the Fashion Roundtable, and was a consultant for the book The Etiquette Advantage in Business by Peggy and Peter Post. Mimi was interviewed for numerous news articles and publications over the years, including Texas Monthly magazine, the Houston Chronicle, Waco Tribune-Herald, and CNN, among many others. She was a member of the Baylor Club, a Texas Exes Life Member, and a life-long fan of Texas Longhorns football.
Survivors include her aunt, Gladys (Morris) Quilter of West; cousins, Patti (Price) Arms and husband, Geoff, of Houston, John M. Price and wife, Brenda, of West, and Suzy Price of Santa Fe, NM. In addition, she is survived by extended cousins who were like nieces and nephews to her: Lauren (Arms) Beck and husband, Chris, and their children; John T. Price and wife, Rachel, and their children; and Austin Price and wife, Sarah. Mimi was also loyal and devoted to many dear friends across the country and at home in Texas, with whom she traveled and made irreplaceable memories, and to whom she said "our lives may change but our friendships never will".
Mimi inspired people and left a mark on many lives, in her family and circle of friends, in the business world, and in her town of West. Her iconic style, dynamic personality, sense of humor, and generous commitment to civic duty will truly be missed. Her tireless work ethic can be summed up in the old Czech proverb: "Bez práce nejsou koláe" ("Without work, there are no kolaches"). Happy Trails to you, Mimi.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the West Museum, the West Volunteer Ambulance Association, St. Mary's School Wish List, West Kiwanis Scholarship Fund, or the W.R. Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University.
A memorial guest book can be found at www.aderholdfuneralhome.com.
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