My heart is broken. Arkansas’ #HiddenFigure, Raye Montague has passed away. Her essence, brilliance and her beautiful light lives on. She paved the way for many women of color in the engineering field and beyond. I will miss you Raye. Rest well. #rayemontague @FOX16News pic.twitter.com/N8vt75zrVH— Donna Terrell (@donnaterrell_tv) October 10, 2018
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Raye Montague, who has been labeled Arkansas’ own ‘Hidden Figure’ has died.
Her life was compared to the popular movie based on black, female professionals who did groundbreaking work for NASA’s space program in the 1960s.
Montague didn’t work for NASA, but she was working for the U.S. government and the Navy in Washington, D.C., around the same time, doing similar work.
In 2017, Donna Terrell sat down with Montague to talk about the movie. Her thoughts?
“That was my story…”
While the three characters in the movie overcame odds working as engineers and mathematicians – Raye was blazing trails of her own.
“They were with NASA. I was with the Navy. But we were doing the same types of things,” Montague explained.
Raye, a civilian engineer working for the Navy, like one of the characters in the movie, figured out how to work an IBM computer on her own.
“I listened and learned,” Raye said.
She would eventually be asked to design part of a prestigious war ship, the FFG7 Friget, using a computer.
“The admirals came to me and said, ‘young lady, we understand you have a system to design ships,’ and I said ‘Yes.'” Raye said.
What was supposed to take two months to design – Raye was only given one month.
“I brought that rascal in in 18 hours and 26 minutes,” Raye said, laughing.
She’s been honored with many awards – once receiving the third highest Navy recognition given to a civilian – and she was also nominated by the Secretary of the Navy to become the Federal Woman of the Year.
“He said [that] I have revolutionized the design process for all naval ships and submarines,” Raye recounted.
Raye said the ‘Hidden Figures’ movie brought back many memories for her.
“I always worked with a large group of men. They always looked at me as though ‘What are you doing here?'” Raye said.
But she demonstrated her value, and credits her mother with instilling within her a strong sense-of-self, always telling her she could do anything.
“I did this in spite of the system…” Raye said.
The new of Montague’s passing was confirmed overnight by family members.
Breaking many glass ceilings for women who’d follow in her footsteps, Raye Montague is a “hidden figure” in clear sight.