Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thomas Marlow

The transcript of a speech given in 1989 by Peggy Marlow Guthrie outlines the life of her grandfather, Thomas Marlow. He was a prominent banker and businessman and owner of principal fundraiser for Helena’s beloved Marlow Theatre, named in his honor. As a young man in Helena, he was on the eve of marriage to Katherine Sligh, daughter of an Anaconda physician, when she died of a heart ailment. The community mourned with her bridegroom and Marlow erected a huge angel as a monument to her memory at Forestvale Cemetery.

Photo via Find a Grave
The beautiful sculpture is a dominant feature in the cemetery. Marlow later married Agnes McNamara Louise Miltz, and they had five children. The Marlows employed a Chinese cook at the family home at 626 Harrison. Peggy Guthrie writes that after many years working for the family, the elderly cook approached Marlow and asked if it would be possible to bring his nine-year-old grandson to Helena from China before he was too old to care for him. Marlow brought the youngster to Montana. The following year, the grandfather died, and the boy became the Marlows’ cook. He was small boy and could hardly see over the kitchen counter when he became the family’s head chef, but he made the best cherry pie in the entire capital city. After some years it was time for the young man to go to college. Marlow offered to pay his way, but the young man did not want to go to school; he only wanted to be a chef for the Marlow family. And so Marlow and the young man parted ways. Peggy writes that in time they reconciled and eventually the young man wanted to open his own restaurant. Marlow generously financed the young man’s venture. His name was Jerry Wong and the restaurant was the House of Wong, one of Helena’s several premier Chinese restaurants.

Update: thanks to Peggy Marlow Guthrie for the corrections.


  1. That is a great story! My dad took us to the House of Wong on many occasions. Is it still there?

    1. Too bad we never got cherry pie when we went there to eat!

  2. The House of Wong sadly is no more, but Yat Son's is alive and well, now in East Helena. Thanks for your comments!