In Montez Motes’ kitchen, every recipe was a secret, of sorts. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t share them. More often than not, she couldn’t describe exactly how to recreate her dishes.
“Her friends would say, ‘Tell me how you made this,’” said Motes’ daughter, Patricia Motes Boren. “And she’d say, ‘Oh, I used a little of this and a little of that.’ And that was true. She never measured.”
Boren, who lives in Roswell, said she learned to cook watching her mother as she would “take a pinch of this and a pinch of that.” It was her time in the kitchen that helped define her mother’s life.
“And everything she put on the table was outstanding,” Boren said. “People would say, ‘Can I have the recipe?’ And she’d say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a recipe.’ And that was true. She didn’t have one.”
Montez Howell Motes of Marietta died Sunday from complications of cancer. She was 85.
A service is planned for 11 a.m. on Wednesday at Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Funeral Home, which is also in charge of arrangements. She will be buried later in the week in Alma, near her husband of nearly 60 years, Edward James Motes, who died in 2007.
A native of Blackshear, in South Georgia near Waycross, the former Montez Howell was the youngest of 10 children and the last survivor of them all, her daughter said. She was primarily a homemaker after she married in 1948, but did hold several jobs, including working in a jewelry store in Waycross, before the couple relocated to the Atlanta area in 1967.
Motes’ time in the kitchen was something she thoroughly enjoyed, said her son, Michael Motes, who lives in Cobb County.
“The cooking is how mother entertained. It is how she socialized,” her son said. “She would cook for you in a heartbeat and it would be a nice meal, complete with fresh vegetables. That is how she got to know people.”
Whether they were friends from the neighborhood, the church or even patrons from the greeting card and gift shops that she and he husband ran for several years, they all eventually got a taste of Motes’ cooking, her children said.
In her years as a proprietor, Motes seemed to enjoy talking to the customers more than anything, Boren said. It wasn’t so much about the sale than the relationships she created. And those relationships were lasting, her son said.
“I have heard so many stories about how Mother touched this life or that life,” Michael Motes said. “Just one example is a neighbor who came daily to hold Mother’s hand while she was in hospice. She found time to come every day. That is pretty special, I think.”
In addition to her daughter and son, Motes is survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
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