Sipping tea in Washington's grand old Willard Hotel last week, James F. Montgomery, former chairman of Great Western Financial, looked like the elder statesman that he is.

Tall, gray-haired, and courteous, Mr. Montgomery had just come from a meeting of Freddie Mac's board of directors in McLean, Va. This summer Mr. Montgomery, 62, stepped down as chairman of Great Western after more than two decades at its helm. The California thrift was sold to Washington Mutual Inc., Seattle, in July.

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