Raye Jean Jordan Montague was born in Little Rock in 1935. She was educated at Merrill High School and Arkansas Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff. Although she wanted to study engineering, no Arkansas colleges awarded such degrees to African American women at the time, so she studied business instead. In 1956, Montague began a distinguished career with the US Navy as a digital computer systems operator. She advanced to computer systems analyst at the Naval Ship Engineering Center; she served as the program director for the Naval Seal Systems Command Integrated Design, Manufacturing, and Maintenance Program; and she became the division head for the Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing Program. Among many distinctions and achievements, Montague was instrumental in developing the first US Navy ship designed by computer.