Local Obituaries

 

2-3-16 Issue:

No obituaries this week


1-27-16 Issue:

Jessie Lorraine (Hankins) March

On December 23, 2015, Jessie left her earthly form and went to heaven.

Jessie was born in Great Falls, Montana, to Voil and Gloria Hankins. She was raised in Square Butte and Geraldine. In 1967 she married Richard Rogers, and spent most of her adult life in Butte and Whitehall. She worked at various places over the years but her true passion was her family and her garden. She raised two children, Darrell and Malessa. They gave her the true loves of her life, her grandchildren: Kaela and August Stack; and Samantha, Connor, Colin, Tiffany, Voil and Rachael Rogers. She was always there to share in the victories and dry the tears when there was defeat.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her beloved baby grandson Voil.

She leaves behind her siblings: Norma Reed, Lester (Butch) Hankins, Karla Hansen, Kathy White and Jodi Deck as well as all of their children and spouses. There are also more aunts, uncles, cousins and friends than one can mention.

I don’t think Jessie ever met a stranger. She brought true beauty to the world both in her presence and with her deeds.

Services and internment were held in Whitehall on December 29, 2015.


Steve “Mike” Braun

Steven Michael Braun, 59, passed away on January 14, 2016 in Fort Benton. “Mike,” as he was called, served in the Navy on a missile carrier and became a member of the VFW. He helped his father, Robert, with the farming until his myotonic dystrophy became too crippling. He took his diagnosis with grace and seldom complained.

He is preceded in death by his father, Robert, and sister, Leslie. He is survived by mother, Emma; sister, Kelly (Ren) Obrigewitch; and niece, Lilly.

He will be missed.

Cremation has taken place, and per Mike’s wishes, no services are planned.

Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.


1-20-16 Issue:

Ayleen Patricia (Kane) Chauvet

Ayleen Patricia (Kane) Chauvet, better known as “Pat” or “Patty,” was born November 10th, 1924 in Scobey, Montana. She passed away on December 16th, 2015 at the Benefis Medical Center in Great Falls at the age of 91 years.

Patty’s parents were Leonard and Elenor (Anderson) Kane, who had strong Irish heritages. She was the younger of two children including her older brother, Kenneth. Patty received her elementary education in Conrad. In 1936 the Kanes moved to Big Sandy, where Patty finished her secondary education. Unfortunately, her father died when she was just 13, so Patty worked throughout her high school years to help support her family. She graduated from Big Sandy High School in 1943.

Patty married a Big Sandy man, Kenneth Chauvet, on April 8th, 1944, in Anniston, Alabama. When Kenneth was sent overseas to fulfill his military assignment, Patty returned to Montana, where she worked at the Chouteau County Assessor’s office in Fort Benton. After Kenneth finished his military service, they began farming and ranching at Big Sandy.

Patty enjoyed her life as a homemaker, farm wife, and mother of three. She was known for her loyalty to family and friends, for her exceptional cooking/baking skills, and for her impeccable home. She was a lifelong Methodist who served as a Sunday School teacher and was active in the Women’s Society of the U.M.C. (where she planned several wedding receptions). Other memberships included the American Legion Auxiliary (where she served as Auxiliary president on three separate occasions) and the Eagles Auxiliary. Patty also served as a clerk on local school board elections and worked as a volunteer on the Big Sandy Historical Society. She was proud to be a lifelong resident of the Big Sandy community.

In her high school years Patty played the clarinet in the band, which attended a music festival in Calgary. On that memorable trip she was privileged to see the Queen of England. Patty continued to love music, so she enjoyed playing the piano and watching musical shows on television (like Lawrence Welk). In addition, she loved to support her grandchildren in all of their school activities and special events. In later years she was able to attend the weddings of two granddaughters – Shelley in Big Sandy and Lana in Hawaii – as well as her niece’s daughters who were married in Missoula. Patty also enjoyed several trips to California to visit relatives.

Patty left a legacy as a hard-working, independently-minded, helpful, and polite woman. She will be sorely missed by those who loved her.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, and her husband (who died in September of 2015).

She is survived by her three children, Darrell Chauvet (Betty Jo) of Big Sandy, Carol Steven (James) of Chester, and Rick Chauvet (Yo Fen) of Great Falls; five grandchildren, Shelley, Shane, Scott, Samantha, and Lana; seven great-grandchildren, Emma, Ella, Kash, Reed, Rhett, Hannah, and Hans; sister-in-law, Esther Kane of Florence; two nieces, Marith and Debbie; and one nephew, Patrick.

Funeral services were conducted at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29th at the United Methodist Church in Big Sandy by Pastor Sharon Robertson. The congregation sang favorite songs of the season, including “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Joanne Kibbee (organist) and Linda Ophus (pianist) provided accompaniment. Scriptures were read by Jim Steven and Shelley VonStein, and the obituary was shared by Samantha Steven. Patty’s grandchildren served as pallbearers. Following burial at the Big Sandy Cemetery, a reception was held at the church. Arrangements were handled by Rockman Funeral Chapel, Chester.


Ray Castor

Big Ray was born on April 12, 1919 in the Carter area homestead house of his parents, Mamie and Lewis Castor. The homestead was a fitting place to start for the man who would spend the majority of his time and his years living in that house and farming that land. He spent his youth working, playing with his siblings, and making his own recreations. A favorite was gopher hunting with his slingshot, an event he enjoyed for the rest of his life, albeit with substantial armament upgrades. Dad was a young boy when he endured the tragedy of losing his sister, Lois, and his brother, Edward, to accidental deaths in the span a few months. These life shaping events made him cautious and protective for the rest of his life. He was always looking out for everyone, the consummate caretaker. Eleven years after his birth, his brother Jack was born.

Dad attended Carter grade school and Fort Benton High school, graduating in 1937. He enrolled at Montana State University, majoring in engineering, but his career as an engineer was cut short after a year due to medical problems with his father. Returning to the farm did not stop him, however, from utilizing his engineering skills and cheering for the Bobcats for the rest of his life. World War II came along and Dad enlisted in the Coast Guard and was stationed in Alaska.

On leave from the Coast Guard, Dad married Jane Prideaux, also from the Carter area, on September 2, 1944. After his service duty was completed they moved to the farm and began their lives together. They spent their time raising grain, and a family that included a daughter Nancy and a son Jan. Five grandchildren and four great grandchildren came to be included in the family, and they watched over all of us, always a stabilizing force. They frequently traveled to California and Utah to visit their family, and also traveled to see a bit more of the world. Two highlight trips were a cruise through the Panama Canal and an Indy 500 excursion. They were extremely active in the Carter community and the Carter Methodist church. If there was any community event going on, it’s a pretty safe bet that they were deeply involved.

Dad always enjoyed shooting and was a longtime member of the Carter Rifle Club and the Carter Junior Rifle Club. He spent many hours shooting competitively and also teaching young people how to shoot. He was a Hunter’s Safety instructor for 25+ years. Instructing and guiding people brought him great satisfaction. You wouldn’t think he would have had time for much else, but he still needed to fulfill his engineering quest. So he built things. All kinds of things. Like a motorized car for his kids, a riding lawnmower out of old car and truck parts, a self-propelled drivable auger out of an old combine, numerous woodworking projects, including two custom Ray Castor dollhouses … the list goes on and on. No store-bought plans, they are all Ray Castor originals. They are sturdy, square and substantial. And they are all still in use today.

In 1987, Dad retired at the age of 68 and immediately won the award for “worst retired guy ever,” as he just couldn’t stop working. He always said, “The minute you stop, you stop living,” and he certainly wasn’t ready for that. There were still things to build and people to look after, so his “semi-retirement” continued for many years. He accepted the fact that living on the farm was becoming difficult, so Mom and Dad moved to Great Falls in 2002. After some adjusting, they became settled and content in their new home. City living didn’t include his beloved view of the horizon, so journeys to the farm were frequent. In 2008, shortly after celebrating Mom’s 90th birthday and their 64th anniversary, Mom passed away, leaving a big hole in all our lives. Dad’s strength helped us all through this time. His will to live was so strong that even open heart surgery at age 90 only briefly slowed him down. He was the poster child for achievement in his post-surgery exercise classes. Dad lived independently and bonded with his Great Falls home; he was comfortable there. He spent his days keeping track of the weather, watching sporting events and car races on TV, keeping track of the weather, brewing his special grind of coffee, and keeping track of the weather. His biggest desire was to be able to maintain his independence there, because that is the kind of guy he was. He passed away suddenly on January 8th at his home. We will all miss you, Dad.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents Mamie and Lewis; sister Lois; and brothers Edward and Jack.

He will be lovingly remembered by his children; Nancy Knott (Tom) and Jan Castor (Debra); grandchildren Alex Knott, Lindsay Knott, Jason Castor (Angela), Adam Castor (Heather) and Stephanie Castor; great grandchildren Logan and Auston Castor, Ella Castor, Noah Watson and Avery Anderson, who will all keep Ray’s legacy alive.

A special thank you to Judy Thomas of Nightingale for her years of friendship to Ray and for providing the care and mobility that enabled Dad to remain independent.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to your favorite charity in Ray’s name.

A viewing will be held on Friday, January 22nd from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Schnider Funeral Home located at 1510 13th St. South in Great Falls. Funeral services will be Saturday, January 23rd at 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church located at 610 2nd Avenue North in Great Falls. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Condolences for the family may be left at www.SchniderFuneralHome.com.


Rita Marie (Loundagin) Grasseschi

Rita Marie (Loundagin) Grasseschi was born in Fort Benton on September 9, 1930. She passed from our world on January 16, 2016 at the age of 85.

Rita spent her early years in Fort Benton. As a child she had played with Fort Benton’s “Shep,” the dog, and was part of his funeral procession. Rita attended the College of Great Falls, where she received a degree in education. It was in college that she met her husband, Charles Grasseschi. They were married on August 26, 1953.

Charlie and Rita began their family and had seven children. In 1970 the family relocated to Conrad from Great Falls. Charlie opened a beauty salon and Rita worked for the Co-op and PCA/Federal Land Bank.

Rita loved to play piano. She played organ for St. Michael’s Church for many years. She had a strong religious upbringing and devoted time to her church and community. Rita and Charlie loved to dance.

She is survived by her husband, Charles Grasseschi; children, Teresa (Dan) Aakre of Conrad, Lee (Tina) Grasseschi of Reno, Nevada; Carla (Carl) Younce of Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Robert (Helen) Grasseschi of Great Falls. She thoroughly enjoyed their eight grandchildren, Benjamin and Matthew Aakre; Courtney Williams and Corey Younce; Nicholas, Joseph, Cecelia, and Teresa Grasseschi. She was truly blessed with six great grandchildren; Luke and Elizabeth Aakre, Audrianna, Daniel, and Michael Aakre, and Kyra Younce.

She is preceded in death by her father, Lee Loundagin; mother, Teresa Nigon Loundagin; and three children, Michael, Patrick, and Robert.

Funeral services will be Saturday, January 23, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Conrad. Reception to follow at the church.

Memorials can be made to Pondera Healthcare Foundation.

Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.


Dan Roddy

Dan Roddy, 62, of Fort Benton, passed away on January 16, 2016. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Schnider Funeral Home.


1-13-16 Issue:

Titus Honrud

Titus Donald Honrud, beloved son and little warrior, passed into the glorious presence of his Maker during the early hours of January 8, 2016. He went peacefully, nestled in his favorite place in this world - his mother’s loving arms. Titus was born on November 8, 2015 at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage and admitted to the NICU shortly after. In his short time on this earth, he faced many trials and received continuous medical care in the NICU. Titus loved being swaddled, being held, and having his head washed. Although his family’s hearts are heavy with sorrow, they do not mourn without hope. Their hope and trust is in the Living and Triune God, the source of all love and comfort, and His promise of the resurrection. They are comforted that Titus has been relieved of his difficulties in this life and is now rejoicing with his brother, Christian, in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and they hold fast to the promise that they shall be united again.

Titus is survived by his parents, Derrick and Jenny Honrud of Anchorage; grandparents, Richard and Kristine Honrud of Fort Benton, Montana, and Randy and Linda Bunch of Eugene, Oregon; and great-grandparents, Ronald and Helen (Olson) Van Horn of Fort Benton, Montana, LeRoy Honrud of Fort Benton, Montana, and Russell Bunch of Portland, Oregon; along with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by great-grandparents, Donald Olson, Vivian Honrud, Arren and Eunice Parker, and Joan Bunch; and his elder brother, Christian Isaiah.

A funeral service for Titus will be held at Janssen’s Evergreen Memorial Chapel in Anchorage on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 10 a.m., with private burial to follow at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

The family would like to express heartfelt thanks to all those, near and far, who prayed for, supported, and cared for Titus and them over the last couple months, including the nurses, doctors, and staff at the Providence NICU.

Arrangements are with Janssen’s Evergreen Memorial Chapel.


Ray Castor (Notice)

Ray Castor, 96, of Great Falls and formerly of Carter, passed away Friday, January 8, 2016. A full obituary and a service announcement will be in next week’s River Press. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.


1-6-16 Issue:

Barbara “Bobbie” Lippert

Barbara “Bobbie” Lippert, age 95, of Olivia, died peacefully on Monday, December 28, 2015, surrounded by her family at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, Minnesota. Mass of Christian Burial is Monday, January 11th at 10:30 a.m. at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Olivia with Rev. Mark Mallak as celebrant. Burial is in the church cemetery. Visitation is Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Dirks-Blem Funeral Home in Olivia and continues Monday at the funeral home from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m.

Barbara Frances Lippert was born May 30, 1920 in a ranch house by Carter, Montana, to George and Genneva (Shaw) Lippert. Her parents homesteaded land in Chouteau County and Bobbie grew up on the plains of Montana, where her family raised wheat and cattle. Barbara (Bobbie) graduated from high school from Fort Benton and went on to attain an RN degree from the Columbus School of Nursing in Great Falls.

Bobbie married Milford (MJ) Lippert on November 4th, 1943, in Monterey, California. MJ was then deployed to the South Pacific until 1945. When MJ returned from the war they started a farming operation on the home farm south of Roseland. Bobbie and MJ were blessed with nine children, and these children were mom’s pride and joy. Bobbie reveled at being a mother. She graciously lived her life caring for her family.

Bobbie brought music to the family in her Shaw Irish tradition of playing piano, violin, harmonica, and accordion; and singing, singing, singing!!! Oh how she loved to sing and perform. She was a choir member and cantor at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, member of Sweet Adeline’s, and Woodbury Choir. At 65, Bobbie started tap dancing with the Golden Tappers, performing shows across the county and beyond for over 20 years.

Some of her very favorite family memories include the trips out to Montana to visit Grandma Genneva and relatives in the family’s black and yellow Minnesota bus-camper labeled “From the Land of Clear Blue Waters.”

Bobbie loved horseback riding and rode until she was 85. Bobbie and MJ, along with the family, joined the Amigo Riders Saddle Club in 1956, enjoying years of camping and riding along the Minnesota River Valley.

Bobbie’s dedication to her Catholic faith was always evident in her devotion to mass, prayers and in her words and deeds. She was part of the Council of Catholic Women and enjoyed daily mass after moving a block from the Catholic Church in 1984.

Bobbie was a talented writer and was even published in her 80s. She shared her talent by writing many skits and plays for family events and parties. Bobbie was a true peacemaker and she knew how to make every person feel valued and loved. She would throw open her door to all who knocked and fed everyone who entered with a sweet and tender smile. Bobbie radiated strength of character with deep wells of faith, love and forgiveness. Bobbie was much loved and will be deeply missed by all of those that were fortunate to know her.

Bobbie is survived by her nine children: Marilyn Luptak, New London; Michael (Sharon) Lippert, Willmar; Laura Nere, Olivia; Theresa Lippert (Jim Rieth), Spicer; Anna (Greg) Tepfer, Danube; Daniel (Kim) Lippert, Blomkest; Timothy Lippert, Easton (all cities in Minnesota); Genny (Jeff) Jones, Suamico, Wisconsin; and Lisa (Mark) Roesner, Lakeville, Minnesota; and her sister Nadine Bateman, Fort Benton, Montana. She was blessed with 38 grandchildren: Julie Gohman, Jill Beck, Kristi Hill, Jonathon Kodet, Michelle Rohloff, Kim Schindler, Gary Nere, William Nere, Gabriel Negen, Jamie Lippert, Josh Lippert-Negen, Lucas Lippert, Jessica Tepfer, Ben Tepfer, Andy Tepfer, Tadd Tepfer, Erin Hazen, Tom Lippert, Lauren Lippert, Greta Ranieri, Sister Amati Christi, Jonah Lippert, Eli Lippert, Sarah Lippert, Ezra Lippert, Olivia Lippert, Isaiah Lippert, Moriah Lippert, Noah Lippert, Jaunna Jones, Justine Jones, Josephine Jones, Jordyn Jones, Rachel Roesner, Elle Roesner, Anna Roesner, and Caroline Roesner. She also was blessed with 25 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, MJ Lippert; her bother George Lippert, her sister Josephine McBride, son in-law Galen Nere and daughter-in-law Dixie Lippert.

Blessed Be Her Memory.


Clarence E. Sanders

Clarence E. Sanders, 83, of Highwood, passed away Saturday, January 2, 2016. No services are being planned. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Schnider Funeral Home.


12-30-15 Issue:

Marcella Knedler

Marcella Knedler, 90, longtime resident of Geraldine, passed away December 21, 2015 at Sapphire Assisted Living in Great Falls.

Per her wishes, cremation has taken place and a celebration of life service will be announced in the spring of 2016.

Marcella Makich was born January 17, 1925 in Denton, Montana to Mike and Mary (Landa) Makich. She was raised in Square Butte, attending elementary school there. Marcella graduated from Geraldine High School in 1942. She then went on to the College of Great Falls, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in math along with a teaching certificate.

On May 15, 1948 Marcella married Jim Knedler in Great Falls. To their union a daughter, Brenda and son, Robert joined their legacy.

She taught elementary school for one year in Square Butte, and finished out her teaching career as an elementary school teacher in Geraldine. After her retirement, she volunteered as a teacher’s aide for several years in various Great Falls schools.

Marcella was an election judge in Geraldine, she served on the Montana Historical Society, and she co-authored and co-edited the Geraldine area history book in 1976.

In her free time, she loved gardening - she grew quite a few of her own vegetables and had a beautiful flower garden. She was also interested in antiques and Montana history.

She is survived by her daughter, Brenda Freeman of Great Falls; son, Robert Knedler of Geraldine; grandchildren, Brennan Freeman and Hayley Freeman of Great Falls; brother Max Makich of Glasgow; and her nieces Nancy Steel, Peg Knedler, Sue Knedler, Ann Makich and Jane Gorman.

Marcella was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Knedler.


12-23-15 Issue:

Charles “Charlie” Kind

Charles “Charlie” Kind, 97, of Highwood, passed away Thursday, December 17, 2015 at a local care facility in Fort Benton.

A viewing will be held Sunday, December 20, 2015 at O’Connor Funeral Home from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. A funeral service will be held Monday, December 21, 2015 at the Highwood Gym in Highwood, Montana at 10:00 a.m.

Charles was born on November 14, 1918 to Mary (Bricks) and Henry Kind on their homestead northwest of Power, Montana. He was the 7th child of 10.

When he was 12 years old, his brother Ernie (14), a family friend who was 13 and Charlie, drove 29 horses from Power to Kalispell, just two weeks before the rest of the family moved.

He married the love of his life Loretta Knoll on November 10, 1943. In 1958, they moved their family to Highwood. All of their children grew up working with them at the saw mill. Charlie’s kids and most of his grandkids and some of his great grandkids attended Highwood School, where Charlie and Loretta cheered on almost every sporting event for well over 50 years. In the year 2011, they were named “Super fans” of the year, which he was very proud of.

He loved gardening and entered vegetables at the county fair for over 50 years. Loretta and Charlie won the “Super Gardener” award one year. He lost the love of his life after 69 years of marriage in 2013.

Some of his favorite pastimes included hunting, fishing, playing cards and attending all sporting events. His greatest love was his wife and family.

He is survived by all of his children: Sandy (Bill) Zanto, Chuck (Carol) Kind, Renee (Arnold Jr.) Kotthoff, Darwin (Cheryl) Kind, Laurie (Larry) Baum, and Holly Willis; 19 grandchildren; 26 great grandchildren; and 2 great great-grandchildren. All who knew him and his humor understand why he will be so greatly missed.

Thank you, Dad, for always being there for us and being the loving foundation that we stand on today. We love and miss you, and look forward to our reunion in heaven. What a legacy you have left behind.


12-16-15 Issue:

No obituaries this week


12-9-15 Issue:

Calvin Todd Lane

Calvin Todd Lane (43) passed away suddenly while playing basketball with his sons in Broadview on December 6, 2015.

Calvin was born to Lee and Susan (Conover) Lane on February 25, 1972. Knowing from an early age that he had heart complications, Calvin lived his life to the fullest, and chose to make every day special. He grew up and attended schools in Broadview, graduating in 1990. He briefly attended college before returning home to the family ranch. He spent time working as an EMT in the Billings area and loved this opportunity to help others.

He met his best friend and the love of his life, Mylo Kalanick, and they were married on June 6, 1998 in Fort Benton. They were blessed with three children, Max, Timothy and MyCal Ann. Calvin was the ultimate family man, husband and father. Whether it was coaching Max and Timothy’s basketball 3-on-3 teams or reading bedtime stories to Mycal; he considered his family one of his greatest accomplishments and they meant the world to him. He enjoyed taking them camping and hunting for Christmas trees.

He was an avid reader and sports fan. He loved politics. He was a member of the Masons, and belonged to Rapelje Lodge #122, Al Bedoo Shrine and Scottish Rite. He served on the Farmers Union board of directors, and for many years as a volunteer fireman.

Calvin knew no stranger, always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Many will remember Calvin as the one you could always count on. He would rather give to and care for others than receive anything in return. They said he was born with a faulty heart but anyone who knew Calvin knew that his heart was perfect. It was always in the right place and the perfect size, strengthened by his ever-growing faith. Calvin’s family strives to approach life in the same way he did. He was an example for us all.

He is survived by his wife, Mylo, his children Max (14), Timothy (11) and MyCal Ann (7), his parents Lee and Susan, sister Cam, brother Tyler and several nieces and nephews, extended family and friends.

There will be a vigil service on Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. Funeral Services will be held Friday, December 11th, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Laurel (700 3rd Ave). If you knew Calvin you know that in lieu of flowers he would simply request that you vote Republican.

Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting smithfuneralchapels.com.


Duane Lee Frieling

Fort Benton resident Duane Lee Frieling, “Duke,” 58, passed away from natural causes on or around the 6th of November. He died in the family home where he was born and raised and lived most of his life. He was preceded in death by his parents, John E. and Genevieve Frieling, as well as sister Paula Jean and infant sister Darlene Ann.

Duke was a big sports enthusiast. He played varsity football and basketball, and graduated from Fort Benton High School in 1975. He attended Northern Montana College in Havre and graduated with a degree in history. He then taught history and coached girls basketball in Turner, Montana.

Duane married Brenda Modic in Havre, Montana, then later were divorced, after which he taught and coached in Winett.

When his father became ill, he moved back to Fort Benton and helped with the farm and Vets Club full time. He was able to help his mother through the ordeal by doing a large part of the caregiving. Duke would later have to do the same for his mother. The best part of Duane left with his parents; he was never the same.

The Duke was an avid crossword puzzle fan and listened to all the local sports on the radio. He refereed some local JV football and basketball games, and he also bowled for a spell. His cats were his constant companions and he puttered with his plants; he had a green thumb.

The family is planning a vigil of sorts at the cabin in May of 2016, to honor both Paula Jean and Duane Lee.


12-2-15 Issue:

John Edwin (Eddie) Dea III

John Edwin Dea III, 52, of Great Falls, went home to be with the Lord on Monday, November 23, 2015 after complications from a stroke at Peace Hospice. Eddie was surrounded by family and friends.

A funeral liturgy was held Monday, November 30 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Great Falls. Schnider funeral home handled arrangements.

Ed spent his adult life helping others. He began working in healthcare as an EMT in 1984 for Bicsak Ambulance service, and later for Mercy Flight. He became one of the earliest groups of paramedics in the area. In 1990, he earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from MSU, subsequently working in the ER and on Mercy Flight for many years. In 2008, he received his graduate degree as a Nurse Practitioner, and worked in a variety of areas, including the ER. He had planned to continue on working toward a doctorate degree. He began working as a family nurse practitioner at Benton Medical Center in Fort Benton in November 2013. He stopped working at Benton Medical Center the following year due to health reasons.

He was nicknamed “Fast Eddie” because of his passion for boat racing. Eddie’s other passions included water skiing, barefooting, jet skiing, scuba diving and anything to do with being on or near water. He loved hot weather and spent many summers at Seeley and Holter Lake with family and friends.

Eddie will be remembered for his genuine love and compassion for helping people, also for his jolly laugh and heartwarming smile and his beautiful piercing blue eyes. Eddie loved and was always so proud of his daughters. They were truly the reason Eddie hung on for as long as he did. He struggled with health issues for many years, but never let it slow him down. Eddie touched so many lives and was truly loved by everyone he met and will be missed by everyone who knew him. His daughters, Lynda and Melissa, loved their daddy with all of their heart and were always there for him.

Eddie left behind two loving daughters, Lynda Dea (Daddy’s Peanut) of Missoula and Melissa Dea (Daddy’s Pumpkin) of Great Falls; former wife Darcy Dea of Great Falls; brother Jim (Mary) Dea of Great Falls; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Alice Dea.

In lieu of flowers, a trust fund has been set up at US Bank for the girls.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.SchniderFuneralHome.com.


Irma Louis Chavet Paul

Irma Louis Chavet Paul was born in Beatrice, Nebraska to Walter and Helen Chavet. She spent her early childhood on a farm with her two brothers and one sister until the early 1940s. Her family then moved to Puyallup, Washington.

Irma was working for Pacific Bell Telephone when she met George W. Paul. They wed June 28, 1947. Their life together was always an adventure. During the early years they lived in Richmond, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., then moving to Fort Benton, Montana. Irma worked for the county superintendent of schools then the State of Montana in Helena until she retired.

Much of Irma’s life was devoted to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary. She was a Life Member where she held various positions from the local level to State President and then National Color Bearer. During her term as State President she had the honor of having tea in the White House with First Lady Pat Nixon.

Irma was a dedicated volunteer for 25 years at the VA Medical Center, Fort Harrison, Montana. That is when she became instrumental in the development and building of “The Liberty House.” She then served as chairwoman for many years. She and George loved to travel to all parts of the United States and abroad. Summers you would find them at the Gates of the Mountains boating or fishing. Most recently she lived in Oklahoma City, Okla., to be with her immediate family.

Her son, George Eugene Paul, her husband, George W. Paul, two brothers, Alan Chavet and Steve Chavet, and her parents Walter and Helen Chavet preceded her in death. Surviving are her daughter, Jody Biggers and son in law Lloyd Biggers, two grandsons, David Biggers, Tulsa, Okla. and Josh Biggers and his wife Tanya, Beulaville, North Carolina. She has three great grandchildren, Bailey, Avery and Devlin. Her sister, Norma Graham resides in Tacoma, Washington. Her brother in law, Gordon Paul, lives in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Also still living in various parts of the country are nieces and nephews.

She loved unconditionally and we shall miss her sweet compassion she so freely gave. November 25, 2015 God welcomed Irma with His loving arms into her final home.

A graveside service will be at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery, Fort Harrison, on December 3, 2015 at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at the Fort Harrison Recreation Room at the VA Hospital. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Liberty House Foundation, P.O. Box 81, Fort Harrison, MT 59636. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Irma.


11-25-15 Issue:

No obituaries this week


11-18-15 Issue:

Howard Meeks Jr.

November 5th Howard Meeks Jr., 97, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Fort Benton, Montana. A graveside service will be held at the Riverside Cemetery, Fort Benton, at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20, followed by a luncheon at noon in the Agricultural Center.

Howard was born June 8, 1918 to Howard Sr. and Elizabeth Meeks in the Saint Claire Hospital, Fort Benton, Montana. Howard was the third of four children. His parents homesteaded in “Pleasant Valley.” Howard was raised there and attended the Pleasant Valley School through the 6th grade. He graduated in 1936 from the Chouteau County High School in Fort Benton. After high school he joined the Civilian Conservation Corp stationed in the state of Washington. He returned to Montana and attended college in Missoula, majoring in Forestry. After two years in Missoula, he transferred to Bozeman to pursue an agricultural degree. He joined the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While in the Navy, he was allowed to finish his education in Bozeman, graduating with a BS degree in Agriculture. He was in the Navy Air Corps from 1942 to 1943. He transferred to the Marine Corps Air Service in Sept. 1943. He piloted B25 Mitchell bombers and transport planes in the South Pacific. After WWII ended, 1st Lieutenant Meeks returned to Montana to farm but he remained in the MCAS reserves.

He married Norma Jean Montgomery May 1, 1947. They had three children. The Marine Corps called him back to service during the Korean War in 1950 as part of a new helicopter unit. He was stationed in Japan until his discharge in 1954. Major Meeks returned to his family. He was anxious to start farming again in Chouteau County, Montana. In addition to farming, he flew a Piper Cub airplane in his crop spraying business. The last year of his spraying business, he used a helicopter.

Norma passed away in 1964. In 1978 he married Virginia Tacke. They enjoyed traveling to the Panama Canal and China, visiting the Great Wall. While on a trip to Alaska, Howard enjoyed a flight into the Arctic Circle. Virginia passed away in 2009.

His hobby was restoring antique Case tractors. He enjoyed the game battleship with his children and grandchildren. Virginia was required to kept batteries on hand as it was much more exciting to play with the electronic sounds. All the grandkids knew where his stash of Smarties candy was kept.

He was loved by his family and will be missed.

He is survived by his daughters Karen Sansoucie and Carla (Kim) Singer and his son Monty (Jayn) Meeks, all of Fort Benton. His surviving stepchildren are Kate (Dick) Kurfess of Oregon and Tom (Jackie) Tacke of California. His grandchildren are Stacie (Scott) Schissler and Kyle (Justin) Hager of Great Falls and Janae (Anthony) Singer and Ginger (Travis) Knoll of Houston, Texas. Great grandchildren are Dane and Dylan Hager and Connor Schissler. He is also survived by his brother Archie Meeks of Kansas.

He was preceded in death by his brother William (Eleanor) Meeks Sr., sister Leah (Charles) Dixon and wives Norma and Virginia.

The family would like to thank the staff of the Sunrise Bluffs, and Naldean and Brenda for the wonderful care they provided Howard.

Memorials can be made to the Dedman Foundation of Fort Benton or the charity of a donor’s choice. Condolences may be posted at www.misermortuaries.com.


Duane Lee “Duke” Frieling

Duane Lee “Duke” Frieling, 58, of Fort Benton, a former teacher and janitor who enjoyed sports, died Monday, November 9, 2015 at his home. Survivors include brothers Greg Frieling of Lake Zorich, Illinois, and John A. Frieling and Doug Frieling, both of Cascade. He is preceded in death by his father, John E. and Genny E. Frieling; sister, Paula J. and Darleen Ann. No services are planned at this time.


Devin Gene Leistiko

Devin Gene Leistiko, 18, born November 2, 1997. 18 years 1 week and 12 ½ hours we were blessed with the best gift that God ever gave us. With his caring heart and his big cheery grin, he touched everyone that crossed his path, family, friends, and strangers alike. From his love of sports to his love of work Devin’s favorite time of the year wasn’t Christmas but branding. No challenge was too big or too small for Devin to take on, from back to back state champs 6 man football team, to a successful 10 years of 4-H. A freak accident took him from us at this young age.

He is survived by his loving parents, Eric and Melissa; his loved sisters that he was so proud of, Morgan, Payten, Kaitlyn, and Brynn; grandparents, Roy and Susan Lundy, Steve Leistiko, and Penny Leistiko; aunts and uncles, Joel and Lousia Lundy, and Troy Leistiko, and too many great aunts, uncles, cousins and friends that loved him to list. He will forever be in our hearts.

A celebration of life was held Saturday, November 14, at the Geraldine High School.

Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.


11-11-15 Issue:

Martha Steven

Martha Elizabeth (Yurman) Steven was born October 1st, 1919 on a family farm ten miles northwest of Chester, Montana. Her parents were Michael and Ida (Kerbes) Yurman. Martha’s maternal grandmother, Matlia Yurman, being a practicing midwife in the rural neighborhood, delivered her into the world (as well as her two sisters).

Martha was the middle daughter to the Yurmans, who were second-generation Estonian settlers in the area. As a child she attended the local Gruhman country school. Both at home and at the school, Martha and her sisters spoke Estonian prior to learning English. The girls rode ponies to school. One time Martha’s pony ran off with the wild mustangs of the Sweet Grass plains, so she took off on foot trying to catch it.

Martha and her sisters eventually attended high school in Chester, where they brushed up on the English language. After Martha graduated from Chester High in 1937, she attended college in Havre.  It was there she gained teaching credentials and actively participated in the college’s literary journal called “Inky Fingers.”

Shortly after college Martha taught at a country school near Kalispell. She met her future husband, Rae C. Steven, at the Shelby roller skating rink. The couple was married October 24th, 1941. Soon after they moved to Cincinnati, where Rae worked as an engineer, designing components for World War II aircrafts. After the war the Stevens moved back to Montana and eventually settled into farming with Martha’s parents near Chester. They raised a family of four children and lived in the Chester community for 15 years before moving to the Big Bend Ranch on the Missouri River near Virgelle, where they continued to farm and ranch until retirement.

Martha served as the kindergarten teacher in Chester, then later at the Big Sandy School District. She welcomed everyone into her home in Big Sandy, where she lived with her children during the winter school months. In both the Chester and Virgelle communities Martha was active in 4-H leadership, Republican politics, and Lutheran church activities. As a leader of the Lothair Clover Leaf 4-H Club at Tiber, Martha wrote and produced several short plays entitled “Magnificent Baloney” and “The Red-Headed Stranger,” which were performed by the 4-H kids on Demonstration Day. Many years later one of these plays was performed again in special tribute to Martha.

Martha also enjoyed reading literature and gardening. She was an active member of the Flower Growers in Fort Benton. Her handmade sculptures of driftwood, stones, flowers, and metal antiques often won high ratings at local fairs. Martha also enjoyed bowling, collecting plates and vases, and shopping!

She and Rae spent many summers welcoming their Chester friends down at the river and they always stayed in touch with the Chester community, eventually operating both the Chester farm and the Virgelle ranch. After Rae passed away in 2004, Martha lived in Fort Benton on Franklin Street, then moved to “The Bluffs” senior residence in 2009. Due to declining health in 2014 she transferred to The Grandview at Benefis in Great Falls. Martha died there peacefully on October 19th, 2015 at the age of 96 years.

Martha had an enormous exuberance for life and enjoyed travelling with Rae in their later years; two memorable trips were to South America and Estonia. She loved to take her daughters-in-law and son-in-law on area road trips to share the scenery and local history of towns and places they visited. Martha will be sorely missed by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends.

Martha was preceded in death by her husband and parents, her older sister (Hilda Broeder), her younger sister (Helen Conrad), her oldest daughter (Martha Rae Steven in 1967), her daughter-in-law (Patricia Steven), and a sister-in-law (Maude Echols).

She is survived by her two sons: William “Bill” Steven, PhD, of Stonewall, Louisiana, and James “Jim” Steven and wife Carol of Chester; and daughter Ida Steven and husband Ray Gonzalez of Lakeville, Minnesota; five grandchildren: Rebecca Steven, Sarah Waddell, Lana Rupprecht, Charles Beach, and Samantha “Sam” Steven; eight great-grandchildren: Abigail “Abby”, William, Hannah W., Whitney, Hans, Hannah R., Jaedyn, and Sophia; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Her family would like to thank the kind and generous staff at the Grandview in Great Falls for their loving care of Martha this past year. They also extend their appreciation to the staff at the Fort Benton Sunrise Bluffs for the kindness and care to Martha during her five years of residency there.

A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19th, 2015 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Chester. Martha’s ashes will be buried at the Chester Cemetery, where she will rest with her beloved family members and in sight of her cherished Sweet Grass Hills. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall. Arrangements are being handled by the Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester.


Eleanor M. Kelly

Eleanor M. Kelly, 83, passed away peacefully in her sleep November 4, 2015 at Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton.

Rosary services will be Tuesday, November 10, at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, with a funeral mass at the church on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery.

Eleanor was born December 10, 1931 in Choteau. She was the first child of Sid and Molly Pimperton. Later, she was joined by brother, Donald, and sister, Phyllis. As a young girl, her father bought a ranch east of Fort Benton, along the Missouri River, and later the family moved to town. Eleanor was Homecoming Queen of her senior class and graduated from FBHS in 1950. After attending the University of Montana, she married Johnny Kelly on October 25, 1952 in Fort Benton and moved to the Kelly ranch on the Teton River. To this union, five children were born: Kay (Bailey), Tim, Ed, and Con, all of Fort Benton, and Eileen (Coates) of Canby, Oregon.

Eleanor was a very happy and eternally optimistic person. Throughout her life, despite many hardships, she always had a positive view of life and people. She enjoyed a good laugh while among her many friends and family. They in turn took great pleasure and delight in her good nature and sunny disposition. She was particularly fond of attending birthday parties for her children and grandchildren. She attended all their activities at school, sports, and events. Mom loved to sew and spent many hours sewing clothes and costumes. She also liked to bake and was known for her black forest cake and orange rolls. She was a very devout Catholic all her life and attended mass regularly until her health began to fail. Eleanor was active in the St. Elizabeth Circle; she volunteered to help at weddings and funerals and taught Sunday school.

Later in life, she received excellent care at the Missouri River Medical Center. She was very fond of her caretakers at the hospital and was often found singing and humming as she went about her day. Eleanor sang the old songs and nursery rhymes; she remained happy until her last days.

Eleanor is survived by her brother Donald Pimperton and sister Phyllis Hodgson; her children, Kay (Bailey), Eileen (Coates), Tim, Ed, and Con Kelly; and nine beloved grandchildren, Nikki, Bryan, Leigh, and Molly Bailey, Tori Hankins, Heidi Hansen, Lenise (Brian) Bennett, Mandy (TJ) Zumbusch, and Kyle Kelly; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, Johnny Kelly.

Expressions of support may be given to the Alzheimer’s Association of Montana or to a charity of your choice.


Margaret (Culbertson) Wilhelm

Margaret Louise Culbertson was born in Fort Benton, Montana on September 16, 1915, to John S. Culbertson and Leonora de la Roche Patterson Culbertson. She died on October 6, 2015, 20 days after her 100th birthday. Her family was with her at her memory care facility in Clackamas, Oregon.

Margaret’s family moved to Oregon when she was 11 years old. She was a long time resident of the Eastmoreland neighborhood. Margaret attended Woodstock Grade School and was the oldest living alumni at their 100th school celebration. She then went on to graduate from Franklin High School.

Margaret married Wilfred C. Wilhelm on August 12, 1938, at All Saint’s Episcopal Church. Mr. Wilhelm died in 2009. They had three children— W. Clay Wilhelm (Pat); Barbara Menard (Frank); and Janice McCall (Scott). Margaret is survived also by her grandchildren and great grandchildren, Tom Wilhelm (Tina), Kay Wilson (Kurt), Katie Anderson (Jared), Joe McCall (Cheri); Christopher Wilson, Connor Wilson, Maryn Anderson; and six step grandchildren, 11 step great grandchildren, and six step great great grandchildren. She also survived three brothers, Dr. John S., George D., and James F., and one sister, Lydia.

Margaret was a devoted mother, grandmother, great grandmother and wife. She was very involved in All Saint’s Episcopal Church during her life. Margaret was a member of the DAR-Oregon Trail Chapter; a Life Member of O.E.S. Waverly Chapter and Sellwood Chapter.

Special thanks to her caregiver Ruthie Johnson and the staff at Miramont Pointe and to Seasons Hospice Care.

A funeral service was held Oct. 10 at Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Funeral Home. Interment was at River View Cemetery.

Donations may be made to American Cancer Society or Juvenile Diabetes Association (JDA).


11-4-15 Issue:

Michael John Fjelsted

Michael John Fjelsted, 60, passed away at Benefis Hospital, Great Falls, Montana, on Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Mike was born in Menominee, Wisconsin, on January 20, 1955, to James John and Lois Mae (Johnson) Fjelsted. He attended school in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, through the middle of eighth grade, when the family moved to Fort Benton, Montana, in November of 1968.

Mike graduated from Fort Benton High School in 1973. During high school he worked at Bennett’s grocery as well as Carl Tadej Electric. After graduation he spent a few years in Alaska working. When he returned he spent time working around Sidney, Colstrip and Forsyth.

In 1989 he returned home and went to work for Harry Birkenbuel, a local contractor in Great Falls. He later received his license as a certified electrician and began working for Liberty Electric as a commercial electrician. Mike was employed with Liberty Electric for 15 years, retiring in 2012 due to health reasons.

Mike was a gifted athlete. He excelled in golf, playing in numerous tournaments throughout the area. He would have been a good basketball player, but his growth spurt to 6’4” occurred after graduation.

Mike loved to fish and hunt, hence the nickname, “Fish.” He loved his walleye.

“Fish” loved his dogs: there was Blue in Alaska; Brittney, his cocker spaniel; and currently his shih tzu, Dusty.

Mike is survived by his mother, Lois Fjelsted; sister, Debby (Dean) Vielleux; and brother, Scott Fjelsted; nephews Jared (Carley) Vielleux and Trevor (Katie) Vielleux; niece Alexa Fjelsted; great nieces Jaelyn, Samantha and Tenlea; great nephews Kelton and Parker, and aunts, uncles and many cousins.

He was preceded in death by his father, Jim; and grandparents Ausman and Mary Fjelsted and Emil and Mary Johnson.

Graveside services were held at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton on Monday, November 2. Mike’s friends were honorary pallbearers. Miser Mortuaries handled the arrangements.

Memorials may be made to the Dedman Foundation or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

“Fish” will be missed by all who knew him.


10-28-15 Issue:

Burke Denley Allen

Burke Denley Allen, age 81, died October 26, 2015 in Big Sandy and was attended by his son Tom.

Burke was born on October 3, 1934 to Dorothy and Ethan Allen in Minneapolis. Burke attended Box Elder High School. Immediately out of high school Burke attended Northern Montana College and then joined the U.S. Air Force. During a dance out at Fresno Dam he met the love of his life - Florence Creamer, with whom he would spend the next 59 years. Burke and Florence married in 1955. They spent time in Great Falls while Burke was with the Air Force and then moved to Box Elder, Montana, to take up farming. Times were tough and eventually Burke took a job with the U-Haul company, where they spent time in Great Falls and Missoula before eventually coming back to Box Elder to help with the family farm.

Burke loved his family and especially camping and traveling with them. Together, Burke and Florence traveled extensively with the highlight being a recent trip to England to visit their granddaughter Cara and her family. Camping trips were the centerpiece of every summer and also attending their grandchildren’s sporting events, which took up most of their winters even while they were in Arizona.

Burke is predeceased by his wife and best friend Florence and his sister Dianne. He leaves behind three children; Denny (Betsy) Allen of Helena, Tom (Maranna) Allen of Big Sandy and Karen (Dan) Hammond of Boise, Idaho. He was blessed with six grandchildren who were the loves of his life; Aubrey, Jacob and Grace Allen and Casey and Cody Hammond and Cara Montgomery and their families. He also has five great-grandchildren; Hunter and Ethan Montgomery and Avery, Marlie and Lindy Jo Hammond. Burke is also survived by his sister Lynne (Dick) of Hoodsport, Washington. Burke was also predeceased by his mother Dorothy Bitz and father Ethan Allen.

Funeral services will be held at the Big Sandy Methodist Church in Big Sandy, Montana on October 31 at 1 p.m. Interment will be at the Big Sandy Cemetery.

Donations in Burke’s name can be made to the Big Sandy Senior Center or Big Sandy Medical Center.


Martha Steven (Notice)

Martha Elizabeth (Yurman) Steven, age 96, a Chester native, school teacher, farm wife, and mother of four, who lived and farmed in the Fort Benton/Big Sandy communities since 1961, died at the Grandview at Benefis in Great Falls on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Rae, in 2004; a daughter, Martha Rae, in 1967; two sisters, Hilda and Helen; and her parents.

Survivors are three children, Bill Steven of Louisiana, Jim Steven of Chester, and Ida Steven of Minnesota; five grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.

Martha was cremated. A memorial service is being planned at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Chester. Her ashes will be buried in the family plot at the Chester Cemetery. Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester is handling arrangements. There will be a full obituary at a later date.


Maxyne Bessette (Notice)

There will be a casual gathering in remembrance of Maxyne Bessette on Friday, October 30, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Church of God Fellowship Hall in Big Sandy.


10-21-15 Issue:

No obituaries this week


10-14-15 Issue:

Barbara Agnes Virginia Conrad Kegel

Mom died in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 29, 2015.

Barbara was a beauty queen from Chinook, Montana; a farm girl born to Bertha and Jesse Conrad on February 7, 1923. In 1939, she married handsome Fred Kegel from Turner, Montana, and followed his railroad career until finally settling in Fort Benton, where they built their home and raised their six children. On the corner where we lived were 15 kids and more in houses down the block. All were welcome in her house, but she didn’t make a big fuss over them. In fact, she usually sat at the dining room table during lunch, paging through her magazine and ignoring the mass of kids gathered in our house. When we set the table for dinner we called out, how many plates? We always had an extra one or two for friends. We were advised by her at all points to join it, do it, get out there, you are young for such a short time. And we did. The house smelled like a gym for years while she laundered sporting uniforms and cheerleading outfits. Her four boys were football and basketball players, swimmers and wrestlers, and she and Dad never missed a game, even when it meant driving through blizzards, ice, snow and everything Montana. She sat under blankets and cheered, but always laughed that she didn’t know what was going on. She seemed to the world like such a sweetie, but we knew she was the boss, the finance director, and the final word. She was fearless and had a backbone of steel. Because she supported our lives, we were free. She cleaned up after us and cheered us on. After an event, she waited in the breakfast nook, a cozy place known to so many, and waited until the late night hours to hear what had gone on. When we entered the house, no matter when, we would sound out, “Mom?” If she wasn’t there, which was rare, we were at a loss.

Mom enjoyed life in her dreamy, artist’s way. She extolled the intricate beauty of an iris, loved baby hands and feet, butterflies, dragonflies and birds. When she had a moment of quiet, we could find her at the sewing machine where she created costumes, gowns and Barbie Doll clothes, and repaired everything from camping tents to horse gear. When she used gentle fabrics for sewing, she spent most of the time touching and admiring the fabric. She finished projects on the finish line and not a minute sooner, because finishing wasn’t what she loved. She loved the process. She was an artist of many nearly-finished paintings. We are blessed to have her scrap books of drawings and paintings reflecting her hopes and dreams and how she saw herself as a young girl.

Although she lived in Montana for almost 90 years, she loved to travel, willing to hop into any car that stopped at her curb. We used to say that she sat in her house in Fort Benton with one foot out the door, ready to go. She took great joy in the world around her.

Mom spent the last three years of her life in Salt Lake City with Jan and Debra Castor’s family, where a whole new community came to know and love her. We give our thanks to Coventry Assisted Living for their loving care and to Rocky Mountain Care for their tender mercies. She wasn’t afraid of death after she lost her lovely boy, K.C. Although his death knocked her over, she got her balance slowly like an injured creature and came back to us. We will miss her intelligence, her sharp wit and her curiosity. She was our rock and the glue that kept our family connected. Our lives will not be the same without her and we will say goodbye to her with gratitude and sorrow.

Mom’s parents, husband, four beloved siblings (Jerome Conrad, Richard Conrad, Marcella Entorf and Maxine Johnson), and K.C. preceded her in death.

She leaves behind her children, Dennis Kegel, Roxanne (Gary) Rowe, Debra (Jan) Castor, Greg (Sherry) Kegel and Curt (Cheryl) Kegel; 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild, and many “adopted” children.

A vigil service will be held on Friday, October 23, 2015 at 8 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. A funeral liturgy will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1223 16th Street, Fort Benton, Montana on October 24, 2015 at 11 a.m. with a visitation at 10 a.m. Interment to follow at Riverside Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.


Maxyne (Harris) Bessette

Maxyne (Harris) Bessette, age 93, of Loma, Montana, died October 9 at the Big Sandy Nursing Home. The staff’s kind, loving care kept her final years pleasant and safe.

Maxyne, the youngest of 10 children, was born in Fort Benton, Montana, on August 16, 1922, to Elbert and Daisy Harris. Maxyne spent her young years on a farm outside of Loma. When she started school, the family moved into Loma. She attended high school in Fort Benton until her marriage to Wilfrid Bessette on May 21, 1940. Their first home was a farm on the Kenilworth Road near Big Sandy, and in 1942 they moved a few miles to their Marias River home where she spent 62 years. She always said she would “never marry a farmer,” but they spent many happy years together. After Wilfrid’s death in 1981, Maxyne continued to live at the ranch for several years. She eventually moved to the Missouri River near Virgelle to be closer to family. She always said she was very lucky to have two wonderful rivers to call home, and she continued to visit both of them even after she moved into the Big Sandy Nursing Home, until her health declined, making her weekly rides to the country impossible.

Maxyne loved to read and collected many books on places to travel. She also loved histories of all areas of the state of Montana. She loved the water and when the weather permitted, she would swim in the river with grandchildren and in later years appreciated a swimming pool in her yard. Maxyne enjoyed dancing at the Kenilworth, Carter or Loma Halls. She and Wilfrid spent many winters attending snowmobile races and she was his greatest cheerleader. They traveled several places in their motorhome and went to Alaska twice. They also enjoyed visits with family in Missouri and Iowa. They loved rock hound adventures and enjoyed the desert during several winters in Quartzsite, Arizona. After Wilfrid’s passing, Maxyne shared many additional adventures with friends and family.

She is survived by three daughters, Mary Ellen (Willie) Vischer of Carter, Montana, Lynda (Larry) Vielleux of Loma, Montana, and Pat West of Chandler, Arizona; six grandchildren; ten great grandchildren; and nine great-great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, all three of her brothers, all six of her sisters, and her husband of 41 years.

Cremation has taken place, and at Maxyne’s request, no services will be held. There will, however, be a casual gathering in remembrance of Maxyne on Friday, October 30, at the Church of God Fellowship Hall in Big Sandy from 9 to 11 am. A private scattering of ashes will take place at a later date

Memorial donations may be directed to the Big Sandy Medical Center in Big Sandy, Montana, or to the charity of your choice. Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. Please visit Maxyne’s online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for her family at www.hollandbonine.com.


Kenneth “Ken” Albert Burlingame

Kenneth “Ken” Albert Burlingame, 86, of Billings, passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on October 5, 2015.

He was born in 1928 in Great Falls to Jeannette Bochencamp Burlingame and Nigel Burlingame. He was raised by Cecil and Lorna Huffman in Choteau. He attended school in Choteau, graduating from Teton County High in 1947.

He served a full term in the US Army. After being discharged from the army, Ken continued his service in the Montana National Guard.

On October 3, 1954, Ken married Lucy May Cherry in Choteau. Ken and Lucy moved to Fort Benton in 1957. He worked as a butcher at Bennett’s IGA for the next 15 years. During this time they raised their family and were active members of the community, coaching little league, scouts, and school sports. Also, Ken was an active member of the Fort Benton Community Bible Church. In 1972 they moved to Billings, where he developed a love for the game of golf. He became an accomplished golfer. Ken was an active member of Billings Bible Church and later Faith Evangelical Church.

Kenneth is survived by his wife of 61 years, Lucy Cherry Burlingame, their four children and spouses, Terry Burlingame (Vicki), Cinda Grubb (Larry), Harvey Burlingame (Neva), Debra Burlingame; and also three grandchildren, Johnathan Grubb, Brittany Burlingame, and Danielle Grubb. He will be missed by all.

A memorial service with military honors will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 10, 2015 at Cremation & Funeral Gallery. Inurnment will take place in the Absaroka Beartooth Columbarium.

Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery. Condolences can be sent through www.cfgbillings.com through “Our Families.”


Adam R. Cecrle

Adam Cecrle, 42, of Geraldine, was taken from this earth October 3, 2015. A memorial service was held Friday, October 9, at St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church in Big Sandy. Interment followed at Big Sandy Cemetery. Benton Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

Adam was born on October 28, 1972 to Richard Cecrle and Andrea Gingrich Cecrle in Big Sandy, Montana.

Adam was a hard worker and put 110% into everything he did. He did not give up, he did not ask for anything, he did not back down. His passion was farming and producing grain in Geraldine and Big Sandy. He was very proud of his choice of being a farmer.

Adam enjoyed attending sporting events, boating, water skiing, camping, crabbing and being around his friends and family. He would travel all over the country just to see a friend.

His other calling in his life was to be a true caretaker. He often put aside his needs just to lend a helping hand. He was a genuine person, a kind man and one Hell of a Son.

Adam is survived by his parents Richard Cecrle and Andrea Gingrich; his fiancé Misty Peterson and her children Taylor, Tristin and Trinity; his sis Celeste Kovatch and brother-in-law and friend Kory Kovatch, nephew Kasen and niece Kinley; his aunts, uncles, and cousins; many good friends, and his loyal dog, Hank.

Adam is preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Lester and Irene Gingrich. He will be laid to rest with his paternal grandparents, Henry and Clara Cecrle.


10-7-15 Issue:

Omar Swett

Omar Swett, longtime resident of Chouteau County, passed away Wednesday, September 16, 2015. A memorial service for Omar will be held Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2 p.m. at Sunrise Bluff Estates in Fort Benton.

Omar was born June 12, 1933, at St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. He attended schools in Chouteau County, after which he worked as a bulldozer operator for Hilde Construction in Great Falls. In 1953 Omar joined the Army. He was sent to Korea, where he built roads and runways for the Army.

After his service in the Army, Omar spent a few years in Washington near one of his brothers. He spent many years down on the Missouri River working for Charlie Lippard, and subsequent owners of what is now the Red Flame Ranch out of Loma. He moved to Ryegate, Montana, with Grant and Silver DeSaye and family when they sold the ranch to its current owners. In 2001 Omar returned to Fort Benton, where he worked for the school until his retirement.

Omar was an avid fan of the Fort Benton Longhorns, and followed their activities with the same enthusiasm as when he watched professional sports. He was an ardent patriot, and raised and lowered the flag at Sunrise Bluffs every morning and evening until his health precluded him from doing so. He was a member of the VFW Color Guard and participated in their activities for many years.

Omar loved animals. He spent the majority of his life looking after calves and colts. After the loss of his longtime canine companion, Ginger, he befriended a wild little calico kitten which he named Callie. Callie remains at Sunrise Bluffs, and is lovingly cared for by Omar’s friends Betty Meyer and Clara Atkinson. Omar spent many an hour his last few years in the lobby at the Bluffs, visiting with all who came by, and keeping an eye on the lobby cat, parrot and dog.

Omar was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Pearl (Footit) Sweat, his brother Jerry and half-brother Jimmy. He is survived by two half-sisters, as well as many friends and his Sunrise Bluffs family.


Adam R. Cecrle (Notice)

Memorial services for Adam R. Cecrle will be Friday, October 9, at 2 p.m. at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Big Sandy.

A full obit will be in next week’s edition. Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.


9-30-15 Issue:

Florence Lillian Siebenaler

Florence Lillian (Breault) Siebenaler, 88, passed away peacefully on September 23, 2015 after an extended illness at the Missouri River Medical Center.

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon, September 28, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fort Benton. A graveside ceremony followed at Riverside Cemetery.

Florence was born November 11, 1926, to Emiel and Alexina Breault in Fort Benton. Upon graduation from high school she went to work at the first Chouteau County Bank and was employed there for over 40 years. It was at the bank that she met the love of her life, Warren. They celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on September 10, 2015. To this union four children were born; William, Mary, Phyllis, and Mike.

Florence was a very giving person and always put everyone else before herself. She loved her family above all else. A very devout Catholic, she is now in the arms of her Lord. She was a caring wife, mother, and grandmother. She loved gardening in her and Warren’s beautiful yard, especially the roses. She enjoyed camping, spending a day in the mountains, reading, and after retirement Florence would do the daily crossword puzzle. Most of all, she enjoyed time spent with her family.

Survivors include her husband, Warren Siebenaler of Fort Benton; daughter, Mary (Murray) Forster of Didsbury, Alberta; son, Michael (Darlene) Siebenaler of Great Falls; four grandsons, Marcus (Tammy), Michael, and Mitchell (Rachel), all of Alberta, and Miles (Jade) Forster of Vancouver, B.C.; and four great grandchildren, Desarai, Cordell, Odin, and Freya Forster.

She was preceded in death by parents; son, Billy Siebenaler; daughter, Fobe Peres; brother, Bill Breault; sisters, Margaret MacKenzie and Irene Prodger.


James Bevan “JB” Walker

James Bevan “JB” Walker, 50, passed away suddenly of natural causes on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at his home in Floweree.

A celebration of his 50 years of life was held Monday afternoon, September 28, at the Montana Agricultural Center in Fort Benton.

JB was born in Great Falls, Montana, on April 8, 1965, to Hal “Sonny” and Diane Walker. He was raised on a farm/ranch in Floweree, Montana. He attended K-12 schools in Carter and Fort Benton, where he was active in football and wrestling. He went on to Northern Montana College in Havre. His education was interrupted by the death of his father. JB then returned to help on the family farm. He especially loved cattle and the ranch on the Teton River, where he has requested that his ashes be spread.

JB was a talented welder. He worked on the Carter/Chouteau County water system for many years. He was an officer in the Lower Teton Water Users. He enjoyed bowling and darts and was a devoted follower of the Fort Benton football teams and his sons’ and grandsons’ sports. He loved the Pittsburgh Steelers!

JB is survived by his mother, Diane, and his brother, Bruce, both of Floweree; his brother-in-law, Steve Hamel of Canyon Creek; nephews Will and Michael Hamel; his ex-wife, Shannon of Fort Benton; three step-children, Misti (Coleman) Axtman, Mike (Ashley) Nault, and Andrew (Amanda) Moss; four step-grandchildren; his aunts, Kay (Dick) Luoma and Kathleen Wiley; cousins and numerous friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, Hal “Sonny” Walker; his sisters, Jane Marie Walker and Richie Lee Walker Hamel; and his grandparents Alma and Harold Walker, Mame and Verle Johnson.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Carter Volunteer Fire Department, 224 Mountain View Rd, Carter, MT, 59420.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.SchniderFuneralHome.com.


Evelyn Dolores “Pat” Johnston

Evelyn Dolores “Pat” Johnston, 87, of Fort Benton, passed away peacefully on September 22, 2015 at the Beehive Memory Care Facility in Great Falls. Graveside Services were held Saturday afternoon September 26 at the Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton.

Pat was born on August 13, 1928, in Fort Benton to William and Sadie Tope. Pat spent her childhood in the area, graduating from Fort Benton High School in 1946. She married Vern H. Johnston in 1948 in Great Falls and they were together until his untimely death in 2001. This loving union produced four wonderful children - daughters Judy and Cindy and sons James and Kirby.

Pat worked at Deaconess Hospital providing childcare when she wasn’t working as a farmhouse cook. She was a loving wife and a devoted mother and grandmother, who loved bowling, pinochle club, league darts, and even served as a rural county school clerk. She was a wonderful cook who loved gardening, flowers, fishing, camping, and boating. She enjoyed time spent socializing with her friends, and those special moments with her family.

Pat is survived by her daughters, Judy Weimer and Cindy Johnston; sons, James Johnston and Kirby Johnston; nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Vern Johnston; parents, Sadie Longmuir and William Pete Tope; brother, Bill Tope; sister, Amie Grande; nephews, Eric Johnston, Thor Johnston, and Tom Tope; and great niece, Tiffany Humble.

The family suggests memorials be sent to the Montana Alzheimer Association.


9-23-15 Issue:

Lisa Morger-Miller

Lisa Geryl Morger-Miller, beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt and friend, passed on to heaven, peacefully surrounded by the loving arms of her family, on September 18th, 2015 in Missoula, Montana. Although she lost the battle to ampullary cancer, she won the war of life and is now in the presence of Our Lord and Savior.

Lisa was born January 14, 1960, in Great Falls, Montana, the sixth child of Victoria (Axtman) and Wallace Morger. She was raised in Fort Benton and attended schools there, a proud member of the FBHS Class of 1978. She participated in plays, sports, cheerleading, speech and debate. She was honored as one of the class speakers at her high school graduation ceremony in 1978. Due to her eager willingness to help with the family’s fishing-worm business as a little girl, she was dubbed by her father as “Lisa Geryl Worm-Picker” or “Lisa GWP”, a nickname she proudly wore for the rest of her life. It was that spunkiness that defined her entire life: a woman not afraid to live on the edge of the frontier or comfort; a willing and generous helpmate to her husband, children, and extended family; and a girl with a bit of mischief, loving laughter and having fun.

Lisa attended the University of Montana and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1982. It was there in 1980 where she met her soulmate, the love of her life, John Jay Miller. They were married in Fort Benton on July 10, 1982.

John and Lisa began their teaching careers in Froid, Montana, from 1983 to 1985, where Lisa taught K-3. In 1985, they moved to the southeast Alaskan Tlingit/Haida village of Angoon, Alaska on Admiralty Island. She loved going out in the skiff to check her crab pots in the bay and having time to raise their baby Jordan. In 1987, the Millers moved to the central Alaskan Athabascan village of Nenana where two more babies, Gerald and Victoria, were born to them. In 1990, they moved to the Matanuska Valley, settling in Wasilla, Alaska for sixteen years. Lisa was a dedicated full-time mom of her three little ones until their youngest Victoria was in kindergarten. She returned to teaching in 1993 at Tanaina Elementary and then transferred to Iditarod Elementary in 1996 until 2003.

During this time, Lisa received her M.A. in Education Information Technology from Western Oregon University in 1999 and her Administrative Certification from National University in 2000. She received the prestigious Alaskan “British Petroleum Teacher of Excellence Award” in 2001 while teaching fourth grade at Iditarod Elementary. Lisa served as Principal of Goose Bay Elementary, the largest elementary school in Alaska, from 2003-2006.

Wanting to be closer to family, she and John moved back to Montana. She was Principal of Arlee Elementary for five years. Most recently, she and John moved into new positions with Poplar schools in 2013 before she had to retire due to her health in 2014.

Excellence was evident in everything that Lisa did - from raising her three children and making a home, to devotion to her husband and the way she embraced her profession. Her students and her teaching staffs have been inspired and changed by her love of teaching and learning and by her compassion for them.

In the school year of 2013-14, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and more surgery, followed by many months of chemotherapy, all the while teaching her fourth grade students in Poplar. Just when she thought that cancer was behind her, she was diagnosed in June 2014 with cancer of the Ampulla Vader, a new type. Despite the grueling schedule of faraway doctor appointments and more chemotherapy and surgeries, she remained positive and graceful even in the direst circumstances. With beauty and joy, she and John were able to see their daughter Victoria married to Justin Townsend this last May in Fort Benton. Her willingness to share her journey with great dignity has made a huge impact on her family, friends, and community.

Lisa is survived by: Her devoted husband of 33 years - John Jay Miller; her beloved children - Jordan Miller (Adrian Button) of Billings, Gerald Miller of San Francisco, California and Victoria Townsend (Justin Townsend) of San Francisco, California; her siblings -  Valerie Morger (Mark Pyrak) of Fort Benton, Randy Morger of Fort Benton, Venetta Morger (John Wood) of the Woodlands, Texas, Darcy Morger-Grovenstein (Glenn)of Prescott Valley, Arizona, Shane (Geri) Morger of Ventura, California, Brian Morger of Great Falls, Wallis Morger Bryan (Van) of Bozeman; brother-in-law, Gregory Bonilla of Helena; and step-mom Muncie Morger of Fort Benton, as well as more than two dozen nieces, nephews and great nieces/nephews. She was preceded in death by her mother, Victoria (Axtman) Morger; her father, Wallace Morger; and her sister, Audra Morger-Bonilla.

As per her wishes, Lisa will have memorial services at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 11 am. Her ashes will be buried at her mother’s grave at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton on July 10, 2016.

Memorials can be made to the following in Lisa’s name: The Victoria A. Morger/Audra Morger-Bonilla Scholarship (Fort Benton High School, Fort Benton, Montana) or The Lisa Morger-Miller P.E. Fund at Goose Bay Elementary (Wasilla, Alaska) to also honor P.E. Teacher Nancy Blake.

If Lisa were here right now she would say, “Ride your bike until you feel the wind in your hair, laugh until your sides hurt and even then get in some more, hold your kids tight and read them a book, teach the world something new, stick up for the underdog, make a good campfire and enjoy the night, root for the home team like the Montana Griz or the Fort Benton Longhorns, say ‘hi’ to your neighbor, don’t be afraid to be sentimental, smell the lilacs and the peonies! Embrace the beauty of life and love.”


Russell Lauren Watson

Russell Lauren Watson, a retired United States Air Force Master Sergeant, a 23 year Air Force veteran, went to be with his Lord Friday, September 18, 2015 after suffering a massive stroke.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at Schnider Funeral Home in Great Falls, and one hour prior to the funeral service which will be held Friday, September 25, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at Community Bible Church in Fort Benton. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Russ was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin on February 8, 1940 to Earl and Helen Watson. Russ was the youngest of four children and was raised in Ladysmith. He earned an Associates Degree at Ashland, Wisconsin. On April 3, 1961 he joined the Air Force and was stationed at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington. He married Jeanette Ruby on December 8, 1962. Their son Jeff was born in March, 1964. Russ was transferred to Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota in May 1965, then to Malmstrom AFB in August 1969. Jennifer was born the next month. Russ retired after serving 23 years in the Air Force and then retired from Civil Service working Rivet Mile maintaining Minuteman Missiles in February 2002.

After losing his wife to cancer, he married Irene Lehman in January 1991.

Russ loved fishing, especially for walleye, coyote hunting, and woodworking. He was a World War II history buff. He loved the Lord and served over the years as Elder, Sunday School teacher, song leader, and filling the pulpit for the pastor when needed. Russ loved his summer job of shuttling people, cars, and canoes for Adventure Bound Canoe in Fort Benton. He loved donating his time and energy by plowing snow and was quick to donate his time and expertise when helping others.

Russ was always game for a good road trip, and during his retirement years he and Irene traveled to 49 states, the last being their dream trip cruising the Hawaiian Islands.

Russ is survived by his wife, Irene; daughter Jennifer (Todd); son Jeff; stepdaughters Wendy (Rob) and Debbie (Ben); grandchildren, Jordyn, Tabitha (Robbie), Jenna, Jessica, Matt and Jasmine; three great grandchildren; and brother Howard (Louise).

He is preceded in death by his first wife, Jeanette; parents Earl and Helen Watson; brother Delos; and sister Delores.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.SchniderFuneralHome.com.


Pat Tope-Johnston

Pat Tope-Johnston, 87, of Fort Benton, Montana, departed this life on September 22, 2015. She is survived by her four children, James Johnston, Judy Weimer, Cindy Johnston, and Kirby Johnston. Graveside services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 26 at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton. A full obituary will follow in next week’s River Press.


9-16-15 Issue:

Betty J. Patterson

Betty J. Patterson, 89, of Lewistown, a former Denton resident, died early Tuesday morning, September 8, 2015, in a Lewistown assisted living facility of natural causes.

Betty was born on the family farm near Geraldine on August 6, 1926, to Fred & Clara (Mitzner) Rowland. She was the fifth of six children and was delivered by her Grandma Mitzner. Betty spent her time on the farm and working in a café in Geraldine both before and after school. She graduated from Geraldine High School in 1944.

Betty married the love of her life, Robert Patterson, August 11, 1946, after attending the Great Falls Fair with Bob’s twin, Bill, and his future wife. They left the fair and went to Fort Benton and knocked on the door of the Justice of the Peace. He happily married them - at 3 a.m. Bob spent his honeymoon in the Philippines, while Betty taught in a one room schoolhouse in the Graceville community. After Bob completed his military service, they settled on the Patterson Ranch near Montegue and proceeded to raise kids and cattle. Bob and Betty had five children in four years, which filled her days with caring for them, while also cooking for the ranch.

In 1963, Bob and Betty sold their holdings in the Patterson Ranch and purchased a ranch in the Denton community. Betty became the clerk for the school - a position she held for many years. Bob and Betty retired from ranching in 1974 and moved into Denton, where Betty was active in the Eastern Star and American Legion Auxiliary. She was always ready to lend a helping hand and worked many blood drives and placed flags on veterans’ graves in Geraldine for many holidays.

Betty’s love for her Lord, her family and her friends was felt by everyone who crossed her path. Many wonderful family memories were made on the Missouri River and camping with the Rowland family.

Betty is survived by her husband, Robert (Bob) of Lewistown; three sons, David of Churchill, Montana, Dale (Ann) of Campbell, California, and Michael of Missoula, Montana; daughter Gail (Al Cheetham) Johnstone of Fort Benton, Montana; brother John Rowland of Fort Benton, Montana; nine grandchildren - Paul and Emily Patterson, Jeremy (Kelly) Smith, Adriane (Jon) McOmber, Jesse (Ashley) Hankins, Travis Engstrom, Amy (Chris) Tornio, Kat (Chad) Beck and Molly (Phillip) Weary; 15 great grandchildren - Caed, Lassie, Drew, Bryan, Tyler, Kennedy, Ty, Bodie, Brooklyn, Derek, Tyler, Jillian, Aubrey, Emrey, Briston, Jordan, Isiah, and Julianna; one great grandson Samuel; and several nieces and nephews.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents; one son, Rick; three brothers, Ralph, Ted and Bob; and one sister, Helen.

Memorial services for Betty Jean Patterson were Tuesday, September 15, in the Denton Methodist Church. Cremation has taken place. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Friends are asked to make memorials to Hospice of Central Montana, Denton Methodist Church or the charity of their choice and they may be left at the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.


Barbara Jane Leinart

Barbara (Bobbie) Leinart slipped peacefully away in Billings on September 9th surrounded by her family.  Bobbie had been living at St. Johns Assisted Care center for the past three years. The care givers there say they will miss her smile and quick wit. She was 89.

Bobbie was born on January 22, 1926 in Helena, Montana. Her parents, TB and Eleanor Vanhorn moved to Fort Benton, Montana, soon after her birth. Her father, TB, ran the local General Mills grain elevator and later founded Power Motors in Fort Benton. Bobbie grew up in Fort Benton, graduating from high school in 1942. She went on to attend the University of Montana where she met her future husband, Robert Leinart. They were married in September of 1948.

Following graduation, Bob and Bobbie moved back to Fort Benton where Bob became partners with TB at Power Motors. They raised their family of four children in Fort Benton, with all four graduating from Fort Benton High School.

Bobbie was active in Girl Scouts, Rainbow, and Eastern Star. She enjoyed playing bridge and belonged to several bridge clubs over the years. When Signal Point golf course opened up, she started playing a game she had never played. She found she really liked it and became actively involved in the ladies’ golf association at the club.

The later years found Bobbie becoming a full-time caregiver for her husband. He described her as his angel. She was his best friend and he was the love of her life. Following Bob’s passing in 2003, Bobbie made several trips to visit her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She also took a couple of cruises. Bobbie moved to an assisted care facility in Billings in 2010 where she lived for two and a half years before moving into St. Johns in 2013.

Bobbie was preceded in death by her parents, TB and Eleanor, and her husband of 55 years, Robert. She is survived by her children Tom (Virginia) Leinart of Lolo, Deb (Marshal) Leinart of Franklin, Tennessee; Peggy (Steve) Murch of Laurel, and Bill (Marissa) Leinart of Phoenix, Arizona. She is also survived by ten grandchildren and eight (soon to be nine) great grandchildren. At her request, there will be no memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the First Christian Church of Fort Benton Youth Group.


Eunice Robo (Service notice)

There will be a celebration of life service for Eunice Robo on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at the First Christian Church in Fort Benton. Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m., and the celebration of life service will be at 11 a.m. There will be a lunch following the service.


9-9-15 Issue:

Craig Allen Graves

Craig Allen Graves, 69, of Highwood, passed away of cancer August 27, 2015 at his home.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 3 p.m. at Heritage Baptist Church, 900 52nd Street N in Great Falls. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Another service will be held sometime in 2016 in Neillsville, Wisconsin.

Craig was born in Neillsville, Wisconsin to Darwin and Shirley (Austin) Graves on July 14, 1946. He joined the Air Force in 1964 and served as an airplane mechanic. He did one tour in Vietnam, after which he was honorably discharged and lived and worked in and around the Neillsville area. He was also a long haul truck driver. In 1988 he met his soon to be best friend for life, Viv, and in June of 1989 they moved to Highwood. Craig and Viv were married April 21, 1990 at the Methodist Church in Highwood.

Craig loved hunting and fishing. His wife said he gave the best smiles when he was holding something dead in front of him. He taught his beagle Maggie to hunt pheasants. He really loved the outdoors. Craig had a bit of a gruff exterior, but he loved his family and friends very much.

He worked on several ranches through the years, with the latest one being H & H Cropping for over 18 years. He learned how to become a cowboy. From the hat, boots, walk and right down to being bucked off a horse a time or two. He was bit by a rattlesnake and Mercy Flighted to Great Falls, one foot was caught in a grain auger and he fell off a tractor, just to name a few. He once said, “This Montana is trying to get the best of me!” He was as tough as they come and a fighter, but cancer did finally get the best of him.

Craig is survived by his wife of 25 years, Viv; sons, Travis (Victoria) Graves of North Carolina, Tyler Millard of Highwood; daughters, Kayla (Mike) Germann of Eleva, Wisconsin, Tiffany (Jeff) Bacon of Great Falls, and Tara (Nick) Gallagher of Albuquerque, New Mexico; brother, Steve Graves; sister, Linda (Jack) Zellner; eight grandchildren, one uncle, two aunts, many nieces and nephews, and his beloved beagle Maggie May.

He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Darwin and Shirley Graves; a brother, Bradley Graves; a sister, Mary (Graves) Laufenberg; a son, Kurt Thomas Graves; grandparents, and many aunts and uncles.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6


9-2-15 Issue:

Eunice Robo

Eunice Robo, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to so many, went to be with her Lord and Savior on August 23, 2015.

Eunice was born October 26, 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland, to Wilbur and Alice Norris. Her family lived in several cities and towns in Maryland. In 1962 Eunice met her future husband Jerry Robo when he came to their house with her brother Steve on a weekend leave from the Army. They fell in love and were married on March 22, 1963.

After spending some time in California during Jerry’s military service, they moved back to Montana and made Fort Benton their home. Eunice worked at Fort Benton High School as a secretary for several years, until her first son, Jim, was born in 1967. Her second son, Jeff, was born in 1972.

Eunice taught youth group and Sunday school at the First Christian Church for 35 years. She loved teaching the young people in town. She loved it when she taught children of people that she had taught when they were young.

Eunice was a fantastic cook and baker. She loved sewing and making all types of crafts. Her flower gardens were envied by all who saw them. She took great pride in her flowers. Eunice loved shopping and going to yard sales. She could always find bargains. Eunice took great pride in decorating her home and helping others with ideas and advice on decorating. Eunice love cats all her life. She always said a home is not a home without cats.

Eunice had many friends. She was always ready with kind words, encouragement and helpful advice to anyone who needed it. She was loved by all who met and knew her. Eunice will be missed by all. She was such a loving and caring person.

Eunice was preceded in death by her father Wilbur, mother Alice, brother Steve, and daughter-in-law Stacey.

She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Jerry; sons Jim and Jeff, grandchildren Alyssa, RJ, and Casey, and her beloved black cats Mickey and Shadow.

No funeral service will be held at Eunice’s request.


Bertha (Bunny) [Gomoll] Albers

Bunny Albers was born March 3, 1936 in Glasgow, Montana to Edward and Doris (Calkin) Gomoll and passed away at her home in Bozeman, Montana on August 27 from renal failure.

Bunny married William Albers in 1951 and they had six children: James (Linda), Fort Benton; Carley Dube (Roy), Rosalia, Washington; Lauri Jewett (Matthew), Fairfield, Connecticut; Mark (Lorelei), Great Falls, Montana; Deana Lloyd (Ben), Bozeman; and Denis, Great Falls.

She married Robert Purdy in 1995. He passed away in 1999.

Bunny is survived by five grandchildren, Laurel Ponzoha, Lauren Jewett, Lane and Dalton Albers, Amber Albers; great-granddaughter, Kaycee Glass; brother, Larry Gomoll (Merrilee) of Great Falls; and numerous nieces and nephews. Bunny was preceded in death by her parents, sister, Karen Thompson, and brother, Gary Gomoll.

Her early life was spent at Fort Peck where her father worked on construction of the Fort Peck Dam. Later, the family moved to a ranch south of Fort Benton and she attended a one-room rural schoolhouse, where she and two of her siblings were the entire student population. The family then moved to Loma where she completed her elementary education before going to Fort Benton for junior high and high school.

After her marriage to Bill, they lived on the Albers homestead in Pleasant Valley. They also had a home in Fort Benton.

In 1980, Bunny moved to Great Falls, attending the College (University) of Great Falls and graduating with honors in Sociology and Political Science in 1984. She was active in Great Falls and made many lifelong friends through her involvement with the Great Falls Public Library Foundation, Neighborhood Housing, Women in Transition at the YWCA and Leadership Great Falls.

Bunny was also a member of KEEP (Kellogg Education Extension Program) and Montana Friendship Force. These activities enabled her to travel to South Korea, and she was fortunate to have been one of the early American visitors to the People’s Republic of China. She loved to travel and enjoyed her time in Europe and India.

She moved to Bozeman in 2014 and was living there at the time of her death.

Bunny was a gourmet cook, gardener and an extraordinary flower arranger. She was an inquisitive and avid reader and discovered her talent as an artist, painting for her enjoyment and the enjoyment of her friends. Bunny was an accomplished Reiki master, taught many classes and practiced the art for many years. She was an exceptional counselor and friend to a huge number of people who will mourn her passing.

A memorial service will be held in Great Falls at a later date. Remembrances can be sent to The National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org) in Bunny’s name.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.


Jim Cummings

James Robert “Jimbob” Cummings was tragically killed in an auto accident on August 9, 2015, near Kamiah, Idaho. He was 55 years old and a resident of Fort Benton, Montana.

Born March 5, 1960, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, Jim grew up in the Wenatchee, Washington area and graduated from Kennewick High School in Kennewick, Washington. He received his BA from Montana State University and his MA from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Jim had a career as a teacher, counselor, outfitter and river guide (Lewis and Clark Canoe Expeditions) and most recently as an oil and natural gas driller in the Baaken region of Montana and North Dakota. He will be remembered for his love of hunting and the outdoors, sports, music, travel and his ability to tell a great story and make others laugh.

He is preceded in death by his mother, Marolyn Cummings Fayerweather. He is survived by his father, Robert “Bob” (Jean) Cummings of Sequim, Wash., and his siblings Mike (Jean) Cummings of Leavenworth, Wash.; Tom (Emilie) Cummings of Wassenaar, the Netherlands; Dan (Beth) Cummings of Hinsdale, Illinois; Cindy Cummings of Dublin, Ireland; Susan (Kerry) Cummings James of Tacoma, Wash., and stepsisters Sandy (Dan) Bradford of Richland, Wash.; and Donna (Todd) Nichols, of Gig Harbor, Wash. Jim is also survived by his 12 nephews and nieces whom he loved to visit around the world and share his love of Montana and the Northwest outdoors.

A memorial service was held at the Agricultural Center in Fort Benton on Aug. 19. Jim will be buried at the family cemetery in Sun River, Montana.