Local Obituaries

 

4-16-14 Issue:

Donald Scott Love, Jr.

Donald Scott Love Jr., 74, returned to his Heavenly Father and eternal family on April 10, 2014 in Ogden, Utah. Don passed away peacefully with family surrounding him following heart surgery.

Don was born August 23, 1939, in Philadelphia, Penn., of goodly parents Donald and Harriett (Sowers) Love. He was the oldest of four boys. Don attended schools in Philadelphia. At the age of 11, his father passed away while they were delivering a milk route. Don at that time went to the Hershey School for fatherless boys in Hershey, Penn. Upon returning home, the family moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he graduated from Atlantic City High. He attended trade schools and college in Montana and California.

In 1957, Don joined the Air Force. After serving in North Africa, Don was assigned to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, where he met his beloved wife, Shirley Ann Lench. They were married in Oct. 1960, and their marriage was solemnized in the Los Angeles, Calif., temple in October 1983.

Don worked at the Anaconda Co. both in Great Falls and Butte as a journeyman electrician and was a proud member of the I.B.E.W. Local 233. Following closure of the Butte pit, Don worked for many commercial contractors both in Montana and Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1982, the family moved to California. While in California he worked on several projects including the Muppet Theater in Disneyland and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. He then was hired by McDonald Douglas, which was acquired by Boeing, for whom he continued to work until he retired in 2003 and returned home to Montana to live in Fort Benton.

Don was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He served in many different callings in the church, and found great joy in his service at the Los Angeles temple. He truly enjoyed working on his family history and was always encouraging others to learn of their family genealogy. Don loved his family and would do anything he could to help someone.

Don is survived by his wife Shirley and four children: Donald III (Meldee) of Centerville, Utah, Lisa Thompson (Clinton) of North Salt Lake, Utah, and Susan Guillen and Nancy Taylor (Jason), both of Paso Robles, Calif. Don is also survived by his brother Merel of Essex, Maryland, and Philip of Atlantic City, New Jersey, as well as nieces and nephews and numerous cousins. His father, mother and his brother David preceded him in death.

Don is blessed with 11 grandchildren: Jessica Jensen (Jason), Heather Anderson (Alan), Andrew Wendt (Carly), Zachary Wendt (Kelsey), Melissa Guillen, Alexandria Paris-Walker (Greg), Courtney Paris, Erika(Steven) Brown, Emily Taylor-Plale (Stephen), Brittani Taylor-Blackner (Bryce), and Nathan Taylor.

A special blessing of seven great-grandchildren are Jacob and Abby Jensen, Luke and Hazel Anderson, Anika and Brayden Brown, and Aria Guillen, with two more babies announced.

Services are to be held Friday, April 18, 2014, at the LDS Church in Fort Benton, Mont., at 11 a.m. Viewing will be one hour before the service. Interment at Highland Cemetery in Great Falls, Mont., will follow the services.


Mary Ann Downs Schipf

Mary Ann Schipf, 88, of Missoula, passed away on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at Peace Hospice in Great Falls. She had fought valiantly against ovarian cancer for more than one year and now rests peacefully with her Lord.

Mary Ann was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on July 18, 1925, to Bruce and Johanna Uithoven Downs. Mary Ann married Robert (Bob) George Schipf on August 19, 1952, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Together they moved all over the United States, including North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Iowa, California, Oklahoma and Illinois, before finally settling in Missoula in 1968. Mary Ann worked as a lab technician before marriage and in Missoula worked as a Welcome Wagon lady. She also volunteered at Saint Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula for more than 40 years. Mary Ann was involved in several clubs, including Friendship Force, Soroptimists, and Missoula International Friendship Program. As a member of Friendship Force, and also with family, Mary Ann traveled the world, visiting all continents except Antarctica. She also hosted many foreign visitors at her home.

Mary Ann was preceded in death by her husband Bob, sister Martha Stocking, and her parents.

Mary Ann is survived by her sons John (Annette) Schipf of Highwood and Jim (Annette Piccirillo) Schipf of Bozeman, and daughter Karen (Chris) Roholt of Riverside, Calif. Mary Ann was a proud grandma to Kirsten (Dane) Brady, David Schipf, Kathryn Schipf and Ruby Schipf. She is also survived by Donald and Patricia Schipf and family of Mahopac, New York, the Norton family of New Jersey, and her extended Swan family of Highwood, as well as friends worldwide.

As per Mary Ann’s wishes, there will be no public memorial service. Mary Ann and Bob’s ashes will be scattered at the Schipf-Swan Ranch in Highwood at a later date. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com.

The family suggests in lieu of flowers memorials may be sent to the Providence Montana Health Foundation in Missoula (http://montana.providence.org/donate/providence-montana-health-foundation/donate) also known as Saint Patrick’s Hospital, or Peace Hospice of Great Falls (https://www.benefis-payments-online.org/donate).


Clarence (Speed) Steinbacher

Clarence (Speed) Steinbacher, 91, passed away on Thursday, April 10, 2014. A service will be held at a later date. A full obituary will be in next week’s paper.


4-9-14 Issue:

Cr. John Margaris

Dr. John Margaris, of Great Falls, passed away in his sleep on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

A funeral service was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Great Falls Saturday morning, April 5. Burial followed the service at Highland Cemetery. Visitation was held at O’Connor Funeral Home Thursday, April 3, and Friday, April 4.

Dr. John was born in Great Falls on Oct. 16, 1924, to Louis and Lola Margaris, immigrants from Greece.

He graduated from Great Falls High School in 1942. During his first year of college, he was drafted into the United States Army and served in General Patton’s Third Army. After he was honorably discharged from the Army at the end of World War II, he went to work for the Montana Trading Post, working in various stores in Montana and Alaska. He was also an adventurer, travelling to Europe, the Middle East and India after the war.

With the encouragement of his friend, Carl Kimble, he decided to go to college at the College of Great Falls. He worked as a laboratory technician for Dr. McLaughlin and eventually decided to become a physician. He attended the University of Utah School of Medicine from 1953 to 1957, and then served an internship in Ogden, Utah, for one year, before entering into general private practice in Big Sandy, Montana, in 1958.

He married the love of his life, Rosemary Kalafat, on Oct. 24, 1959. They moved to Fort Benton in 1962, where he had a solo practice until moving back to Great Falls in August of 1969, where he proudly opened his new medical office in Riverview.

For the next 26 years, he and Rosemary faithfully cared for thousands of patients. He was a strong advocate for the freedom of private practice throughout his career, and was famous for his many speeches warning of the looming threat of government interference with the practice of medicine at the monthly medical staff meetings at Columbus and Montana Deaconess Hospitals, as many of the physicians who know him would attest. He was truly a voice of one crying in the wilderness. He served as president of the medical staff at Columbus Hospital from 1977 to 1978.

In September 1995, he closed his practice in Riverview and then worked part time at the Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton, and at the Native American Center Medical Clinic in Great Falls for several more years before retiring completely.

He was a man of principle and high moral standards and was never afraid to offer his opinion on the way things should be. In addition, he was very devout in his Christian faith and was always thankful that God had provided and cared for him throughout his life.

John is survived by his four sons, Dr. Melchisedek (Barbara), Emmanuel (Pam), Mark, and Christopher; brothers James (Dee) of Great Falls and Bill (Des) of Kalispell; grandsons Adam and Zach; granddaughters Helen and Christine; and multiple nieces and a nephew.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother; sister Ann Yarmey; wife Rosemary; and uncle George Christ.

Memorials are suggested to the Great Falls Rescue Mission.

Condolences may be left online at www.oconnorfuneralhome.com.


Robert Gasvoda

Funeral Services for Robert J. Gasvoda will be 2 p.m. Thursday, April 10, 2014, at the United Methodist Church of Big Sandy, with Pastor Ross Rettig presiding. Burial will follow at the Big Sandy Cemetery with full military honors.

Robert J. Gasvoda, 78, a lifetime south-east farmer and rancher, passed away early Saturday morning, April 5, 2014. Robert was born Dec. 23, 1935, to Matt and Elizabeth (Delp) Gasvoda in Fort Benton, Mont. He attended Lower Dog Creek School and attended Big Sandy High School, graduating in 1954. After graduating from high school, Bob served his country in the U.S. Army for two years.

On June 10, 1962, he married Georgia “Joan” Galbavy, and to this marriage was born a daughter, Bethli Joan, infant son baby Lester, and sons Peter and Bruce Gasvoda.

Bob (as so many knew him) is survived by his wife of over 51 years, and his two sons Peter and Bruce, who are continuing the tradition of the Gasvoda Farm of over 100 years. He is also survived by his three beautiful granddaughters, Faith, Hope and Ashlynn, who were the joy of his life.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter Bethli; his infant son baby Lester, brothers Donald and Tom, and his nephew Gerry.

Bob was a member of Farmers Union, a board member of Cenex Cooperative for many years, and a life member of the U.S. Veterans Association.

Bob will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and it will take our community time to get used to not seeing Bob and his faithful friend and companion “Hooch” buzzing down the road.

Memorial donations can be made in Bob’s name to the Big Sandy Library building fund, to the Big Sandy Medical Center, or to the donor’s choice.

Services are in the care of Holland & Bonine Funeral Home of Havre, and condolences can be left at www.hollandbonine.com.


Maxine Koller

Maxine O. Koller (Fyfe) of Fort Benton will be laid to rest with her late husband, George R. Koller, on April 12, 2014, in Fort Benton. Preceded in death by her two brothers, William (“Bill”) and Earl Fyfe and a great granddaughter, Taylor Rae Peterson, Maxine died the evening of Nov. 14, 2013, at her residence in Fort Benton after a long degenerative and debilitating illness.

Maxine was born in Sweet Grass, Montana, in 1926, and was married on June 5, 1952. In the late fifties, Maxine and George relocated for a few years to Blythe, Calif., and in the early sixties returned to Montana, living briefly in Geraldine before establishing what became their permanent home in Fort Benton.

Mrs. Koller was a member of the Catholic Church and participated as a member of the Altar Society. She retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1985, and had also worked as an office clerk at the Missouri River Medical Center.

She is survived by her three children, Dennis, Richard and Gina, nine grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

After a nine o’clock rosary service, funeral services will be held at the Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Benton at ten o’clock in the morning, Saturday, April 12, with a gravesite service to follow at Riverside Cemetery.

Memorial contributions to the Dedman Foundation or the Ambulance Fund, Fort Benton, are encouraged.

Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.


4-2-14 Issue:

Howard John Axtman

Howard John Axtman, 82, well-known John Deere equipment dealer, farm equipment appraiser, and longtime resident of Fort Benton, passed away at his home from natural causes on Monday, March 31, 2014, surrounded by his family.

Services for Howard will include a vigil and rosary Sunday, April 6, at 7 p.m. and a funeral mass on Monday, April 7, at 11 a.m., both at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 1223 16th St. in Fort Benton. Internment will follow the funeral at the Riverview Cemetery.

Howard was born on Friday, April 13, 1931 in Balta, North Dakota, to John M. and Barbara (Senger) Axtman. He was the fifth of seven children and grew up on the farm enduring the hard time of the Great Depression. He attended grade school in Balta, learning to speak English there. His father took a job working for the Great Northern Railroad in Great Falls, Montana, in 1939, where they lived for many years. Howard attended school in Great Falls, and as a freshman he attended St. Edwards Catholic Seminary near Seattle, Wash., for a little over a year before returning to Black Eagle. As a youth he worked delivering groceries for a local market and learned how to drive. He had a paper route with the Great Falls Tribune delivering a record 268 papers in the Black Eagle area every morning, and then sold the Leader evening paper in downtown Great Falls. Howard moved to Fort Benton, where he attended high school, graduating in 1949. During his time at FBHS, he met the first love of his life, Patricia St. Peter, who he married in late 1950 while in Seattle, Wash.

Howard joined the U.S. Navy and served during the Korean conflict from late 1950 through late 1953, being stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and Tokyo, Japan. He was honorably discharged as an Engineman 3rd Class in San Diego, Calif., and headed back to his new family in Fort Benton as well as his job with the John Deere implement dealership. He became the dealership manager in 1955 and acted in that position until 1986, when he left to move “up the hill” and started his own business, Axtman Farm Equipment.

His first wife Patty passed away in April of 1969, and he met the second love of his life, Delores Marie Cook from Big Sandy, and they were married on Dec. 13, 1969, until his passing on Monday.

Howard was community minded and believed in serving and supporting his town. He worked with and belonged to many organizations including: charter member of the Knights of Columbus Marion Council, Boy Scout troop leader and scoutmaster for 18 years, life member of Fort Benton Kiwanis Club, charter member of Fort Benton Jaycees, civil defense director from 1962 to 1967, Fort Benton city council eight years, mayor of Fort Benton four years, president of the Montana Hardware and Implement Dealers Association, chairman of the Montana League of Cities and Towns, charter member of the Chouteau County Tractor Pullers, chairman of the Chouteau County 4-H premium fund for 12 years, member of the Immaculate Conception Church Parish 67 years, and advisor to the Helena VoTech Center diesel tech department. He also helped and contributed to many civic projects over his lifetime in Fort Benton with his time and talent. He believed in our youth and gave many of them the opportunity to work and earn money and experience.

Many people will remember Howard for his hobby over the last 40 years - his garden and all it yielded. Howard and Delores loved to raise all the great vegetables they could during the summer, both in the Shonkin Mountains and in his “secret” garden near Fort Benton. They enjoyed giving this bounty away to family and friends. If you were ever on the list, you know. From potatoes to pickles, he enjoyed giving.

Howard is survived by his wife of 44 years, Delores, sons Roger (Deanna) and Russ of Fort Benton, Rodney of Raleigh, North Carolina, and daughter Ann Marie (Dan) Mills-Low of Huntley. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren: Thad, Coleman, Brittiany, Andelyn, Rodney, Emily, Sam, Kayle, Kelly, Kylan, Corbyn and Keyara; and nine great-grandchildren: Alyssa, Dane, Hayden, Morgan, Emilia, Nicole, Kaleb, Jordan and Dylan. Howard has remaining brothers, Ed (Delores) Axtman of Canyon Ferry, Montana, and George Axtman of Arizona.

He was preceded in his passing by his parents, wife Patty, infant son Michael, brother Harry, and sisters Victoria Morger, Delores Brown and Hildegard Axtman.

Howard was a man of his faith and had a strong belief in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord. He will be missed by his loving wife; our Dad, Granddad and great Grandpa, but know he is going before us marked with the true sign of faith.

The family wishes to thank the forever caring caregivers from Peace Hospice for all they did for Howard these last few months. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to any of the following: Peace Hospice, PO Box 804, Fort Benton MT 59442; Florence Dedman Animal Shelter Foundation, PO Box 1282, Fort Benton MT 59442; or a charity of the donor’s choice.


Edna Beth McSweeney

Edna Beth McSweeney, 81, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Fort Benton, Montana.

Edna was born on January 11, 1933, to parents Elmer and Clara Feigel in Malta, Montana. She graduated from Malta High School and went to Nursing School in Havre, Montana. She married Steve McSweeney in Fort Benton on Feb. 23, 1952, and he was fond of saying that he married her before she had time to think it over. Edna was a devoted nurse at the hospital in Fort Benton for 33 years, during which time she touched countless lives with the combination of her practicality and gentle bedside manner.

Edna was an excellent cook and baker, and her house was always open to friends and family. Many neighborhood children grew up eating her cookies and digging through her gardens. She rarely had a harsh word to say about anybody, but once in a while when riled she would get a fire in her eyes which reminded everyone that Edna was no pushover. She was fiercely loyal to her family and was a loving, compassionate, and supportive mother. Her friends and family often called her “Saint Edna” due to her gentle nature.

Edna was talented at creating crafts, which will continue to be treasured throughout the community. None of her children or grandchildren inherited this gift. She also volunteered extensively in the community and won the pie contest at Fort Benton Summer Celebration multiple times. The loss of her pies will be mourned at every McSweeney holiday. Later in life, she was referred to by the family as “9 Lives Edna” due to her ability to bounce back from multiple health scares, and it was just like her to pass unexpectedly in the early morning hours.

Edna is survived by her children: Donna Agnew (Stuart), Albuquerque; Deb Friesz (Gene), Fort Benton; Dennis McSweeney (Reva), Helena; Dean McSweeney (Joan), Seattle, and special niece Patty Dalke (Lonnie), Great Falls. She was predeceased by her husband, Steve, and her oldest daughter, Diann Bishop.

Edna is also survived by five grandchildren: Jesslyn Button, Adrian Miller (Jordan), Rachel Agnew, Sean McSweeney, and Connor McSweeney. She had six granddogs and two great granddogs who will miss her ability to sneak food to them under the table. A special thanks to Susie Hankins for her friendship and caring.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, April 5, at 11 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton, followed by a reception in the basement of the Catholic Church.

Donations may be made in Edna McSweeney’s name to Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Stanley Michael Tichenor

Stanley Michael “Mike” Tichenor, 53, passed away Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at his home in Surprise, Arizona, the results of vascular disease.

Mike was born May 1, 1960, in Circle, Montana, to Stanley Eugene and Esther C. (Berg) Tichenor. He attended several schools in Montana, graduating from Broadwater County High School in Townsend, Montana, in 1979. He attended DeVry University in Phoenix, graduating in 1981. He returned to Townsend and joined his parents at the Townsend Star, where he became an accomplished award-winning photographer. He published the Three Forks Herald and later moved to the Oregon coast, where he ran Mike’s Gift Shop.

Moving to the state of Washington, he met his wife, Susan Sperry. They were married in 1991. Their daughter Paige was born on May 18, 1992. While on Whidbey Island, the couple initiated and published the Inside Real Estate, a newspaper for real estate investors. He also managed a printing shop.

The family moved back to Montana in 1999 and Mike joined his parents at the River Press in Fort Benton. He purchased the River Press in 2000, and continued to publish it until 2007 when he sold the business. He continued to work for the current publisher until 2010. He spent a year in Helena and moved with his daughter to Arizona in 2011, where he brokered hot metal printing products of type, cases and other print memorabilia until his death.

Mike was preceded in death by his father, Stan, and his maternal and paternal grandparents.

He is survived by his daughter Paige of Arizona, his mother Esther, his sister Teresa (Richard) Sabala, and brothers Stephen and Timothy, all of Helena; and also numerous nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Cremation has taken place and a family memorial is being planned at a later date.


Jack Marshall

A memorial service for Jack Marshall will be held on Saturday, April 5, at the Big Sandy High School auditorium at 2 p.m. Jack passed away on March 11 after a short illness.


3-26-14 Issue:

Wallace Earl Morger

One of Montana’s and Fort Benton’s native sons has been called home. Wally Morger passed away on March 24, 2014, just one month short of his 91st birthday. Though born an only child, Wally leaves a vast legacy of family and friends.

Wallace Earl Morger was born at St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton on April 24, 1923, to Dagmar S. (Peterson) and Earl R. Morger. A fourth-generation Benton native, Wally came from pioneering stock: Charles and Billy and Maryann Rowe, and the Davis Brothers - Ed and William. His grandfather, Frank Morger, was an Upper Shonkin rancher and later mayor of Fort Benton. His grandmother, Ruby Davis Morger “commuted” from St. Louis by steamboat before settling here.

Wally attended Fort Benton schools, a proud graduate of the Class of 1941. He was a Longhorn through and through; his nickname “Stuffy” acquired from a football coach who referred to him as Short Stuff. Wally was in football, basketball, and track, played trumpet in the band and was in various drama productions. He then attended Montana State Normal School in Dillon with aspirations to be a high school history teacher and coach, but WWII diverted those dreams and that education. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and originally was assigned to an electrical engineering school, but as the Pacific Theatre heated up, Wally was sent to train with the Fifth Marine Division and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He saw both flag raisings on Iwo Jima.

After the war, he returned to Fort Benton to help run his father’s tavern, Morger’s Bar, and then acquired one himself - The Farmers’ Inn on Front Street. They were both destroyed in a fire on June 6, 1949. He married Victoria Axtman that same year. Wally and Vicky raised nine children. They were organic gardeners before it was popular, providing for their children with what they grew, gathered, or what Wally fished or hunted. Education was also very important to them as evidenced by all nine of their children attending college. Wally served on the local school board for eight years after his wife Vicky, who had been a school board trustee, passed away in 1980. He was proud to be named “Montana’s Father of the Year” in 1984 on Norma Ashby’s Montana Television Network show.

Wally did lots of jobs from surveying to highway work, town deputy marshal, water plant attendant, and school bus driver, among others. But he most enjoyed wheat farming in the Egly area and his work as a Star Route rural mail carrier for 41 years with the “short route” southeast of Fort Benton and the “long route” to the north.

In the later season of his life, he met Muncie Kacso in 1993. They fell in love, and she also shared his love of Fort Benton. Together they led the project to restore the rip-rap on the levy, volunteered at the information center, supported community concerts and all Longhorn sporting events. They were named Lifetime Longhorn Boosters.

But perhaps the most important role Wally played was that of WWII veteran. As a member of the VFW and American Legion, the Marine Corps League, and as a community speaker/parade Grand Marshal, he encouraged and reminded all of us that freedom isn’t free. Whether it was the “Toys for Tots” program, a new recruit, or a veteran coming home to Fort Benton, Wally passed that baton of patriotism, courage, and service to countless Montanans. That baton was taken up by his son Randy with a career in the U.S. Air Force, along with five grandsons who have all served their country in Afghanistan. He was honored by the Marine Corps League of Montana with its “Commandant’s Marine of the Year” award in 2012. If he were here, he would just love to hear people say with his passing “that old soldiers never die … they just fade away.”

Wally is survived by his wife Muncie, and children Valerie Morger (Mark Pyrak), Fort Benton; Randal Morger, Fort Benton; Venetta Morger (John Wood), The Woodlands, Texas; Darcy Morger-Grovenstein (Glenn), Prescott Valley, Ariz.; Shane Morger (Geri), Ventura, Calif.; Lisa Morger Miller (John Miller), Poplar; Brian Morger, Great Falls; and Wallis Morger Bryan (Van Bryan), Bozeman. He was predeceased by his first wife, Victoria, and his youngest daughter, Audra Morger Bonilla (Gregory), Helena.

His grandchildren include Erin Bley, Tessa McGree (Tom), Jenna Chenette (Justin), Emily Meester (Dave), Levi Morger, Capt. Dashiel Morger, Tenley Huste (Ken), 1LT Morgan Wood (currently serving in Afghanistan), Chief Warrant Officer Whitney Grovenstein, 1LT Emory Grovenstein (Ashley), Ezekiel Grovenstein, Lacy Grovenstein, Trey Morger, Taryn Morger, Jordan Miller (Adrian Button), Gerald Miller, Victoria Miller, North Bryan, Shayne Bryan, and Grayson Bonilla. Along with six great grandchildren, he was also very fond of Muncie’s children and grandchildren as well.

Viewing is Friday, Mar. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benton Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 29, at the United Methodist Church in Fort Benton, followed by graveside services at the local Riverside Cemetery. Friends and family are invited to a luncheon reception to be held at the Sunrise Bluffs in Fort Benton beginning at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday. Miser Mortuaries is handling the funeral arrangements and Rev. Ross Rettig will officiate at the services.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to any of the following:

Peace Hospice, PO Box 804, Fort Benton MT 59442, who gave Wally such wonderful and loving care in his final weeks,

The Victoria A. Morger - Audra Morger Bonilla Scholarship Fund, PO Box 385, Fort Benton 59442, which provides scholarship assistance to deserving FBHS graduates,

The River & Plains Society, PO Box 262, Fort Benton, dedicated to preserving and interpreting this area’s rich heritage, or

The Great Falls Marine Corps Reserve’s annual “Toys for Tots” campaign, 1120 Ave. C Northeast, Great Falls, 59404, which funds Christmas presents for needy children across Northcentral Montana.

“Papa Wally - every time we see the sun rising over Fort Benton’s old bridge, or casting its last rays on the “FB” on the hill, we will think of the legacy you have left us in this last best place - the Birthplace of Montana. Semper Fi!”


Pamela Jean Scheele

Pamela Jean (Coffman) Scheele, 58, of Loma, Montana, died peacefully on March 21.

You are invited to share memories and stories at our celebration of life service on Saturday, March 29, at 2 p.m. at the First Christian Church in Fort Benton. Cremation has taken place.

Pamela was born on Dec. 18, 1955, in Cody, Wyoming, to James and Jackie Coffman. She grew up and graduated in Chester, Montana. Pam married Raylen Scheele on Dec. 24, 1973. They celebrated their 40th anniversary in December. Pam enjoyed needlework and road trips to craft shows selling Ray’s handmade items.

She is survived by her husband Raylen, sons Eric Scheele of Great Falls and Aaron Scheele of Bismarck, North Dakota, her father James Coffman of Lewistown, brother Jim (Susan) Coffman of Joplin and sister Lori (Rod) Coulter of Brusett, Montana, and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Jackie Coffman.


3-19-14 Issue:

No obituaries this week.


3-12-14 Issue:

Joyce L. Nottingham

Joyce L. Nottingham, 92, went to be with her Heavenly Father on March 8, 2014, after passing away at Eagle Cliff Manor in Billings, where she had resided for the past two and a half years.

Joyce was born Feb. 16, 1922, in Gletworth, Saskatchewan, to Taylor and Marie Sykes. At the age of eight, the family moved to Sunburst, and in 1934 to Chester. In 1938 the family settled in Fort Benton.

She married Ed Nottingham in Fort Benton on June 2, 1943. They resided there until 1981, when they were transferred with the Case Company to Burley, Idaho. Upon Ed’s death in 1984, Joyce returned to Billings with her daughter for a year and then to Fort Benton. In the late 1990s she returned to Billings to be near her daughter and son-in-law, where she resided at West Park Village.

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, and three brothers.

She is survived by her daughters Raedene (Doug) Stovall of Billings; Trudel (Buzz) Wiedemann of Tualatin, Oregon; and son Kip (Connie) Nottingham of Richland, Wash.; sister Opal Enquist of Great Falls; and sister-in-laws Ruth Sykes of Fort Benton; and Mina Anderson of Coos Bay, Oregon.

She has five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

A family graveside service will be held this summer in Fort Benton.

Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.cfgbillings.com through “Our Families.”


Robert Melvin Ranes

Robert Melvin Ranes died Feb. 28, 2014, at the age of 88.

Mel was born to Frank and Mary Ranes in Dixon, Montana, on May 18, 1925. He grew up in the Big Sandy area and out in the Bear’s Paw Mountains.

Mel joined the Navy in 1945. After his discharge, he met and married Carolyne Green. Together they raised three children. Carolyne died from cancer.

He married Dana Nelson on May 18, 1991.

He was an operating engineer for 50+ years, building roads all over Montana.

Mel was preceded in death by his parents, three sisters, and five brothers.

Survivors include his wife of 23 years, sons Larry (Shirley) of Billings, Doug (Marji) of Arizona, and daughter Patti (Jeff) of Seattle; sisters Maggie of Columbia Falls, Barbara (Tony) of Billings, and brother Donald (Nancy) of Colorado; six grandchildren, one great grandson, and many nieces and nephews, and one special nephew, Richard (Debbie) of Great Falls.


3-5-14 Issue:

Jack E. Bateman

Jack E. Bateman, 94, of Fort Benton, passed away Sunday, February 23, 2014, of complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Visitation was held Friday, February 28, at O’Connor Funeral Home. A funeral service was held Saturday morning, March 1, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Benton. Visitation was at the church before the funeral service. Interment followed the funeral service at the Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton. O’Connor Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Jack was born February 10, 1920, in Great Falls to Jack and Mary Bateman and was raised on the family ranch in the Highwood Mountains. Jack graduated from high school in Fort Benton and worked many jobs to help support himself while attending school. After graduating he continued living and working in Fort Benton. He worked at the Farmer’s Grain Elevator where the famous dog “Shep” came for handouts from him.

He also rode for the Highwood Livestock Association and later became a board member. Jack also served on the District 8 school board for many years. He managed the Texaco Service Station in Fort Benton until he was drafted into military service in l942. While on his way, he was called back because his father became ill and he had to take over his folk’s cattle ranch at that time. He eventually bought the ranch from his mother after his father’s death.

Jack enjoyed many hobbies, including riding his Indian and Harley Davidson motorcycles, bowling, fishing, hunting and snowmobiling. He loved and enjoyed his grand and great-grandkids and was dearly loved by his family. Jack was always willing to help others and treat others like he would like to be treated.

Jack married Nadine Lippert on June 23, 1941, and they had two daughters, Frances and Linda.

Jack is survived by his wife of 72 years, Nadine of Fort Benton; daughter Frances Hunter and son-in-law Sie Schindler of Lewistown; granddaughters Lori (Ron) Degenhart of Bozeman, Jamie (Nate) Putnam of Bozeman, Shelley McCord of Lewistown; grandsons Shawn Hunter of Lewistown and Lane (Dakota) Meeks of Bozeman; great-grandchildren Taylor and Hope Degenhart, Ryen and Hailen Meeks, Payton and Jackson Putnam, Brook, Madison, and Bailey Rodgers, and Caden McCord; sister-in-law Kathleen Bateman; nephew Charles Bateman; sister-in-laws; and many nieces and nephews related by marriage.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Mary Bateman; daughter Linda Meeks; brother August “Soggy” Bateman; great-grandson Zachary Rodgers; and son-in-law Jim Hunter.

Memorials may be made to any charity of your choice.

Condolences may be sent to info@oconnorfuneralhome.com.


2-26-14 Issue:

Charles Edward Conn

Charles Edward Conn passed away in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. He passed and joined his two daughters, Billie and Lynda.

A service was held Friday afternoon, Feb. 21, at the First Christian Church in Fort Benton. Croxford Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

Charles was born Jan. 28, 1920, to Samuel and Edna Smith Conn in Sutton, Nebraska. He spent his early childhood in Nebraska on a farm. He later came to Montana with his parents and two older brothers, Ervin and Lester. Their homestead was located in the Goose Bill area of Chouteau County. They returned to Nebraska but couldn’t stay away from Montana, and returned to repurchase the homestead.

Charles entered the service on April 16, 1942. He was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 5th Tank Destroyer Group. During this time he was with the Special Forces, who had the guts to go into battle with very little protection and seek out, strike and destroy enemy tanks before they could do harm to other U.S. forces. The fatality rate was very high among tank destroyer soldiers. Charles served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He received the Good Conduct Medal, the Bronze Star, the European-African Middle Eastern Service Medals, and the American Service Medal. He landed in the U.S. on Oct. 18, 1945, and left the service 10 days later.

Charles met his bride Mary Ann Maki in Neihart, Montana, and they married on May 8, 1943. They had three daughters – Betty (1944), Billie (1947), and Lynda (1948). The joy for these girls were their horses and the enduring love of their parents.

Charles and his bride, Mary Ann, purchased the farm from his dad. After purchasing the homestead from his dad, he and his helpmate, Mary Ann, began their life of farming, raising wheat, barley, and three little girls and their horses. Charles and wife Mary Ann remained on the farm until they retired in 1989. Not mentally retired, Charles took up woodworking, with a shop the envy of all who saw it. Later he did auto restoration of a ’49 Ford, a ’67 VW Bug, and several others.

Once he was asked to play the drums at a birthday party, and after that gig, he was a requested drummer for the next 30 years. He drummed for the “Lamplighters” of Chester and the “Aces” of Great Falls, playing the Elks, Moose Lodge, and Eagles, and playing in several states and Canada. A gifted musician, he was able to play all instruments. Being left handed, he played his accordion upside down, which was a marvel to many.

Charles is survived by his loving wife and soul mate of 70+ years, Mary Ann, and daughter, Betty Joanne McIntosh. He was preceded in death by daughters Lynda, 59 (April 2007), and Billie, 60 (Dec. 2007); his brothers Ervin and Lester, and his parents, Samuel and Edna Smith Conn.

Charlie, as many called him, passed on his love of country, his flag, and music, plus his total honesty to his girls. He will be missed.


Mary S. Brown

After suffering a series of strokes over seven years, which left her debilitated, Mary S. Brown mercifully succumbed to her “Old friend, waiting to wrap me in a ‘Blanket of Peace’ wafting me into the Great Unknown.”

Born on a farm in Saffordville, Kansas, in 1916, she became determined to go to college at an early age and in 1942 she graduated from Kansas State. During that time she met her future husband, Paul Brown, but they decided not to marry until the war was over. Mary taught high school home economics during the war and married Paul upon his return from the Pacific in 1945. In 1956 the Brown family of four piled into their brand new 1956 fire-engine red Chevy and moved to Bozeman, where Paul worked as a soil scientist for the US Department of Agriculture. From that day forward the Bridgers became “her mountains.”

Mary worked as the county home demonstration agent, judging foods and sewing at the Winter Fair, and she was active in Methodist church activities. Each year, she and Paul cultivated a large vegetable garden (an ice rink by winter), she kept alive the art of canning, and in a 30 gallon steel drum buried near the back porch she stored carrots that stayed fresh and crisp through the winter and on into spring. The weekend after Thanksgiving, she and Paul hosted a “Christmas tree party” which saw seven families heading into the mountains to cut trees together, after which everyone gathered in the Brown’s basement for a chili supper.

In 1968 Mary began pursuing a master’s degree at MSU, graduating three years later with a perfect 4.0 GPA. After graduation she became the director of the Pilgrim Congregational Pre-School, a position she thoroughly enjoyed.

When Paul’s work took him to Fort Benton, she moved away from “her mountains” for seven years, returning in 1983. Paul died in 2001. Mary was active with tax preparation at the Senior Center until her first stroke. In lucid moments she would say, “I’m ready to go,” but her strong heart and warm countenance prevailed.

She is survived by her two sons, Douglas (Bellingham, Wash.) and Richard (Bozeman) and three grandsons: Spencer, Nicholas, and Julian. A memorial service will be held at the First Methodist Church in Bozeman in the spring.


Robert “Bob” Anderson

Robert “Bob” Marion Anderson, 86, of Fort Benton, died on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 at Benefis Hospital of natural causes.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Schnider Funeral Home.

Bob was born on June 20, 1927 in Fort Benton to Noel and Agnes Anderson. He was a graduate of Fort Benton High School. He went to college at MSU Bozeman and earned a degree in engineering. He entered the Army out of college and served as a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne Division.

He married Katherine Wickham on Feb. 21, 1950, in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Bob was a member of the rural school board, a 4-H leader, past state president of the Montana Conservation District, and a Montana State legislator in 1971, as well as a Mason, Scottish Rite member, and Shriner.

He liked all sports indoor and out. His greatest pleasure came from watching his children and grandchildren participate in sports.

Bob loved farming and ranching. He strove to keep up with the ever changing advances in both industries. Black Angus cattle were his passion.

He is survived by his wife Katherine “Kitty” of 64 years; his children Rick (Laurie) Anderson and Kerry (Bill) Conrad; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a sister Emogene; and brother Evon.

Bob was preceded in death by his mother, Agnes; father Noel Sr.; and brother Noel Jr.

Memorials are suggested to the charity of the donor’s choice.

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


2-19-14 Issue:

Shawn Schara Giles

Shawn Schara Giles, 36, of Fort Benton, passed away February 14, 2014 at Peace Hospice in Great Falls, with loved ones gathered around. She fought a lion-hearted and noble battle with cancer for six years. She was a devoted wife, mama-bear mother, sweet daughter, and steadfast friend. She was a good example to all her family of strength and endurance. She finished her life with grace and dignity, never once complaining of the trials that had been placed in her life.

Shawn was born March 18, 1977 in Missoula, Montana to Rulon and Cherlene Hill Schara. Her family included two older brothers and an older sister, and two years later a younger brother, who became her dearest friend and lovingly helped care for her during the last days of her life. She was a good-natured, delightful baby with big dimples and blonde curls and was cherished by all.

Shawn attended school in Stevensville, Kalispell and Columbia Falls and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 1995. She participated in many activities including dance team, drill team, band and music festivals. She had a life-long desire to be a nurse and so she attended Montana State University Northern School of Nursing and graduated as a Registered Nurse on May 7, 2004. She was the most loving and gentle person possible, fitting the medical community perfectly. She was dedicated to nursing and was sad when her career was cut short after a few short years because of her illness. Some of her dearest friends were nurses and medical workers she worked with.

Shawn married Alex Giles in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on August 21, 1998 in the L.D.S. Temple and they had a loving and devoted relationship for 15 years. He guided his family through her illness and difficult last days with great care, love and tenderness for all. The children who are part of this family are blessed with parents who love and respect each other and love each of them. They loved traveling together as a family and did so as often as possible even after Shawn was ill.

Surviving Shawn are her husband, Alex; three beautiful daughters, Jacey (17), Alexis (14), and Katelyn (12); and two delightful sons, Levi (9) and Dallin (7). Also surviving are her parents, Rulon and Cherlene Schara of Fort Benton; three brothers, Layne of Fort Benton, Joel of Hamilton, and Park (Shawna) of Bigfork; and one sister, Jill McElligott of Post Falls, Idaho. Shawn is also mourned by her in-laws, the Jerry Giles family of Fairfield, and between the families, 55 nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Shawn was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many positions. She loved children and served several years in the Primary organization and as the church organist. Most recently she served as Young Women’s President in the Fort Benton Branch and devoted much of her time, energy and resources to teaching the young women the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings of righteous living. They dearly loved her and she them.

Music was important in Shawn’s life. She was accomplished at piano, organ and flute. She thought it was important to have music in her children’s lives. She made sure they were trained with violin and piano lessons. She also taught piano lessons to others.

First and foremost a mother, Shawn’s children reaped all the benefits of her maternal and nurturing nature. They were her life focus. Knowing that she had to leave her children was hard for her to accept. Shawn loved Fort Benton and wanted to raise her children there. She felt a desire to always improve the community and was involved in many community and school events and efforts.

From the time she was a child, Shawn touched hearts and changed lives. She was beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside. Her compassion and kindness were felt by all who knew her. She made everyone feel important and valid and was the best listener. She always cared more about others than she did for herself and was a peacemaker by nature. Many, many people will remember her impact in their lives.

Services will be held in the Great Falls L.D.S. Church Stake Center, 1015 15th Avenue South at 10 a.m. Thursday, February 20, 2014, with viewing prior at 9 a.m. All are invited to attend. There will also be a viewing from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 19 at the same location. Following the service Thursday, the procession will move to the Riverside Cemetery in Fort Benton for a graveside service and interment at 1:30 p.m. Luncheon will be served at the Ag Center in Fort Benton at 3 p.m. Croxford Funeral Home is handling arrangements.


April Arlene Wishman

April Arlene Wishman, 66, of Geraldine, Montana, passed away on Saturday, February 15, 2014 in the presence of her caring family and community.

April was born in Jordan, Montana to Joseph and Daisy Dutton April 3, 1947. She graduated from Garfield County High School in 1965 and went on to study for one year at Biola University in La Marida, California, then for another year at Rocky Mountain College in Billings in 1967. April married Ray Wishman on September 1, 1968 in Sand Springs, Montana.

She was devoted to the Lord and to her family and was a beloved neighbor to everyone in the Geraldine community where she lived beginning in 1970. April endeared herself to God at an early age and was involved in the Methodist Church and the Hegewisch Baptist Church and conducted child evangelism for many years at Sunday school and after school for children in the community.

She enjoyed caring for family, friends and neighbors and became an Emergency Medical Technician and was active in the Hawarden Quick Response Unit and Geraldine Ambulance since 1991. April also provided end of life care for multiple family members and special needs care for her brother-in-law. April enjoyed reading, knitting, crocheting, tatting, quilting, gardening and spending time with family and friends at every opportunity. Without condition and without hesitation, April’s warm smile and enormous heart were shared with everyone she knew.

April is survived by her husband Ray Wishman; daughter & son-in-law Terri  and Ty McIntyre; son and daughter-in-law Allen & Rachel Wishman;  brothers Steven Dutton, Phillip Dutton and Leo Dutton, and sister Tina Wheatcroft; mother Daisy Dutton; grandchildren Ryely McIntyre, Paynton McIntyre, Morgan McIntyre, Isabella Troccoli and London Wishman; and many more very special family and friends.

Pallbearers will be Leo Dutton, Steven Dutton, David Rowland, Ty McIntyre, Eric Wheatcroft and Allen Wishman. Honorary Paul Bearer: Phillip Dutton.

Graveside funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25 at the Geraldine, Montana cemetery with Pastor David Iverson of the Community Bible Church in Sand Springs, Montana officiating. A celebration of life with food and beverages will immediately follow at the Geraldine Methodist Church.

Memorials may be given to the Peace Hospice of Montana.

The Ray Wishman family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Bryan E. Martin, the Great Falls Benefis Hospital doctors, nurses and staff, the caring staff at the Missouri River Manor, the Geraldine Methodist Church, and each and every friend and family member who have been so caring, helpful and supportive.


Chanler C. Biggs

Chanler Clarence - “Chan” - Biggs passed away early Sunday, Feb. 9, after a long illness. He was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1942, and spent most of his youth through high school in Deadwood, South Dakota. Chan served in the U.S. Navy before graduating from Oregon State University and joining the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He spent much of his career with the BLM working on the Missouri River and the Fort Benton and Lewis & Clark Visitors Centers.

Chan’s knowledge of the Missouri River Breaks’ flora, fauna, geology and history was encyclopedic. In 1984 he accompanied Jacques Cousteau and a film crew as they travelled the Missouri River between Fort Benton and Fort Peck dam filming a documentary about the Mississippi-Missouri system. He was also co-author of the 2001 book “Montana’s Wild and Scenic Upper Missouri River Guidebook,” and was featured in William Least Heat-Moon’s 1999 book “River Horse.” Chan cared passionately about the preservation of Montana’s natural and cultural heritage and public understanding of that heritage. He was an active member in the National Association of Interpreters and served as the group’s president in 1998. Chan took great joy in introducing his children and other family and friends to the Missouri River, and his children believe to this day that teaching them to maneuver a jet boat through rocky waters or a canoe through rapids was his way of preparing them for life’s challenges.

Chan’s family will also remember him fondly for his supporting role in the B movie “Ski Troop Attack,” a 1960 “classic” filmed in the Black Hills near Deadwood. Chan’s full bio on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) reads: “Chan Biggs is an actor, known for Ski Troop Attack (1960).” The curious and the doubters are invited to view the full length movie on YouTube. One of his other great loves was singing in a barbershop quartet, performing at events large and small. He was also an honorary member of the Great Falls Garden Club, designing award winning yearbooks for their events.

Chan is survived by his wife, Patricia, children Michelle “Shelby” Zenahlik and Daniel Biggs, and three grandchildren, as well as three siblings: sisters Barbara Biggs (Denver), Patrice Williamson (Spearfish, South Dakota) and brother Gary (Omaha). He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Frances Biggs, his brother Byron, and wife Kally.

Chan’s family held an open house in his honor Saturday afternoon, Feb. 15.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations in Chan’s honor be made to the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument (www.missouribreaks.org) and the River and Plains Society of Fort Benton. Contributions can be sent to the family or directly to these organizations. Condolences to the family may be shared at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com.


Robert Anderson

Robert “Bob” Marion Anderson, 86, of Fort Benton, died of natural causes Sunday, February 16, 2014 at Benefis Hospital.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Katherine “Kitty;” his children Rick (Laurie) Anderson and Kerry (Bill) Conrad; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a sister Emogene; and brother Evon.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. A full obituary will be published in next week’s edition of the River Press.


Charles E. Conn

Charles Edward Conn passed away in the early morning hours of Monday, February 17, 2014.

Charles was born January 28, 1920, to Samuel and Edna Smith Conn in Sutton, Nebraska. He later came to Montana with his parents and two older brothers, Ervin and Lester.

He is survived by his loving wife and soul mate of 70+ years, Mary Ann, and daughter, Betty Joanne McIntosh. He was preceded in death by two daughters Lynda and Billie, his brothers and his parents.

Services will be held Friday, February 21 at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church in Fort Benton. Croxford Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. A full obituary will be published in next week’s edition of the River Press.


2-12-14 Issue:

Gertrude Postill Wishaar

Gertrude Postill Weishaar passed away Feb. 8, 2014, at the age of 88 years at the Benefis Hospice in Great Falls, Mont..

Visitation will be at Schnider Funeral Home on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Her funeral service will take place at the United Church of Christ in Fairfield, Mont. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 11 a. m.

Gertrude was born on August 22, 1925 in Great Falls to immigrant parents, Caroline and Isaac Postill. Gertrude was the oldest of five children. Early childhood was spent on the family homestead in the Upper Shonkin Mountains and she attended schools in Geraldine and Fort Benton. After graduation from Fort Benton High School in 1944 her teaching career started in country schools at the Shaw School northwest of Carter and then the Upper Shonkin School in the Highwood Mountains. In 1951 she returned to college, graduating with honors in 1954 from Montana State College with a Bachelor of Science teaching degree. After teaching a year in Glasgow she moved to Fairfield, where she spent her last 36 years of teaching. Upon retirement she completed her 44 years of teaching having never missed a day of school and continued to tutor students for many years. She was always willing to help anyone anytime anywhere when they needed her assistance.

At Fairfield High School she sponsored the National Honor Society for 20 years and Mu Alpha Theta for 30 years. She was a class sponsor for 36 years and held or assisted with the local and state science fairs.

Honors she received include the Phi Kappa Phi Scholastic Honorary and two advanced scholarships at Montana State University. She also received the Phi Sigma Biological Society Award, the Mu Beta Beta-4-H honorary. During the 1979-80 school year she was chosen Fairfield school’s first “Outstanding Teacher of the Year,” in 1983 she received the “Montana’s Outstanding Math and Science Teacher of the Year” award, and in 1988 she was once again chosen “Montana Teacher of the Year.”

On June 7, 1959, Gertrude married Edwin Weishaar, and they remained together until his passing in 2001.

She was an active member of the Delta Kappa Gamma, the Fairfield Woman’s Club and the United Church of Christ in Fairfield. Some of her favorite activities were flower gardening, feeding the birds, stamp collecting and attending her Tuesday Woman’s group, where she liked to do embroidery work and scrapbooking.

Things most endearing to her through the years were her students she had taught, her dear and faithful Fairfield friends and Fairfield community, her three sisters and families and her childhood home in the Shonkin Mountains.

Gertrude is survived by her three sisters, Caroline Stewart, northwest of Fort Benton, Kathryn Woodburn of Geraldine, and Betty Anne Postill of Fort Benton; nephews and nieces Bob Woodburn, Jim (Lorrie) Woodburn, Donna Woodburn (Rob) Uhlrich, Resa Stewart (Wayne) Yamamoto, Lila Stewart (Garth) Good, and Glen (Kathy) Stewart; as well as several great nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Edwin Weishaar; parents Caroline and Isaac Postill; brother Isaac Postill, Jr.; and brothers-in-law, Charles Stewart and Warren Woodburn.

Memorials in Gertrude’s honor may be made to the United Church of Christ, P. O. Box 548, Fairfield, MT 59436 or a charity of your choice.

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


Donald Edward Craig

Donald Edward Craig, 87, of Great Falls, passed away on Feb. 4, 2014.

Visitation will be held from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at Schnider Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Ulm Bible Church in Ulm. A committal service will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Sun River Cemetery. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Donald “Don” was born on Dec. 17, 1926, in Great Falls to Ralph and Ruby Craig. Don took flying lessons and obtained his private pilot license. He spent many happy hours enjoying this adventure.

In 1946, Don met the love of his life, Jackie Miles from the Fairfield Bench, and they were married on Sept. 5, 1948. In 2008, Don and Jackie moved from their farm of 60 years to Great Falls.

Don was a selfless man who would give the shirt off his back if someone needed it. He loved helping people.

Don is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jackie; son Tom (Pam) Craig of Deer Park, Wash.; daughters Donna (Kerry) Upham of Loma, and Carolyn Olson of Great Falls; brothers Richard Craig and Jim (Helen) Craig, both of Bozeman; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.


2-5-14 Issue:

No obituaries this week


1-29-14 Issue:

Carley J. Robinson

Carley Robinson, a woman of extraordinary grace, beauty and kindness, passed away on Jan. 16, 2014. She succumbed to a long illness at the age of 83, surrounded by her family.

While most recently a resident of Arroyo Grande, California, Carly Robinson made a career alongside her husband of 53 years as an entrepreneur, business owner and real estate developer in Montana and Colorado.

Born Nov. 7, 1930, to Carl and Thelma Bramlette in Fort Benton, Montana, Carley graduated from Fort Benton High School. She went on to attend the University of Montana.

Recognizing her as the love of his life since childhood, Don C. “Robbie” Robinson and Carley wed and the couple made their home in Great Falls, Montana. Together they owned and operated several Great Falls businesses including Kids Stuff, Robbie’s Restaurant, The Beacon, and The Other Place. When Robbie worked to put radio station K99 on the air, “Miss Carley” worked to build caring relationships with the staff, never forgetting a birthday, never neglecting anyone in need.

After relocating to Colorado, Carley and Robbie built and operated a real estate development company with properties in Montana, Colorado and Arizona. Upon retirement they moved to the central coast of California, where they entertained family and friends.

Wherever the Robinsons made their home, Carley kept it alight. Carley Robinson cherished her many friends who were drawn by her thoughtfulness, generosity and humor. She was a woman of great faith who loved all those around her. Many will repay that love by holding her in their hearts forever.

Carley is survived by her husband, Robbie, daughters Colleen Robinson, Becca Robinson, and Renee Robinson Augustine, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

At her request no memorial service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Central Coast Hospice, 805-540-6020.


Kenneth J. Moura

Kenneth J. Moura, 70, of Missoula, passed away Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, at St. Patrick Hospital of natural causes.

He was born on March 7, 1943, in Jamaica Queens, N.Y., to Jose Joaquim and Evelyn Irene deMoura.

Ken joined the Air Force in 1961 and was a military police officer until he was honorably discharged in 1965.

He was stationed in the French Morocco, Africa, Kansas and, eventually, Malmstrom Air Force Base. During his time in Great Falls, he traveled to Fort Benton, where he met his wife and soul mate, Leona.

On Aug. 15, 1964, he married Leona Watson in Fort Benton. The couple lived there, then Seaford Long Island, N.Y., then moved back to Montana and had a son and daughter together in Great Falls, where they lived for several years. They eventually moved to and resided in Missoula for 33 years.

Ken spent many years managing and owning motels in Great Falls and Missoula, where he and his family never had a dull moment. He loved meeting people from all over and different walks of life. He always enjoyed visiting with people.

In later years, Ken enjoyed working at the Village Senior Residence at the night desk. Ken always made the residents feel safe and offered an ear to listen.

Ken loved to travel with his family. A high point in his life was taking his family to meet his relatives in Portugal.

A loving and attentive husband, father and grandfather, his family was his focus and pride.

He enjoyed baseball, travel, photography, collections, classic film and “old time” radio shows. His sense of humor kept his family smiling with him all the time.

Survivors include his wife, Leona of Missoula; son, Jason of Missoula; daughter, Anna (Mark) of Missoula; grandchildren, Iona, Joey and Octavia of Missoula; four brothers-in-law and their wives; 14 nieces and nephews; and a brother, Roberto “Bobby” Moura of Portugal.

As per his wishes, there will be no funeral at this time. The family will hold services at a later date.


Martha Louise Mousel

Martha Louise Mousel, age 55, of Rigby, Idaho, passed away on Jan. 19, 2014, at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, Montana, after a long, courageous battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Martha will be dearly missed by her family and many co-workers in the Forest Service.

Martha was always kindhearted and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. Her warm smile and her quick wit endeared her to all who knew her.

Born in Menomonie, Wisconsin, to Raymond and Therese Mousel, Martha attended school in Elmwood and Spring Valley and then Fort Benton, Montana, when her family moved to Montana after Raymond passed away.

Martha attended Montana State University and later graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in forestry.

Over the years, Martha worked in various locations in Montana, Idaho, and Washington with the Forest Service as a GIS expert.

Preceded in death by her father and mother, and her brother Martin, Martha is survived by her sisters Mary, Monica (David) Heetderks, Paula (Chris) Boroni, Rachel (Mark) Moberley, Rebecca Robinson; brothers Michael, David (Melissa), Richard (Maria Winslow), Andrew (Kristi), Eric (Sheila); and sister-in-law Carol (Martin).

Very dear to her heart were her many nieces and nephews: Jonathon (Kyna) Moberley and children Remy and Aston, Amanda (Kevin) Taggart, Matthew Moberley, Clifton and Tyler Robinson, Anne and Jean Heetderks, Nicholas and Thomas Mousel, Jessica and Anthony Mousel, and Mark, Seth, and Paul Mousel.

At Martha’s request, no services are planned.

In honor of Martha, spend time with a special child in your life or help out a neighbor in need.


1-22-14 Issue:

Ryan Russell Curtis

Ryan Russell Curtis was born on April 11, 1980, to Barry and Linda Curtis in Great Falls. He lived in Great Falls until 1989, when the family moved to Billings, where he lived the remainder of his life. He graduated from Skyview High School in 1998.

He died Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

Ryan enjoyed hunting, fishing, computers, singing, cooking spicy foods and playing with his nephew Cooper.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Russell and Betty Atchison; great-grandmothers Fern Loranz and Grace Godward; and aunt Deb LeLievre.

Survivors include his parents; his sister (whom he adored), Robyn (Jerry) Curtis-Rice; nephew Cooper; grandparents Fred and Betty Curtis; many aunts, uncles and cousins; and special friends Maja and Josh.

Cremation has taken place. Memorial services were held Saturday morning, Jan. 18, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary in Billings.

Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com.


Robert James McKenzie

Robert James MacKenzie, 75, passed away Jan. 13 at the Sherman Hospice House in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Bob” was born June 6, 1938, in Fort Benton, Montana, and moved to Phoenix in 1966, working for Honeywell for 33 years.

Surviving are son John Scott MacKenzie, Phoenix; daughter Holly Lynn MacKenzie, Dewey, Arizona; sisters Betty Gorder, Gilbert, Arizona, and Caroline Little, Kalispell, Montana; brother Thomas, Laguna Woods, California; two grandsons Shane and Lucas, granddaughter Heather Rae, and great grandson Rylond.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Sherman House, 5777 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85054.


1-15-14 Issue:

Barbara Ellen Schafer

Barbara Ellen Schafer, age 61, beloved mother and sister, passed away on Jan. 6, 2014, at her home in Wasilla, Alaska. She died of natural causes. A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Benton, Montana.

Barb was born and raised on a family farm north of Havre, Montana. She had a deep love for farm life and horseback riding. Barb graduated from Havre High School in 1971 and graduated from Northern Montana College with a degree in elementary education.

She taught first grade at Fort Shaw Elementary School after graduation, and the community embraced her and her gentle ways. She loved teaching and adored her “kids.” Barb touched and influenced so many people in that valley, and they in turn were always very supportive of her during her times of illness. These people were like her second family and they meant the world to her.

Barb moved from Fort Shaw to Fort Benton in 1994, where she lived until 2007. While in Fort Benton she was a member of the Immaculate Conception Church. She was an avid knitter and even taught some classes in knitting at the high school. Many family members and friends have been lucky recipients of some of her beautiful prize-winning handmade creations.

Barb moved to Wasilla, Alaska, in 2007 to be near her daughter and son-in-law, Krista and James Rangitsch and their son Chason. “Granny Barb” and Chason had a special connection and both cherished their time together.

Barb is survived by her daughter Krista (James) Rangitsch of Anchorage, Alaska, and their son Chason She is also survived by her siblings Kathy Bessette, Havre; Jim (Allyson) Schafer of Fort Collins, Colorado; Jean (LaMond) Duffin of Fort Smith, Arkansas; Joan Schafer of Fort Benton; Mimi (Tom) Heydon of Fort Benton; Pam (Ken) Nugent of Warrensburg, Missouri; and Pat (Brad) Nemitz of Ulm, Montana. She is also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Barb was preceded in death by her father, Alvin T. Schafer, and mother, Frances H. Schafer.


Arthur McLeish Jordan

Arthur McLeish Jordan, 86, passed away peacefully joining his Lord on Jan. 3, 2014, in Mesa, Arizona, at his home surrounded by his loving family.

He was born June 2, 1927, in Helena, Montana, to Idabel McLeish and Arthur Dillon Jordan. He was raised by his mother Idabel in Los Angeles, California. His grandparents, Arthur and Dorothy (Johnstone) McLeish of Fort Benton, Montana, were successful pioneers and civic leaders of their generation and a significant influence in Arthur’s life. He spent a significant part of his childhood and adolescent years with his grandparents on the family ranches in Chouteau County.

Arthur graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. degree in business and marketing. He was member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. While attending the University of Montana, he met Rosemary Josephine Rouleau, whom he married on June 30, 1951. Arthur’s career took him and Rosemary to Kansas City, Missouri, where they raised their family of four children, Arthur Jr., Colleen, Scott and Janice.

He had a long and successful career with Amoco Oil Corporation, retiring in 1986 in Overland Park, Kansas. Shortly after retirement, Art and Rosemary relocated to Mesa, Arizona, where he spent the last 27 years of his life.

Arthur’s legacy includes his gift of family, a strong work ethic, a respect for everyone, his valued heritage and genuine love of Montana. He is and will always be a U of M Grizzly. He led by example. He served his country in the U.S. Army. He was member of the Ashlar Mason Lodge No. 29, Billings, Montana.

His loves and passions included: family gatherings, his children and grandchildren, the family cats, weather, The Country Club Plaza (KC), Glacier National Park and the Arizona desert.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Rosemary of Missoula, Montana, and his mother Idabel. He is survived by his four children, Arthur Jr. (Barbara), Colleen, Scott (Sharon), Janice, and four grandchildren, Lori, Ian, Lisa, and Mariel, as well as many loving extended family members and friends.

Arthur McLeish Jordan will be forever missed greatly by his children and grandchildren.

Funeral services were held in Mesa, Arizona, on Jan. 11. Interment/burial services are scheduled for Fort Benton in late spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lewis & Clark Humane Society, 2112 E Custer Ave, PO Box 4455, Helena, MT 59604.


Shirley Ann Hansen

Shirley Ann Hansen, 65, of Billings, Montana, was called home Sunday, Jan. 12.

She was born July 23, 1948, in Great Falls, Montana, the second child of ten, to Edward and Janice Witt. She attended school in Geraldine, Montana, graduating in 1967. She received her CNA training at Valle Vista Manor in Lewistown, Montana, in 1979 and worked as a CNA for the next 33 years, giving the better part of her life to caring for those unable to care for themselves. Twenty-two years of this service was given at Eagle Cliff Manor in Billings, 12 of which were spent caring solely for Alzheimer’s patients. In 2004 she was awarded with Outstanding Leadership and Caring Contribution. She retired in the fall of 2012.

Always in high spirits, she was a patient mother, devoted daughter and a true and faithful friend to all who knew her. She loved to dance and was a longtime member of the “59”ers square dance club of Billings. She also belonged to the FOCUS Christian group for many years, as well as being a member of TOPs since 2001.

She is survived by her mother Janice Witt of Billings; daughter Heather Mah of West Glacier, son James Hansen of Salt Lake City, her three beloved grandchildren, Hunter Lohrenz, Ezri and Lucian Hansen; three brothers, Ken (Debbie) Witt of Billings, Joe (Monica) Witt of Houston, and David (Jeri Lynn) Witt of Lewistown; four sisters, Barbara (Wayne) Jones of Springfield, Missouri; Roseanne Witt, Patti Schmidt, and Debbie Witt, all of Billings; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her father, Ed Witt; two brothers, William and John Witt; daughter-in-law, Sarah; and niece, Jennifer.

The vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary in Billings. Funeral services will be held Friday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. in St Bernard’s Catholic Church, with interment of ashes to follow at Calvary Cemetery.

Remembrances may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com


1-8-14 Issue:

Gail Milton Stensland

On the evening of January 6, 2014, Gail (age 84) passed away peacefully at the Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton, Montana, surrounded by family. Gail was born on October 28, 1929, in Glasgow, Montana. He was the second child of Harold Stensland and Annette Stensland (Cotton).

Beginning in Gail’s early years on the family farm/ranch on the Milk River outside of Glasgow he developed an early interest in agriculture, an interest that he carried throughout his life. 4-H and Future Farmers of America were organizations he was involved in. Upon graduating from Glasgow High School he enrolled at Montana State College in Bozeman. He was soon active on campus in the Lambda Chi Fraternity and was elected freshman class president. He received a bachelor’s degree in vocational agriculture and later a master’s in education from MSU. Later in his life Gail was honored as the first recipient of the Montana State University Alumni Achievement Award.

Following up on his involvement in ROTC at MSU, he enrolled in the United States Air Force and served in Korea. He then embarked to Portugal as part of the International Farm Youth Exchange.

The most rewarding decision and commitment he made in his life was to marry Elinor Kathryn Tarum in Glasgow, Montana, whom he shared his life with for the next 58 years. Gail accepted a teaching position in Fort Benton in 1956, where he would teach Montana history and vocational agriculture for the next 17 years. During this time, as they raised their family, Gail and Ellie made many lifelong friends. Gail continued in education as superintendent in Inverness (1973-1976) and Culbertson (1976-1978). The Stensland family felt fortunate for the opportunity to return to Fort Benton, buying and operating Stensland’s IGA from 1978-1991. Upon retirement, Gail and Ellie valued the trips they were able to take with old friends and the time they spent with their children and families.

In addition to his family, a principle focus of Gail’s life was his involvement in the community. He volunteered his time and energy in the following positions and organizations: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Fort Benton Kiwanis Club, Fort Benton Community Improvement Association, Chouteau County Fair Secretary, Chouteau County Joint Airport Board, Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Fort Benton Jaycees, Sunrise Bluffs, Upper Missouri Wilderness Waterway Cruise Co. and the River and Plains Society – the Montana Agricultural Center and Museum.

Gail also valued his time as a “river rat” floating the Missouri River. Whether it was with the teacher group, family or guests, Gail loved the opportunity to retrace the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and share the history and experience with others.

Gail was outgoing, kindhearted, enjoyed life and always welcomed the opportunity to make a new friend. He worked hard, but took time to have fun with friends and family.

Gail was preceded in death by his father, Harold Stensland and his mother, Annette Stensland.

Gail is survived by his wife, Ellie Stensland, his sons Dean (Kim) of Missoula, David (Karen) of Bend, Oregon, and Loran (Julia) of Ulm, his daughter, Sherry Kosena (Ron) of Helena; his brother, Warren Stensland (Dorothy) of Pocatello, Idaho; his grandchildren, Desi, Jaren, Abby, Grace, Rachel, Lane, Logan, Kohlson, Karson, and Alison; his great-grandchildren, Liam and Ellie Jo; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The Stensland family would like to express their appreciation to the caring and dedicated employees of the Missouri River Medical Center who took such great care of Gail during his last years.

Viewing will be between 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, January 10, at the Episcopal Church. Saturday, Jan. 11, there will be a graveside service at 10:30 a.m., and a memorial service and reception will take place at the Fort Benton Agricultural Center at 12 noon.

Memorials can be made to the Fort Benton organization of your choice or the McLaughlin Research Institute for Alzheimer’s.


Linda Lee Harvey Campbell

Linda Lee Harvey Campbell, 54, of Livingston, Mont., passed away on Dec. 31, 2013, in New York City.

Linda was born on Nov. 1, 1959, in Great Falls, Mont. Her parents are CoraLee (Faller) and the late Robert L Harvey of Monarch, Mont. She was raised in Geraldine and attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1982. After graduation she moved to New York City, where she lived until returning to Montana in 2012.

Linda was a talented artist and began painting when she was 13 years of age. She was the first female carpenter of IATSE Local 52 NYC. She built sets for a variety of shows, including Sex and the City, the Sopranos, and Nurse Jackie.

She is survived by her husband Tom Campbell of Livingston, Mont., son Jack Gordon of New York, mother CoraLee Harvey of Monarch, sister Brenda (John) Siebrandt of Geraldine, brother Rob Harvey of Monarch, niece Leslie (Jeremiah) Moog of Anchorage, Alaska, nephew Dan (Danielle) Engellant of Geraldine, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws, and her beloved dog Otis.

She was preceded in death by her father Robert L Harvey and grandparents Earl and Lucille Faller and George and Helen Harvey.

Linda loved the great outdoors and was happy to return to Montana, where she spent time camping and rock hunting. She will be greatly missed by all her family and friends.

Services are pending at this time.


1-1-14 Issue:

John W. Mogstad

John W. Mogstad passed away quietly on Saturday, Dec. 28, in hospice care at the Bee Hive Home in Great Falls, Montana. He was 94 years old.

John was born on June 27, 1919, in the Graceville area on the family homestead north of Geraldine to Lars and Isabel Mogstad. He was one of six children. He graduated from Geraldine High School in 1938 and worked in the area until he entered the service. He was in the Army Air Corps in World War II, during which his travels included North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. After the war ended, he returned home to Geraldine to work and farm with his dad. He met Elizabeth (Dub) Sibra and they were married in 1946. They had two children, Sharon and Robert.

He spent all his life in Geraldine, where he was a lifelong member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Masonic Pilgrim Lodge 102. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite and Shrine. He was proud to be from Geraldine and had many stories about his life there. John was also proud to be a Norwegian and had a taste for the food. He loved his children and grandchildren and spent many an hour attending their activities. He especially liked track since he himself was a sprinter, with many a blue ribbon to prove it.

John was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, sister Opal Koch, and brothers Leeward Lars, Luke, and Don Mogstad.

John is survived by his children, Shary Fiske (Karl) and Bob Mogstad (Kate); five grandchildren, Karren Gantt, Ole Fiske (Wendy), Jonathon Mogstad (Michelle Scribner), Mathew Mogstad (Liz), and Jared Mogstad; and four great-grandchildren, Jordan Gantt, Soren Fiske, and Calvin and Zoey Mogstad. He also has numerous nieces and nephews and their families.

There will be no funeral services but there will be a private family memorial. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to Pilgrim Lodge 102, the Geraldine Historical Society or the church or charity of your choice.


Lindy James Halverson

Lindy James Halverson, 67, passed away Friday, Dec. 13, in Bozeman of natural causes. He was born Sept. 16, 1946, in Great Falls, Mont., to Allen Halverson and Neislena (Broesder) Halverson. He was raised his first ten years at Virgelle, Mont., then moved to the farm/ranch located nine miles southwest of Big Sandy, Mont., where he grew up and attended Big Sandy schools and graduated from Big Sandy High. He then attended Northern Montana College in Havre for two years. While going to school in Havre he was introduced to his future bride by mutual friends. Lindy J. Halverson and Terry K. Mumm were married June 11, 1967. They began their life together on the ranch and raised three beautiful daughters: Dawn, Shay and Regan.

Lindy wanted to live his life to the fullest and had many interests. Besides farming and ranching, he loved life and people and was always known for his stories/jokes. He fished, hunted, bowled, golfed, camped, snowmobiled, floated the Missouri, flew his own plane, and played pinochle and blackjack. He traveled when he could and he loved to follow all kinds of sports, including baseball, football, basketball and golf. His favorites the last few years were camping, golfing, cooking, following the Lady Cats basketball team, and of course, fantasy football.

Lindy sold the farm/ranch in 1986 and moved to Big Sandy, where he belonged to many organizations such as the school board and volunteer fire department, and participated in community plays. He also had several different jobs, such as delivering mail and delivering fertilizer for a local business, as well as working at the local grocery store.

Lindy and Terry moved to Bozeman in 1995 and he began his association with Bridger Creek Golf Course as a greens keeper/mechanic, where he took great pride in taking care of the course and was proud to tell whoever he talked to what a great place it was to golf. He retired in 2011, but still worked part time and was planning more camping and golfing trips.

Lindy is survived by his wife of 46 years, Terry; daughters, Dawn (Steve) Sendon, Shay Halverson, and Regan (Travis) Love; grandchildren, Taylor Wattam (Big Sky), Treva Price (Fort Benton), Alison Sendon (Missoula), Ashley Sendon (Belgrade), Tea’ Love (Belgrade) and Jayden Love (Belgrade); sister, Vicki (John) Hamilton (Miles City); and sister-in-law, Cathy (Allen) Halverson (Cut Bank). He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Allen Jr.

A celebration of Lindy’s life will be held on Saturday, Jan 4, 2014, at Lindley Center, 1102 East Curtiss, Bozeman, Mont., from 1 to 4 p.m. We will have food, drink, and Lindy stories and jokes. Please bring your stories, jokes and memories, and your laughs (his favorite).

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