Nyla Kay Velk Long
Nyla Kay Velk Long, 64, passed away in her home in Deer Lodge on Friday, September 8, 2017 after a second battle with cancer. She was a native of Havre, born on December 2, 1952 to Tom and Joyce Velk. Her family moved to Great Falls in 1968, where she completed high school. She earned her teaching degree from Northern Montana College in Havre and started teaching in Deer Lodge in 1977. She taught junior high English, the gifted and talented program, and was the school librarian during her career there. She also spent six years in Malta where she worked as a substitute teacher and special education paraprofessional.
Nyla was a support system, listening ear, and source of humor for all who knew her. She was a loving friend, mother, wife, daughter, and sister. She will be remembered and missed greatly. Nyla is survived by her husband of 35 years, Huey, daughters, Mandy and Jocee, grandson, Hudson, father, Tom, sisters, Vicki and Sue, and numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and aunts and uncles. She is preceded in death by her mother, Joyce Velk.
Please bring a story or memory to share at a celebration of Nyla’s life on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 11 a.m. at the Elks Lodge in Deer Lodge.
Julia Irene Rainville
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles
When life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering
Softly down the ways.
Of happy times and laughing times
And bright sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve,
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.
A storm raged on the outskirts of Mason City, Ill. on August 3. It lightninged, thundered, and rained buckets as Julia slipped away to become heaven’s newest angel. Lightning struck again as Julia left. It split the tree outside of the living room window in half. Julia hated that tree. It obstructed her view of the yard.
Julia Irene Rainville, 43, of Mason City, passed away at 2:28 p.m., Thursday, August 3, 2017 at her home. Born December 27, 1973 in Pekin to Wayne S. and Patricia A. (Bader) Hagen, she married Daniel Rainville on October 20, 1992 in Jacksonville, N.C. He survives.
Also surviving are one son, Nicholas Rainville of Mason City; one daughter, Taylor Rainville of Mason City; her parents of Pekin and one sister, Teresa A. (Terry) McMullen of Creve Coeur. Also surviving are her in-laws Joe and Carol Rainville, Michele Cook (Scott), three boys, and last her faithful companion Leo the basset.
Julia had worked at Export Packaging for 15 years, serving as Caterpillar, Inc. Customer Service Rep. for Brazil having to retire in 2007 due to health issues.
She was very artistic and loved to draw, paint and craft. She also loved a challenge, especially driving in high traffic areas.
If you knew her name you knew she would share to anyone, there was never a stranger. Julia also loved a good prank. On passing she left a list of chores for survivors. All were done except for two… Josh her friend refused to wear a grim reaper suit and randomly point to people, and we would not upon closing her casket sing “Pop Goes The Weasel.”
Julia was a member of Relevant Faith Church in Peoria, where she was a faithful servant of her Lord. Pastor Mike and Alicia Womer and all the church family are so proud to have had her in their family.
Her funeral was 3 p.m., Friday, August 11, 2017 at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes and Crematory in Pekin. Pastor Mike Womer officiated. Cremation was accorded following the funeral.
Julia, we will forever keep you in our hearts and love you forever.
“Well if you know me then you know I’m pretty much me and stand firm in what I want and believe. I’m strong willed at times, passionate when need be, most people say I’m black and white (with no room for color in my world), fun and crazy. I have some freakiness and if you really don’t know me then you’ll never understand me.
“I love people and I love knowing the whole person. I like to be there when happiness is around, when sadness knocks you down, when life lifts you up, and when dreams turn you around.
“This is life and I want to live it all. Life is short, live it like there is no tomorrow. Live life to the fullest but be honest with yourself. If you’re not honest with yourself, you can’t be honest to the world.
“Who wants another fake person in this crazy world anyway?” - Written by Julia
Nancy A. Warner
Nancy A. Warner went home to be with her Lord on August 24, 2017, where she was welcomed by her daughter Teresa and family members.
Nancy was born in Havre on April 15, 1950, the fifth of seven children, to Everette and Doris Leonard. Soon after, they moved to Butte where Nancy was raised.
Nancy attended Grant and Jefferson grade schools, graduating from Butte High in June 1969.
Nancy worked as a nurses’ aid in the medical and surgical wards in Boulder. She met the love of her life, Joseph Warner and they were married June 5, 1971, in Butte, then moved to Deer Lodge.
Three children were born of this marriage, Carl in 1972, Teresa in 1974 and Bernadette in 1976.
Nancy enjoyed cooking, camping, reading books and music. She was a member of the Deer Lodge Woman’s Club for over 20 years and a Girl Scout leader for five years.
Nancy is survived by her husband Joseph, son Carl and his wife Vassa and grandchild Nick of Beaverton Ore., her daughter Bernadette McClendon and her husband Hilton, and grandchildren Elizabeth, Isabel and Miracle of Deer Lodge, brother Larry Leonard (Moe) and his wife Helen of Billings, sisters Lois Rawson and her husband Frank of Butte.
Nancy was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Teresa, her parents, brothers Mike and Lester and sisters Linda and Marcia.
A vigil was held Sunday, August 27 at 7 p.m. at The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Deer Lodge. A funeral mass was celebrated at The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on August 28 at 11 a.m., with burial at Hillcrest Cemetery. A reception followed at St. Mary’s Center.
Roger James Williams
Roger James Williams, 73 passed away in Deer Lodge on August 10, 2017 after a courageous battle with cancer. Roger was born on July 16, 1944 in North Loup, Nebr. to Harold and Winnie Williams. Roger married Vickie Cummings in 1964 soon after daughter Laura was born and a year later, son Michael was born. Roger and Vickie later divorced. On June 25, 1969 Roger joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Knox Kentucky before joining the fight in Vietnam where he was a Sergeant and earned the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device and the Purple Heart. Roger was honorably discharged on June 24, 1975. On June 2, 1972 Roger married Gay Kilgore and became the father to her son Shane and together they had sons Jamie and Bryan. Roger is also the father to Julie Meagher. On March 3, 2002 Roger married Denise Severson and became the step-father to her son Dusty.
Work at the copper mines brought Roger to Montana after his discharge from the Army and in 1973 he found his home in Deer Lodge. Roger retired in 2010 after working for Louisiana Pacific then Sun Mountain Lumber for 35 years. His passions were his family, playing pool, racing cars and hunting.
Roger was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Winnie Williams, son Bryan Williams grandson Joey Theophile, and brother-in-law Merle Timmerman.
Roger leaves behind his wife Denise of Deer Lodge, sister Betty Timmerman of Grand Island, Nebr., daughters Laura (Carl) Pihl of Manchester N.H., Julie Meagher of Helena, sons Michael (Monica) Sedlacek of Sandia, Tex., Shane (Jodi) Kilgore and Jamie Williams of Deer Lodge. Sister-in-law Cheryl (John) Yount of Butte, step-son Dusty Severson of Clinton, Tenn., brother-in-law Steve (Cathy) Cole of Wartburg, Tenn., daughter-in-law Jody Williams, of Deer Lodge. Sixteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren with one on the way and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place and per Roger’s request there will be no service but a celebration of his life was held at Scotty’s Bar on August 14. The family would like to thank Highlands Hospice, Genesis Nursing Home, Jewell Funeral Home, Scotty’s Bar and everyone who knew Roger for their support and kindness.
Montana State Prison inmate Daniel Lamere died on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, following an extended illness. Mr. Lamere was 61 years old.
Mr. Lamere was sentenced out of Cascade County in February 2015 for the crime of Carrying a Concealed Weapon. Mr. Lamere was sentenced to 10 years with four years suspended. Mr. Lamere was not eligible for parole; his discharge date was March 2020.
Montana State Prison inmate Robert Bauer died on Friday, August 18, 2017 at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula following an extended illness. Mr. Bauer was 57 years old.
Mr. Bauer was sentenced out of Yellowstone County in 2016 for the crime of Mitigated Deliberate Homicide. Mr. Bauer was sentenced to 35 years. Mr. Bauer was also sentenced to an additional 10 years for the crime of Committed with Dangerous weapon. Mr. Bauer would have been parole eligible in 2027 and had a prison release date of 2060.
Gloria M. (Chapman) Funk
Gloria M. (Chapman) Funk, a long-time resident of Deer Lodge, passed away in the comfort of her home on Monday, August 7, 2017. Interment will be in the American Legion Veteran’s section at Hillcrest Cemetery, Deer Lodge. A family memorial will take place at a later date.
Gloria was born in Basin, Wyo. on April 13, 1924. Gloria loved her childhood in the Big Horn Basin. Her fondest memories were of summers spent in the Big Horn Mountains. The family traveled by wagon into the backcountry where the men worked and the children were free to be children. Gloria attended school in Basin, Wyo., where she graduated in 1942 as Valedictorian of her class. She was an active member of the Pep Club and school chorus, and was president of her senior class as well as an energetic cheerleader. She aspired to attend Stanford and become a journalist, but that changed when she fell in love with a handsome farm boy. Gloria married her sweetheart, Elmer Funk on January 28, 1944, in Billings. Five days later, she began to “keep the home fires burning” as Elmer left to serve as a Combat Infantryman in the European Theatre of WWII from 1944-1946. The “Greatest Generation” was not just made up of those who served but those who waited as well, and Gloria was proud to do her part by supporting Elmer. There were many letters of that support and love passed between them.
Gloria devoted her life to her family and home, happiest when puttering in her yard and running a clean & well-organized home. She took great pride in her husband, children, grandchildren, and her life in the Deer Lodge Valley. As her nest emptied, Gloria worked as a motel housekeeper, first for Roy and Betty Stead, then for Ron Scharf when the business changed ownership.
Gloria is survived by her son Terrance Funk and his wife Jean of Billings, daughter Gloria Jean Erickson and husband Scott of Soda Springs, Idaho, granddaughters Kristie, Jennifer, and Shannon, and six precious great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, her parents, George & Evalena Chapman, and three brothers and five sisters.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Frontier Home Health and Hospice, the Powell County Council on Aging, the Deer Lodge Medical Center, and the staff at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula for their dedicated care, compassion and assistance to Gloria. Her family would also like to thank Joe and Kim Lombardi, Jim and Roni Wangerin, Dodie Rennfield, Pam Bromley, and all her wonderful neighbors and friends for their loving kindness and support throughout the years.
Memorials, if desired, may be sent to Friends of Hospice, 1940 Dewey Blvd, Butte, MT 59701 or American Legion Post #10, 744 Conestoga Lane, Deer Lodge, MT 59722.
Mary Burdick Gilman
Mary Burdick Gilman of Deer Lodge died on August 1, 2017, at age 100. Mary was born on September 22, 1916, in Melrose, to Rena Flanigan and James Earl Burdick. By the time she lost her mother three years later, Mary was already showing she was strong, brave, and resilient, with a sense of adventure, wonder, and mischievousness.
When she was five, she took her three-year-old sister Velva over the mountain from Dewey to Wise River – five miles by foot – because she was mad at her grandmother and wanted to visit her aunt (they made it). By six, she and Velva were being raised in an orphanage in Helena. At 18, Mary hitchhiked alone from Montana to Arizona and back.
She married Francis Gilman on August 4, 1941, and they soon moved to Garrison. Mary started working at the 4B’s restaurant in Deer Lodge, where she was a favorite waitress for over 40 years. All five feet of her would break up fights with a broom, and more than a few teenagers were driven home over the years after nights out - with their parents none the wiser.
Mary always had time for her grandchildren – she attended sporting events and spelling bees, got into snowball fights (she gave as good as she got), and always had a roaring fire to warm up next to. Mary traveled with her sister Velva, and friends Gert and Melba to Hawaii, Florida, and Samoa; chaperoned high school seniors to Washington, DC at 85; delivered Meals on Wheels in Deer Lodge into her 90s; and stacked her own wood until she was 94.
Mary’s strength, resiliency, bravery, and sense of adventure and wonder survive in her daughter Joan Schymtzik, who cared for her the last several years, and granddaughter Paula and great-grandson Diego Schymtzik of Nampa, Idaho; granddaughter Misty Schymtzik of Portland, Ore.; daughter Gail and Marvin Renner, of Park City; son James and Bonnie Gilman, of Kalama, Wash.; nine grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; three nieces; and numerous grandnieces and grandnephews. She was preceded in death by her sisters Velva and Alice, husband Francis, daughter Paulyne, and son-in-law Bill.
The family would like to thank Maria Makinster and Treasure Valley Hospice for their support. Donations to Meals on Wheels are requested in lieu of flowers.
Glen Raymond Mullins
Glen Raymond Mullins was born in Butte on December 6, 1956, to Leota and Andy Mullins and he died suddenly on July 25. All but a couple years of his life had been spent in Deer Lodge. He was the youngest of four children: Bob, Bev, and Berniece were his siblings. He attended school in Deer Lodge and graduated from PCHS in 1975. He could do many things well, but being a mechanic came naturally and at a young age. When he graduated from junior high, his brother gave him a car that didn’t run, so Glen rebuilt the engine and had it running smoothly before he was even legally able to drive.
Glen played saxophone in the high school band, and that is where he and his future wife Kathy Neubauer began their courtship. He later sold his sax to pay for her engagement ring. They were married for 40 years.
In 1994, Glen and Kathy had the biggest and best surprise of their lives when their daughter Briana was conceived. Even though he went the entire pregnancy with a stunned look, when he got to hold his daughter for the first time, he couldn’t stop smiling.
Glen was an intrical part of Powell County Search and Rescue for many years, acting as president and then coordinator up until health issues forced him to quit.
With great anticipation each year, he went hunting with his Aunt Ava and Uncle Don Davis, and he loved that Briana joined them when she was still quite young. Fishing was something else he was always willing to do with anyone, but he especially loved it when Kathy was with him. More recently he found a lost love for creating wooden bowls on a lathe, and he was very talented at it.
Glen was preceded in death by his parents, brother Bob, brother-in-law Rich Hover, and nephew Corey Driessen. He leaves behind his wife Kathy, daughter Briana, sisters Beverly Hover (Ogden, Iowa) and Berniece (Russell) Johnson (Gofnell, Ark.); in-laws Mickey and Wayne Neubauer, Terry (Tom), Shannon (Bob), Brad, and Guy, all of the Deer Lodge area. He also leaves many loved aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and his constant companion Mazie.
Donations made to Powell County Search and Rescue would be greatly appreciated.
Cremation has taken place, and a celebration of his life will be held at the Elks on Main Street in Deer Lodge on August 3, Thursday, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Margaret Jean (Best) McCardey
Margaret Jean (Best) McCardey, 89, of Livingston, passed away on Sunday, July 16, 2017. A family burial service will be held at the Sunset Memorial Park in Butte-Silver Bow at a later date.
Margaret was born January 10, 1928 in the family home in the Deer Lodge Valley to Hedley and Melita Best. She attended the Quinlan country school for eight years and went on to attend the Powell County High School in Deer Lodge.
She met and married the man in her life, Jay McCardey, who worked for the railroad and they were married in Deer Lodge. Jay had two daughters, Carol and Betty. Margaret became the mom to the girls and moved to Livingston where she remained until her passing. She would return to the Deer Lodge Valley for the occasional visit to the family home or to babysit her brother’s step-children. We never quite knew who was watching who. She moved into Frontier Assisted Living when she could no longer live on her own in August of 2004.
She attended church at a Lutheran church which she enjoyed when she was able and liked going to the Senior Citizen Center. Margaret enjoyed going on trips in the Frontier van. The staff at Frontier were like family to her and took very good care of her.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and her brother Charles (Junior) Best, and her two daughters Betty Cobb, and Carol Hardesty.
She is survived by brother William “John” (Linda) Best, Deer Lodge, son-in-law Frank Hardesty Sr., who always looked out for her and made sure she was taken care of, for which we are eternally grateful, also two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to the Livingston Senior Citizen Center, Diabetes Association or the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.
Eva E. Bennett
Eva E. Bennett passed away peacefully at home on July 6, 2017.
She was born in Dodge, N. D. on December 8, 1931 to Raymond Friez and Magdalina Bleile.
Eva earned a diploma from St. Peter’s School in Anaconda then received her GED in 1983.
She worked most of her life as a cook and retired at age 62.
She married August L. Beierle with whom she had four children. She later married Gene Bennett and was with him until his passing.
Eva was an avid crocheter, loved to dance, was on a bowling team and enjoyed fishing. We enjoyed fun stories of her life and she filled our hearts with laughter.
She was preceded in death by her father Raymond Friez and her mother Magdalina Friez, her brothers George Friez and Martin Friez.
She is survived by her sister Katherine Hartman and brother Ben Friez, son Fred Beierle & his wife Carla, daughter Deborah Bozlee & her husband Raymond, son, Richard Beierle and his wife Cathy, and son William Beierle & his wife Donna.
Eva was a five-generation grandmother with seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
She will be missed dearly by all her family and friends.
There will be a graveside service at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. There will be a luncheon following at Holy Family Catholic Church.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service is entrusted with Eva’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com.
William “Bill” O’Keefe
William “Bill” O’Keefe, Jan 29, 1931 - Jun 29, 2017.
William Moran O’Keefe, 86, of Great Falls, passed away at home just before sunrise on June 29, 2017. Anyone who knew Bill, knew it was his habit to watch the sunrise outside his window every morning, as he loved that quiet “morning” time. A blessing, then, to part with this world in this manner.
Born to Remy and Frances O’Keefe on January 29, 1931 in Missoula, Bill spent his early childhood in Maxville where his love for all things Montana and all things Irish were fostered and deeply rooted.
After his father’s death in 1938, the family moved to Deer Lodge where Bill graduated in 1948. Bill then spent four years in the US Army serving in Germany. Upon his return from duty he met the love of his life, Sylvia Ann Ingraham, and they married August 13, 1953. Rare were the times spent apart and in his last months of battling lung cancer, Sylvia tended to him around the clock, with family and their loyal dog, Roadey, constantly by his side.
Early in his career he became a welder for Montana Power Company (MPC), moving his family first to Cut Bank and then to Butte before finally settling at Rainbow Dam downstream from Great Falls. Bill’s genius did not go unnoticed and soon his rise within the company was fostered by all those who encountered his analytical and inquiring mind. Before retiring January 29, 1996, he had become Superintendent of Hydro II, in charge of all MPC dams in Montana. He was known during his career of being a family man and an unselfish man of his time and knowledge. Bill had a deep interest in technology, which was a great asset to all, as was his passion for his work.
Bill and Sylvia enjoyed touring Ireland and visiting the O’Keefe homestead. They also enjoyed traveling on their Gold Wing across the western United States and Canada. Photography, Montana history, family history and Irish history kept him active and engaged all his life. These interests naturally led to his involvement for many years in the Sons and Daughters of the Montana Pioneers. He especially loved to participate in the Bell Ringing Ceremony to honor the Montana History Teacher of the Year at the Capital each November 8, the anniversary of Montana’s Statehood. Bill was most proud of his heritage by being a direct descendant of one of Montana’s first pioneers. Bill’s love for history came full circle when he became engaged in the development of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
Although Bill passed away from lung cancer, he spent more than five years with dementia and fibrosis of the lungs after having survived throat cancer.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Sylvia; their five children, Mike (Liz) of Butte, Pat of Great Falls, Sherry Faber of Billings, Mary (Rex) Streets of Billings, and Ray (Lourdes) of Vernon, Fla.; six grandchildren Jason (Renee), Justin, Kelsey and Conner O’Keefe, Will (Caitlyn) Faber and Beth (Trey) Gregg; great-grandsons Greyden and Kasen O’Keefe and his soon-to-be namesake, Liam Faber; sister, Barb (Jim) Beck Weis of Helena; and dozens of nieces and nephews, whose lives were carefully recorded on the family tree Bill kept in precise detail, the work and legacy of which has been enjoyed by many family members.
He was preceded in death by his father, Remy; his mother, Frances; siblings Emmett, Edward, Donald, Daniel, Robert John (Pat) O’Keefe, and Gloria Corcoran; and niece Shelley O’Keefe.
A memorial service was Thursday, July 6 at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Chapel, 1410 15th Street S. Burial of ashes followed with full military honors at Highland Cemetery. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
The family would like to thank the wonderful people at Great Falls Clinic Hospital, Grandview facility, and Peace Hospice for their excellent care and dedication.
In lieu of flowers, please consider Peace Hospice, Shriners Hospital for Children, Children’s Receiving Home of Great Falls or any charity of your choice for donations.
Hazel May (Ray) Thomas
Hazel May (Ray) Thomas passed on June 14, 2017, at her oldest son’s house in Ogden, Utah. Hazel had been in hospice care in Ogden since March.
Hazel was born February 23, 1929, to Louis and Maggie Ray. She attended grade school in Gage, and graduated from the Roundup high school in 1947. In 1969 she entered the University of Montana, graduating in 1972 with a BA degree. She returned to the U of M to receive a degree in Special Education in 1978. Hazel taught at public schools in Hall and Jackson, ending up in Lincoln where she taught for seven years, until her retirement.
She married in 1947 and later divorced. She is survived by three children, David Thomas, Jr. of Ogden, Utah, Carol White of Newcastle, Wyo., and Danny Griffith Thomas of Sutton, Alaska. She has four grandchildren, Tess, Billy, Luke and Katie, and five great-grandchildren, Will, Addison, Paisley, Cyrus and Alan.
Hazel is preceded in death by her parents, Louis and Maggie Ray, and her brothers and sisters, Cleo, Harry, Ethel, Daska, George, Buster and Tommy.
Hazel loved fishing, hunting, dancing, playing cards and casino bingo but most of all she loved the freedom of the open road, of traveling around the West in her RV.
A remembrance will be held for Hazel in September at the Roundup Cemetery.
Death Notice: Leonard J. Barnes
Leonard J. Barnes, 97, of Deer Lodge, died Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Deer Lodge Medical Center in Deer Lodge.
Graveside services will be held at Fort Harrison Veteran Cemetery on Friday, July 7, 2017 at 11 a.m. There will be a luncheon at The Servicemen’s Club following the service.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service is entrusted with Leonard’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com.
Montana State Prison inmate William Horn, age 57, died on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge following an extended illness.
Mr. Horn was sentenced out of Missoula County in 1986 for the crimes of Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, and Theft. Mr. Horn was sentenced to 100 years, with no possibility of Parole. In 2001, Mr. Horn was sentenced out of Toole County for the crime of Assault with a weapon while incarcerated at Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby. Mr. Horn received a sentence of eight years.
Patricia B. Geary
Were she here in person--and hearts from Helmville to Ireland wish with fervor she were---Patricia Eileen Bernadette Baker Geary, born March 17, 1920, would have this synopsis of her life read simply: “Thank You.” Expressing her thankfulness for the kindnesses done by many, many people drawn to her magnetic humor and unmatched hospitality became a driving motive for a woman who, at 97, drove 34 miles round trip to Lincoln to have her hair done. This just three weeks before she left this earthly plane on June 15, 2017. Cautioned once by her daughter that there might come a day the car keys would be relinquished, Pat quipped, “No. I’ll drive to the cemetery and you bring the car home.” To the young patrolman who pulled her over for speeding at 80 (yes, both age and speed) she admonished, “I hope your grandmother is proud of you!” Sometime after her 85th birthday, Pat would jokingly reference her time in Saint Thomas Church as “cramming for finals.” She didn’t say “death,” preferring “conclusion,” a more fitting word for something “to be continued.”
Pat met her husband John T. “Jack” Geary on stage in Butte during rehearsals for a co-ed theatrical production featuring students from Girls’ Central high school and boys from Christian Brothers’ high. Years later, on a romantic lane in Butte, Jack knelt to propose. The demure, red-headed love of his life immediately proclaimed, “Hell yes!” Henceforth they laughingly called that lane the “Hell Yes! Road.”
Accomplished musician, Pat would, on any given Saturday night in the Blackfoot Valley, pull pep and pluck from even the most pathetic piano in dance gigs with the Helmville Orchestra. Come Sunday, she was at the church organ where pomp and circumstance prevailed. Should, however, this notice of her passing also serve as curriculum vitae for a position as Organist in Heaven, full disclosure by members of Saint Thomas Parish requires we admit in recent years not just a little infusion of boogie woogie began to flavor her rendering of the musical liturgy. If you haven’t heard “Ave Maria” with a backbeat, you really haven’t heard “Ave Maria.”
Educator. Pat taught grade school. She taught piano. Catechism. She taught boys to remove their hats indoors and everyone to tie up their dangling prepositions. She taught the Hokey Pokey. She taught the schottish. In each of these, she put not only her left hand in, her right hand in, she put her whole heart in and shared it all around. She quite literally taught how to live, condensing her pedagogical philosophy to the oft-repeated declaration: “You can’t have too much fun.”
She is predeceased by her husband, Jack; son-in-law Cliff Holt; grandson, Eric Holt. She is survived by daughter Michelle Holt and husband Ted Hannah, daughter Nora Myett and husband Greg, granddaughter (cribbage and cruise partner) Heather Holt, grand-daughter-in-law Tammy Holt, three great-grandchildren--Jeremiah, Sierra and Bridger Holt-- many Baker and McDonnell kin and her dear dog, Taffy. Hers was such a big, welcoming personality, 14 nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren, the kind people of Helmville, Ovando, Lincoln, Deer Lodge and Butte also must be listed as saddened survivors.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But who raises the village? Patricia Eileen Bernadette Baker Geary raised us up to the dance floor. She raised us up at the mass recessional. She raised the standard for desserts. She raised more eyebrows than Groucho Marx. If you are among the kind, caring staff of Saint Patrick’s Hospital or Kalispell Regional Medical Center whom she invited to the Labor Day Rodeo, let it be known the offer still stands, though the one who extended it is probably busy trying to make Saint Peter laugh and remove his hat should he show her through the Pearly Gates (which a gentleman would do.) Tell the staff at the rodeo gate: “Pat invited me.”
A vigil was held at Saint Thomas Parish, Main Street Helmville on Friday, June 23 at 8 p.m. Mass of the Resurrection was said Saturday 24 at 11 with internment immediately after at the Helmville Cemetery. A luncheon was then served at the community hall.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Helmville Chapter of the Daughters of Isabella beneficent fund, the Patricia Baker Geary scholarship fund for eighth grade graduates of the school she loved, or a local animal shelter of your choice. She’s on the Hell Yes! Road to Heaven and in classic style she’ll raise some dust. Patrolmen, doff your hats and don’t dare ask “Where were you speeding to?”
“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks; and ever thanks...” Shakespeare
Fredrick Witt died peacefully surrounded by his loving family at the Deer Lodge Medical Center on June 20, 2017 in Deer Lodge at the age of 85.
Fred was born on June 21, 1932 in the family home, a little cabin at Lake Como in the Bitterroot Valley to Fredrick and Esther Witt. He married the love of his life Lucille Enebo on October 3, 1954. Fred proudly served for four years in the United States Navy. While in the Korean War, Fred was assigned to whale boats that were used to rescue pilots that had been shot down during combat. Fred and Lucille were blessed with three children, Carol and the twins Darrell and Duane. For two and a half years they all lived in Avery, Idaho where Fred worked as a Lineman for the Milwaukee Railroad. In 1960, Fred was transferred to Deer Lodge and became the Line Foreman for the Milwaukee Railroad. Fred and Lucille also owned and operated the Sears store in Deer Lodge for approximately seven years. Fred loved his family very much and enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and traveling around the state in their motorhome. He especially loved prospecting with Uncle Nels Rome. Fred was a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church and the Elks Lodge.
Fred is survived by his wife Lucille Ingrid Witt, Carol Abbott (Dennis), Darrell Witt (Tricia) and Duane Witt (Sandi) all of Deer Lodge. He has six grandchildren: Heidi Abbott, Wendi Larson (Lafe), Brian Witt (Katie), Taryn Witt, all of Deer Lodge and Jessica Kostoff (Lauren) and Brett Witt of Livingston. He also has six great-grandchildren: Dace McQueary, Corynn Abbott, Dakota and Clayton Larson, and Kyzer and Tyzen Kostoff. He is preceded in death by his parents and sisters.
There was a viewing at the Jewell Funeral Home in Deer Lodge on Monday, June 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 11 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Deer Lodge, with a reception that followed at the Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the St. John’s Lutheran Church, Deer Lodge Elks, or a charity of your choice. Fred will be missed by all.
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