Dale O. Mattila
Dale O. Mattila’s courageous battle with cancer ended on Sept. 19, 2015. The cancer didn’t beat him, it just outlasted him. Dale leaves behind a grieving family and many friends who will miss his infectious smile, resounding laugh, and gentle soul. His was a life well-lived.
Dale was born in Red Lodge on March 21, 1940 to Arvo and Bessie. Brother Donald, and sister Donna, would come later. He graduated from Red Lodge High School in 1958.
In May of 1960, he married Toni Radosevich. They would have four kids; Dale, Tana, Bambi, and Penni.
After stints in construction and mining, Dale would eventually bring the family to Deer Lodge where he had a long career with the Milwaukee Road Railroad. The young family also lived in Avery, Idaho and Lewistown for a time. After the railroad pulled out of Deer Lodge, Dale ended up moving to Billings where he was the maintenance man for an apartment complex for a number of years. Being a maintenance man was a natural fit; he was a jack of all trades and a master of many. If he couldn’t fix it, you might as well throw it away.
Dale was a simple man with simple joys and prides.
An avid outdoorsman, he loved fishing, hunting, floating, you name it. One of his absolute favorite things was the annual family huckleberry picking trip back to the Avery area every Labor Day weekend. His huckleberry scouting skills were legendary, regularly finding the mother lode when no one else could. He was also known to spend nearly the entire hunting season at the little hunting cabin on the Bignell ranch outside of Avon, only coming in to take the occasional belated shower. He was never happier than having a camp or cabin full of hungry people and putting out a feast for them. He was always the head camp cook and the coffee pot was always perking. Dale never met a mountain, lake, or river he didn’t like. He was still backpacking into the lakes of the Beartooths into his 60s. He was also up for a float down the Clark Fork or Big Hole anytime the chance came up.
Dale also loved the Denver Broncos, a cold beer, a good steak, and a friendly game of cribbage (especially when he beat Larry). He joined the Deer Lodge cribbage club in recent years and had a great time and made many new friends.
Dale took great pride in his Ford trucks, his camper, and his little blue house on College Street with the meticulous yard and the always-enviable tomato crop. He was the guy who would have his walks shoveled before the rest of the block was out of bed. His greatest pride though was in his family. He was immensely proud of all his children, and a tireless fan of his eight grandkids – Dale, Carter, Kolby, Sierra, Savanna, Abby, Kelsie, and Rilee - spending untold hours on the road and in hard bleacher seats around the state supporting them. They will miss him greatly.
Dale is survived by his children; Dale of Livingston, Tana (John) Bignell of Avon, Bambi of Deer Lodge, and Penni (Joe) Gray of Deer Lodge, as well as the eight grandkids.
Memorial services were on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 11 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Deer Lodge. A luncheon followed.
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