Howard Stevenson December 30, 1947 - August 2, 2023
Howard Stevenson, 75, passed peacefully at his home in Deer Lodge, on August 2, 2023. Howard had suffered with COPD the last few years. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sandi Gilman Stevenson; son, Howard of Deer Lodge; and granddaughter, Sheyanne Carpenter (Tristan) of Seeley Lake. Howard is also survived by his stepfather, Orville Fraser of Laurel; sisters, Betty Przybylski of Florida, Valerie Boelter (Tom) of Park City, Lavonne Frank (Pete) and Carol Osmondson (Dan) of Thief River Falls, Minn., Stacey Gable (Dan) of Laurel, Thelma Lofink of Laurel and Rachel Fraser of Billings; brother, Chad Fraser of Deer Lodge; sister-in-law, Ronnie Kitenberg of Deer Lodge; and brother-in-law, Les Gilman of Elko, Nevada; special nephew, Cody Fraser (Rachel) of Billings, and their two children, Taylor and Kane; and, not to forget, numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces. Howard was preceded in death by his father, Orville Stevenson; and mother, Florence Stevenson Fraser; brothers, Loren Stevenson and Hank Fraser; sisters, Tammy and Faith Fraser. Born on Dec. 30, 1947, Howard served in the United States Army in Vietnam and in the Army National Guard for 12 years. He drove truck for the Cominco Mine in Garrison until the close of its operation. He then worked for the Round Mountain Gold Corp. in Round Mountain, Nev., for 18 years. An avid NASCAR racing fan all his life, his interest was shared by his wife, Sandi. Howard also enjoyed membership in the Drummond American Legion, the Deer Lodge Racing Association and the Moose Lodge. A Graveside Service with Military Honors will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in the Veteran section of Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge. There will be another graveside service occurring at the entrance to the gate. Please go up the hill past this service. Howard’s graveside will be to your left. In lieu flowers, please visit www.axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Howard. His family would like to thank Enhabit Hospice and Eden Home Health for their invaluable help in Howard’s last month of care.
Bruce Bartlett Benson April 14, 1931 - September 11, 2023
Bruce Bartlett Benson, 92, of Avon passed away on Sept. 11. Bruce was born April 14, 1931, in Deer Lodge, to his parents, John and Esther, and was the fourth child, joining siblings: Betty, Cliff, Fred and later, Eva. Bruce attended grade school in Avon and later graduated from Powell County High School in 1949. After graduation, Bruce continued to work on the family’s dairy ranch up until he was drafted to serve his country. He served from Sept. 20, 1951 to June 20, 1953, with 13 of those months being served in Korea as Headquarters Commanding Officer 58th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. After Bruce returned home from Korea, he and his brother, Fred, went into partnership and became third generation owners of the Benson Ranch with their father’s dairy business. They later sold the herd in 1963 and transitioned into stock cattle, which is still in operation today and has been very successful. On Sept. 20, 1958, Bruce and Pauline (Bignell) were married in Helmville. They were blessed with two daughters, Evelyn and Valerie. Bruce and Pauline were married for 63 years before her passing on Sept. 29, 2021. In July of 2017, the Benson Ranch was inducted into the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame. Draft horses were used on the Benson Ranch for more than a century, and it was one of the last ranches that utilized the teams up until the mid 1990s. It was a spectacle to watch as it took great skill that was mastered and that had been passed down from generations. The draft horse teams would pull mowers, rake the hay with dump rakes, and bunch and move the hay to the stack with buckrakes. The team would then be pulled off from the beaverslide, hoisting the baskets with loose hay that would be dumped onto the stack. Bruce was an active member in his community, serving on the school board for Avon Grade School and Powell County High School. Bruce also spearheaded the Avon Stockyard Association where he was elected president in 1982, serving up until his passing. Bruce and Pauline were never a stranger to anyone; they were always welcoming and always had a pot of coffee ready to go along with a conversation. Bruce is preceded in death by his wife, Pauline; daughter, Valerie; brothers, Cliff and Fred; and sister, Betty. He is survived by his sister, Eva; daughter, Evelyn; granddaughters, Sarah, Beth (Noah), Leigh (Kevin); and numerous nieces, nephews and other family members. Viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. with funeral services to begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, at the Avon Community Church followed by a graveside burial at the Avon Cemetery with Military Honors. A reception will follow at the Avon Community Clubhouse. Memorials can be made to the Avon Cemetery. Bruce’s family would also like to give a special thanks to Southwest Montana Veteran’s Home in Butte and Cooney Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Helena for their care for Bruce. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Bruce.
Donald Edward Bacon September 22, 1941 - September 5, 2023
Donald Edward Bacon, 81, of Elliston, died Sept. 5 on the Elliston hill surrounded by family and friends. He fought a courageous two-year battle with esophageal cancer. Don was born in Lewistown on Sept. 22, 1941, to Lynn and Ruth Bacon of Harlowton and was the oldest of 9 children. Spending his youth in the Deer Lodge area, he fostered a life-long love for all things agricultural and livestock. While working on neighboring ranches, a strong work ethic was developed alongside the “Cowboy Way.” Additionally, he became very fond of shepherding and was an active member of the Deer Lodge 4H/FFA programs. Don graduated from Powell County High School in 1960. In March of 1961, he married his pretty little gal from Elliston, Charla Ann Pierce, who would be by his side for the next 62 years. They were blessed with three wonderful children, Kevin, Kellie and Kyle. For the first few years, he worked in construction and as an over-the-road truck driver. The family moved several times within Mont., S.D. and Wash. In the mid-sixties, a job with the Milwaukee Railroad brought the Bacon family to Wisconsin. As a purchasing and parts coordinator and subsequent promotion to material manager, Don perfected his meticulous organizational skills. Roots were established in Milton, Wis., for the next 2 plus years, where his desire to be a farmer and shepherd never left him. In the mid 1970s, he established “Big Sky Suffolks” which quickly became a family obsession and business. Through Don’s leadership, they became a premier flock across the state, as well as nationally. Don proudly served as the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Association President and Board Member for many years. A return to Big Sky country became a reality in 1989 as Don, Char and Kyle moved to their little slice of Montana heaven, Elliston; where they permanently settled. Soon thereafter, Don started a 13-year career with the Helena Nabisco distribution center; many days were spent seeing glorious mountain views behind the windshield of his route truck. Retirement in 2003 did not slow Don down. He was either fixing, maintaining, organizing anything and everything around the home or working for Pierce & Associate Builders.
One of Don’s greatest joys was making his weekly trip to the Koon cabin in Avon with his best friends. He loved nature and the outdoors, especially his annual sabbatical to the high country for hunting season. He also enjoyed many lengthy snowmobile and ATV rides, catching a rodeo any and every chance he could, playing a good game of cards or berating his beloved Green Bay Packers, all while sharing a tasty Jim Beam to wash down the love, laughter and memories. Don was also recently recognized as a 50-year “Master Mason” from the Ottawa #51 Masonic Lodge in Marysville.
Even as he endured his recent health fight, he never tried to bring attention to his plight. He frequently offered help to those around him and often brought comfort to others with that Don Bacon smile and attitude. He was blessed with a rich life that had very little to do with money; there was a family that loved him, memories abound and hundreds of good friends … he will be missed by many.
Don is survived by his wife Charla and three children: Kevin (Jackie) of Elliston, Kellie (Paul) Langer of Helena and Kyle (Jeanee) of Mesa, Ariz.; grandchildren: Emily, Craig, Charlie and Will, Josh, Jason and Paul Jr, Lucy and Remy; great-grandchildren: Jolee, Davis, Zoe, Eddie, Henry, Landen, Abigail, Samuel and Miles. Also surviving siblings, Dennis, Karen, Dwight (Sandra), Kathy, Kim, Dean, David (Gail) and Kristie; brothers in-law: Fred (Carol) and Bill (Nancy) Pierce; aunts: Marilyn Robinson and Amy Ballentine; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Don was a terrific friend, wonderful father, great husband and a good shepherd of life. It’s now time for Don to be with his Mom and Dad, and other friends and family who’ve passed before.
A small mountain service will take place later this month and a broader service for family and friends will take place Memorial Day weekend (May 2024) at the Elliston Cemetery (details TBD). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either St. Peters Health Hospice, Elliston Cemetery or an organization of your choice. Condolences can be sent to PO Box 210, Elliston, MT 59728.
were spent seeing glorious mountain views behind the windshield of his route truck. Retirement in 2003 did not slow Don down. He was either fixing, maintaining, organizing anything and everything around the home or working for Pierce & Associate Builders. One of Don’s greatest joys was making his weekly trip to the Koon cabin in Avon with his best friends. He loved nature and the outdoors, especially his annual sabbatical to the high country for hunting season. He also enjoyed many lengthy snowmobile and ATV rides, catching a rodeo any and every chance he could, playing a good game of cards or berating his beloved Green Bay Packers, all while sharing a tasty Jim Beam to wash down the love, laughter and memories. Don was also recently recognized as a 50-year “Master Mason” from the Ottawa #51 Masonic Lodge in Marysville. Even as he endured his recent health fight, he never tried to bring attention to his plight. He frequently offered help to those around him and often brought comfort to others with that Don Bacon smile and attitude. He was blessed with a rich life that had very little to do with money; there was a family that loved him, memories abound and hundreds of good friends … he will be missed by many. Don is survived by his wife Charla and three children: Kevin (Jackie) of Elliston, Kellie (Paul) Langer of Helena and Kyle (Jeanee) of Mesa, Ariz.; grandchildren: Emily, Craig, Charlie and Will, Josh, Jason and Paul Jr, Lucy and Remy; great-grandchildren: Jolee, Davis, Zoe, Eddie, Henry, Landen, Abigail, Samuel and Miles. Also surviving siblings, Dennis, Karen, Dwight (Sandra), Kathy, Kim, Dean, David (Gail) and Kristie; brothers in-law: Fred (Carol) and Bill (Nancy) Pierce; aunts: Marilyn Robinson and Amy Ballentine; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Don was a terrific friend, wonderful father, great husband and a good shepherd of life. It’s now time for Don to be with his Mom and Dad, and other friends and family who’ve passed before. A small mountain service will take place later this month and a broader service for family and friends will take place Memorial Day weekend (May 2024) at the Elliston Cemetery (details TBD). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either St. Peters Health Hospice, Elliston Cemetery or an organization of your choice. Condolences can be sent to PO Box 210, Elliston, MT 59728.
Sylvia Marie Gleason February 14, 1949 - September 9, 2023
Sylvia Marie Gleason, 74, was born to Patrick and Sylvia (Billie) Gleason on Feb. 14, 1949. She was followed by her brother, Daniel, and sister, Linda. She was born in Butte and raised primarily in Deer Lodge (on the Gleason Ranch, as she liked to call it.) Sylvia received her education in Deer Lodge and graduated in 1967 from Powell County High School. After graduation, she followed her husband to the Great Lakes area where she worked for the SOLO cup company, then on to Long Beach, Calif., where she worked as a teller in a bank while he pursued a naval career. It was there she became pregnant with her first son, Patrick. She moved home to Deer Lodge to have the support of her family as a single mother. Sylvia remarried and had two more sons, Sean and Cody, and gained three stepsons. After a few odd jobs, she went to work on the furnaces at the Anaconda Smelter to help support her family. When the Anaconda Company closed, she pursued her true passion in life: nursing. She received her degree as an LPN from the nursing program in Helena. She then moved to Shelley, Idaho, where she continued her career as a trauma nurse and a nurse for the eye surgery center in Idaho Falls. She had found her niche in nursing: surgery. Sylvia loved the surgical part of nursing so much she decided to further her education with an RN degree from Ricks College. She moved to Spokane, Wash., to be closer to family and went to work for the day surgery center at Sacred Heart Hospital. Always wanting to be closer to her grandchildren, she moved back to the Gleason Ranch. She went to work as surgical nurse at the Community Hospital in Anaconda until her retirement. After 25 years of being single and swearing she would never get married again, the love bug bit her one more time. In 2016 she found love again at her granddaughter’s wedding. She and Leonard were married in Reno, Nev., on Sept. 1, 2018, and moved to Nevada. Always homesick for her grandchildren and the Gleason Ranch she would always return to spend her summers. Sylvia was a curious soul who loved an adventure no matter how big or small. She traveled to Europe for four weeks with her sister in 1989. Took her father for his first trip to the Grand Canyon and traveled many miles and states with Leonard in their fifth wheel. They had many more trips planned; one in particular was Ireland. Sylvia was passionate about her family, her friends, her patients, music and a good book. She was a voracious reader and consumed them like candy. Her boys and grandchildren were at the center of her universe. She showered them with love, gifts, money, time and a good talking to if the occasion presented itself. Sylvia is survived by her beloved Leonard; her sons, Patrick, Sean, Cody; and stepsons, Lee, Randy and Bill; her sister, Linda Morehouse (Lyle); 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who were all family to her. She was preceded in death by her parents, brother and a stepson. Sylvia was the light that shined brighter than sunshine through her kindness, open heart and giving soul. She was the glue that held us altogether and will continue to bond us as one in her love. She was smooth like a Patsy Cline song swaying like a beautiful dance on a summer’s day. She will be forever missed, cherished and loved by all who knew her. She was called Lulu, Silver, Mom, Sister, Nana and Baby by those closest to her. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye be also. John 14:2-3 Services will be held in the Community Center of Deer Lodge, 416 Cottonwood Ave., Deer Lodge, MT, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2023. A graveside service will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery, W. Milwaukee Ave., Deer Lodge, MT, with a luncheon after at the Community Center. Dishes, salads, etc. are welcomed and appreciated by the family if brought. Please visit longfellowfinneganriddle.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Sylvia. Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Cremation Services has been honored to care for Sylvia and her family.
Howard Stevenson December 30, 1947 - August 2, 2023
Howard Stevenson, 75, passed peacefully at his home in Deer Lodge, on Aug. 2. Howard had suffered with COPD the last few years. Howard is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sandi Gilman-Stevenson; son, Howard of Deer Lodge; granddaughter, Sheyanne Carpenter (Tristan) of Seeley Lake; stepfather, Orville Fraser of Laurel; sisters, Betty Przybylski of Florida, Valerie Boelter (Tom) of Park City, Lavonne Frank (Pete), and Carol Osmondson (Dan) of Thief River, Minn., Stacey Gable (Dan) of Laurel, Thelma Lofink of Laurel, and Rachel Fraser of Billings; brother, Chad Fraser of Deer Lodge; sister-in-law, Ronnie Kitenberg of Deer Lodge; and brother-in-law, Les Gilman of Elko, Nev.; special nephew, Cody Fraser (Rachel) of Billings and their two children, Taylor and Kane; and, not to forget, numerous cousins, nephews and nieces. Howard was preceded in death by his father, Orville Stevenson, and mother, Florence Stevenson Fraser; brothers, Loren Stevenson and Hank Fraser; sisters; Tammy and Faith Fraser. A graveside service with military honors will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge. Please visit www.axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Howard.
Megan Ann Thompson March 8, 1940 - August 25, 2023
Megan Ann Thompson, 83, of Deer Lodge, died after a brave battle with an acute aortic aneurysm on Aug. 25. Megan was born March 8, 1940, in Deer Lodge, the eldest of four children born to Ruth Bernice (Souter) and Francis Aloysius Dumont Sr. She grew up in Deer Lodge, attending St. Mary’s Academy through eighth grade (Megan loved the nuns!) and graduating from Powell County High School in 1958. At Powell County High School, she was a cheerleader and FFA Queen. After graduation, Megan moved to Helena and went to work for the State of Montana Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Megan married James (“Jim”) Edward Thompson of Gold Creek. The wedding took place at Immaculate Conception Parish in Deer Lodge on Dec. 26, 1959. Megan and Jim began married life at Ft. McClellan in Anniston, Ala., while Jim served in the US Army. The couple returned to Deer Lodge with their first son, Paul Robert, in December 1960 after Jim’s discharge from the service. Megan and Jim were blessed with three more children: Joan Marie, Neil Edward and Keith Michael. Megan cherished the years raising her children, and she and Jim had great fun attending all the kids’ sports, plays, concerts and anything else their children participated in. As a family, they also enjoyed hunting, camping and hiking. Music and art were an integral and important part of Megan’s life. In 1962, Megan joined the newly formed Woman’s Club Chorus – which she participated in for 30 years. She was also 1/3 of the musical comedy trio known as “The Hangtown Gals” along with Barbara Paull and Betty Masters – and the three of them traveled around singing, playing and entertaining for years. Megan also sang in the choir and was the church organist at Immaculate Conception Parish for over 50 years. In 1969, the Deer Lodge Art Club was formed, and Megan joined within its first year of existence. Megan was an active member of the club for the rest of her life, and she enjoyed the time she spent painting with all of her artist friends. Megan also spent many years on the board of the Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation and worked through that organization to support arts and culture in the Deer Lodge area. Megan resumed her working career as her children entered high school. This included Deer Lodge Floral (1977-1986), the Western Shopper (1986-1989) and the Silver State Post (1989-1992). Megan traveled to Denver with AmeriCorps and undertook training in adult education. With this training, she established the Powell County Literacy Program with volunteer tutors in 1989. The community need was evident, and in 1992, funding was obtained, and space was provided by the Kohrs Memorial Library for a full-time Literacy program. Megan served as both a tutor and administrator of the program, and she enjoyed helping many area people realize their GED and other educational goals. She retired from the Literacy program in 2006. Retirement was spent pursuing her interests in art, music and genealogy. She painted, researched family histories, played her piano and banjo, cooked wonderful meals, spent an awful lot of time with her family and friends, and played many hours of pinochle. Megan is preceded in death by her sister, Karen Dumont Bowers, her parents, and many dear friends and extended family. Megan is survived by her husband of 63 years, Jim Thompson; her children and grandchildren Paul (Kathy) Thompson, Brian and Cal; Joan (Rich) Sewell, Kristopher, Matthew (Rachel), McCall (Cameron), and Marin; Neil Thompson (Jenn); Keith (Lisa) Thompson, Kassidi and Kelli; great grandchildren Ashton, Haven and Chase Sewell; Leo and Gregory Sewell; and Clay Stauffer. She is also survived by her siblings Janet Cox and Francis A. Dumont Jr. (Susan), all of Deer Lodge; sister-in-law Ann Larson; brothers-in-law Ed Bowers and Tom Thompson; and numerous nieces and nephews. Megan’s services were held on Saturday, Sept. 2 Megan was laid to rest at Hillcrest Cemetery. Memorials in honor of Megan are suggested to: (all Deer Lodge, MT 59722): Deer Lodge Art Club (PO Box 864); Immaculate Conception Parish (611 Clark); Powell County Literacy Program (409 Missouri Ave., Suite 101). The Thompson family would like to extend thanks to the incredible medical professionals at Deer Lodge Medical Center, Community Medical Center and St. Patrick’s Hospital. Please visit www.axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Megan.
MaryAnn Burton, 90, of Deer Lodge, died Aug. 29. Services were held Sept. 6 in Sheridan, Wyo. A memorial service will be held in Deer Lodge at a later date. Please visit longfellowfinneganriddle.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of MaryAnn.
Scott Andrew Malcolm November 20, 1957 - April 21, 2023
Scott Andrew Malcolm, 65, a long time Deer Lodge resident, passed away in his home on April 21 in his sleep from complications of COPD. He was born Nov. 20, 1957, in Deer Lodge at St. Joseph’s Hospital to Darrell B. Malcolm Sr. and Anne K. Malcolm. He was one of three children. Scott attended school in Deer Lodge. He proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1975 – 1978. Other than his time in the service, Scott never traveled too far from home. Scott was preceded in death by his parents and older sister, Sharon Baker. He is survived by his son, Devin, residing in Montana; his older brother, Darrell “Buzz” B. Malcolm Jr., of Camino, Calif.; a cousin and niece in Deer Lodge; as well as a niece and nephew in Colorado. Rite of Committal with Military Honors followed a quiet service at Hillcrest Cemetery. Contributions may be made to PAWHS, the local animal shelter, or the Powell County Food Pantry in memory of Scott.
Carol Ann Jacobsen May 9, 1946 - August 11, 2023
Carol Ann Jacobsen, 77, of Helena, died Aug. 11 of natural causes. She was born May 9, 1946, in Missoula, to Harold and Hazel Jacobsen of Ovando. She lived with her family on the Ovando family ranch. She worked for her dad in the hayfield summers in between high school and university school years. Her dad used to proudly say that she was a better worker than any hired man he’d ever had. Carol Ann attended the one-room Warren Creek grade school until the school consolidated with Ovando School, a two-room school. She then boarded in Missoula and graduated from Missoula County High School. She attended the University of Montana, graduating with honors with a degree in sociology. She taught second grade 10 years in Townsend and completed a degree in elementary education, with honors, while going to summer school at the University of Montana. Carol Ann retired after working 28 years for the Montana Legislative Services Legal Division and traveled extensively after retirement, touring 17 countries. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the national sociology honorary, the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women and Plymouth Congregational Church. She enjoyed gardening, Grandstreet and Broadway shows, snowmobiling, and spending time with family and her army of amazing friends. She was an avid University of Montana football fan, holding season tickets for decades. Carol Ann spoiled and loved all her pets dearly and generously donated to a variety of causes she believed in. Carol Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Hazel Jacobsen, and by her brother, Gerald (Jake) Jacobsen. Survivors include Sandi and Mike Sandry of Missoula, Kim and Courtney Herzog of Rapelje, Stacie and Travis Cline of Jens; Kristi Jacobsen of Missoula; great nieces and nephews Marlee and Dylan Sandry, Trevor and Ty Herzog, and Remington and Charlee Cline; [uncle Harry Bandy]; and several cousins. At her request, no services will be held. The family suggests that those wishing to donate memorials in Carol Ann’s name make them to the UM Grizzly Scholarship Association or to the Lewis and Clark Humane Society.
Megan Thompson, 83, of Deer Lodge, died Aug. 25. Vigil service will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 605 Clark St., Deer Lodge. Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, at Immaculate Conception with Rite of Committal to follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge. Visit www.axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Megan.
Gene Allen Groome April 26, 1943 - July 31, 2023
Gene Allen Groome, 80, of Deer Lodge, passed away on July 31. Born on April 26, 1943, in Centralia, Wash., he was the son of George and Evelyn Groome. He was a cabinet maker. Gene was preceded in death by his parents. Gene is survived by his sister, Kathleen Judkins of Tumwater, Wash.; brother, Dennis Groome of Tumwater; his children, Grace Novioff, Kathleen Pattison, Tracy Teten, Penny Anderson and Alan Groome; his grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life and potluck will be held at 1 p.m., Aug. 22, in the Pen Gallery, 923 Main St., Deer Lodge.
Sheila Best, 65, passed away on Feb. 22, 2023, in Arizona in the arms of her loving daughter, Candice Delvaux, and loving husband, John. The world has lost a beloved angel that walked the Earth, and she will be so deeply missed. Sheila was born on Aug. 20, 1957, in Deer Lodge, the daughter of loving parents Elaine Lee and Richard VonBergen. Sheila had four brothers, Danny, Marty, Rowdy and Troy. Sheila married the love of her life, John Best, on Oct. 5, 1984, and they spent 39 wonderful years together in Montana and Arizona. They had a daughter together named Candice. Sheila’s greatest joy was being a mother to Candice, and they were the best of friends. Sheila was a loving grandma to Christopher and Evan. Sheila loved traveling, decorating, cooking and most of all, reading. Sheila loved to learn and attended the University of Montana and had several online certifications including travel agent and hospitality management. Sheila was a giver and loved to bless everyone with gifts. Sheila loved God and spent many years volunteering with the church. Sheila loved her two precious dogs, Sassy and Rocky, and it gives us comfort she is cuddled up with them in heaven. We will never forget you Sheila, and we love you with all our hearts.
Valerie Yvonne Benson July 15, 1961 - July 19, 2023
Valerie (Val) Yvonne Benson, 62, of Avon passed away on July 19, 2023. She was born July 15, 1961, to her parents, Bruce and Pauline Benson, and joined her older sister Evelyn. Val attended grade school in Avon where she was involved in many activities, including track, 4-H and basketball, where she was the first female to play basketball on the boy’s team in Avon. While in high school at Powell County High School in Deer Lodge, Val continued to excel in track and basketball where she was selected as an All District and All State Athlete. She was also crowned the FFA queen with Kathy Tamcke. After graduating from high school, Val furthered her education by attending college and obtaining her business degree. Val worked as a secretary for Greany Insurance and for Bonneville Power, along with helping her mom and dad at the ranch. In Val’s free time you could find her enjoying league bowling, and her love for softball, always being the first one to be picked for a team or joining in a tournament. Not much slowed Val down when it came to a good game of softball. Not many knew her other talents, but she was the expert when it came time to irrigate at the ranch, and you would always find her come haying season on her yellow bull rake. She was a member of the Avon Catholic Church and very involved in the community. Val was always up for a good challenge to a hand at pinochle. Val was a good daughter, sister, aunt and friend to many and was always there to give a hand or a listening ear. Later in life Val, Bruce and Pauline enjoyed time caring for each other and taking care of the ranch. Val was preceded in death by her mother, Pauline; aunts; uncles; and grandparents. She is survived by her father, Bruce; sister, Evelyn; Aunt Eva; nieces, Sarah, Beth (Noah), Leigh (Kevin); along with many family members and friends. Val will be greatly missed by all who knew her. The family would like to thank the Avon Ambulance QRU for their repeated care and support through the years. Memorials may be sent to the Avon Ambulance QRU or the Avon Cemetery Association. Services were held July 26 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Deer Lodge. Burial followed at the Avon Cemetery; reception followed at the Avon Community Clubhouse. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a favorite memory of Valerie.
Gary Skinner, 78, passed away on May 28 in Olympia, Wash. He was born on March 16, 1945, in Bozeman. Gary was a loving family man who had a great sense of humor and enjoyed spending time with his wife, his horses and his dogs. Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Herb and Elsie Skinner. He is survived by his wife, Chloe Skinner; his daughter, Tami Skinner; his son, Brian Skinner; his daughter-in-law, Laurel Skinner; his granddaughter, Lily Sinner; his grandson, Nathaniel Skinner; his brothers, Ron, Rick, Ted and Terry; his sister, Sherry Pfendler; and several nieces and nephews. Gary retired a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force after serving our country for 20 years. He went on to work in the private sector for another 20 years. He enjoyed training his horses, making improvements around his property, carpentry and spending time with his family. He was a family man at heart. Services to be determined.
Anne K. Dietrich October 14, 1928 - June 27, 2023
On June 27, 2023, we lost Anne K. Dietrich, Mom, Grannie Annie, at the age of 94. Anne was born a year before the Great Depression on Oct. 14, 1928. She outlived nearly every member of her generation. She was born in her grandparents’ home in Fairview, Mont. She was a child of an agricultural community, many who had “proved up” their homesteads. Anne remained deeply linked to those modest roots. Later, as the wife of dedicated lawyer John M. “Jack” Dietrich, and the mother of five children, she was exposed to many strong, interesting and varied personalities. Anne never forgot whence she came, nor failed to bring common sense, light-heartedness and humor to her environment. Her German/Norwegian/immigrant sense of modesty (she was more authentic than anyone in Lake Wobegon) created a loving and compassionate environment for her family, friends, community and her beloved Mayflower Church. In the Great Depression, her father, Louis C. Kiefer, and her mother, Etta Bauman Kiefer, moved from Fairview, along Montana’s Hi-Line, to Havre and Shelby, and then settled in Deer Lodge; they lived in 14 homes until they purchased a house in Deer Lodge. “I often had only one dress before my high school years,” she said. In Deer Lodge, Louis managed a grocery store. “He would sometimes help the less fortunate to have enough to eat,” she observed. In the 1930s, raised as a “prison city kittie,” she befriended the Middleton family, headed by the Montana State prison warden, and his daughter, Tomme Lu Worden, who remained a lifelong friend. She remembered the “wireless” radio announce the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing while as an early teen she helped her parents install storm windows on the family home. She observed the nation go to war and many young men from Deer Lodge take part. Jack, the “boy across the street” had been drafted out of his first year at Stanford. Later in the war years she and he exchanged letters as he served in Casablanca and Tripoli in the US Army Air Corps. After the war, from 1946 to 1947 she studied at the University of Montana and developed there, working in its library, a lifelong passion for reading. “I unwrapped the new books as they came in and got first crack at reading them.” And there she developed a progressive set of friends (Margot, Lorraine, Barbara, Joanne) who would influence her progressive humanism throughout her life. She married the “young man across the street,” Jack Dietrich, on June 19, 1948, at the Presbyterian Church in Deer Lodge. She was drafted into the role of secretary in his fledgling law practice, helping him be elected as Powell County Attorney. Both of their parents lived in the same neighborhood. There she gave life to her first two children, Paul and Janet. In 1955, Jack and Anne surprised themselves and their parents when they left a recently purchased “forever home” in Deer Lodge to move to Billings for a new opportunity. She supported Jack in his law career at the Crowley Law Firm. Billings was vibrant with Williston Basin oil money and post war expansion. They bought a modest farmhouse on what was then the far West End of Billings (the 2000 block of Pryor Lane), which lacked a phone for several months, and which was served by a dirt road. They renovated the home, adding a second story, and it would serve as her Billings abode for over 62 years until 2017. During the Pryor Lane years, she would give life to three more children, David, Susan and Katja. It was in this home that Mom and Dad exemplified the quote “There are two things we give our children: one is roots, the other wings.” Missing the mountains of Deer Lodge and Western Montana, in 1960, she and Jack located a lot in the Grizzly Peak Mountain homes in the Beartooth foothills; the cabin would become her weekend and summer mountain escape. She would trail her children through ethnic grocery stores and the Festival of Nations in the mining town of Red Lodge. There she and Jack met their cabin neighbors from Minneapolis, who became ranch partners, Vince and Janet Carpenter, with whom they enjoyed a four-decade partnership. She was an eclectic reader, a vigilant gardener, and an available confidant to any of her children or grandchildren who needed advice or wisdom. She placed the Cicero quote at her cabin: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” For decades, she attended her local book club (whose selections were much in demand) with a gaggle of friends, introduced to her by Judy Johnson. Jack died in 2007 and Anne flourished with a second wind of life at 2047 Pryor Lane until 2017, when she moved to Morningstar. “It was like being on a cruise ship,” she would say. She later enjoyed the compassionate care of its Reflections Memory Care Unit since February of 2021. “I intend to live long enough to be a problem to my children” she would joke. The Dietrich family extends its heartfelt thanks for the help to the staff of Morningstar and Stillwater Hospice. Anne was preceded in death by her parents Louis C. Kiefer and Etta Bauman Kiefer, her brother Louis C. Kiefer, her husband Jack Dietrich and her beloved granddaughter Natalie Anne Dietrich. Anne is survived by her children Paul, Janet (Dan Erikson), David (Jan), Suzy (Ryan Clarke) and Katja. Her beloved grandchildren were the light of her life: Christian (Paul); Elizabeth, Ellen, and Zoe (Janet); Rachel (David); Megan, Patrick and Bailey (Suzy); and Jacob (Katja). Anne’s great-grandchildren Archer and Weston (Elizabeth); Finley and Addison (Megan); will grow to learn of Great Grannie Annie’s humor and wisdom. She was a proud member of the Delta Gamma Sorority at the University of Montana, the Billings Chapter “S” P.E.O.; the Junior League of Billings, and in the 1990’s, she served on the Fine Arts Board of the University of Montana. She also enjoyed working as a docent at the Yellowstone Art Museum. A celebration of life will occur at Mayflower Church at 2940 Poly Drive at 11 .m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, with a reception to follow. In the words of Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music: “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night I hate to go and leave this pretty sight … So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu” In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial to the Rialto Theater in Deer Lodge, the Billings Public Library Foundation, the Yellowstone Art Museum, The Mayflower Church or a charity of your choice.
Phyllis Maureen Higle August 6, 1936 - February 14, 2023
On Tuesday February 14th of 2023, Mrs. Phyllis Maureen Higle slipped away to be with our Lord and Savior at age 86 in Phoenix, Ariz. She was surrounded by loved ones and people who cared for her as she passed peacefully. Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents and dear sisters Beverly Demattio, Beulah Smith and Thelma Davenport. Phyllis was born on Aug. 6, 1936 in Circle, Mont. The daughter of Margaret and Arcie DeLapp, she attended grade school there until 1942 when her family moved to Rexford, Mont., at which time she became a student at Rexford Elementary School in Rexford followed by Lincoln County High School in Eureka, Mont. On June 10, 1952, she was united in marriage to the late Thomas Oliver Higle. Together they had four beautiful children, Gregory Higle of Kennewick, Wash., Rebecca Alvis (Steve) of Phoenix, Ariz., the late Clinton Higle, and Lori Peterson (Gary) of Phoenix, Ariz. Phyllis was a devoted wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and friend to all those she knew. She loved spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking for her family and friends.Every weekend you could find family and friends gathered around the supper table for hours, sharing stories and laughter. Phyllis was always ready with a full pot of coffee, fresh sun tea and fresh baked cookies along with an ear for listening to whatever was on your mind, or just for catching up. She was always ready to add an extra plate for supper if Tom happened to bring anyone home with him. Most of all she loved her family! Many weekends you could also find a grandkid or two there as well. Even though Phyllis was not musically inclined her love for music was taught to all her kids and grandkids. You could always count on her house being filled with some type of music playing.She felt music was good for the soul which she instilled in her family. Phyllis also supported Tom with all of his businesses by doing the bookwork to keep them thriving.Later, she worked for Dr. Richard Miller, DMD which she loved keeping his dental office in tip top order. All of Tom and Phyllis’ grandkids would say they were the best grandparents in the world and that their house was the best place to be. A favorite memory by all the grandkids was the homemade popcorn and delicious milkshakes that she treated all of them to. Phyllis will be deeply missed by her grandkids, Jarrod Neckels (Kelly), Stevee Alvis, Lani Jo Gilman (Tal), Meghan Higle (Anthony), Patric Higle (Leanne), Chase Higle, Koby Peterson (Tiana), Emmy Driscoll (Eric), and her 12 great-grandkids. She also leaves behind her brother Farrell DeLapp (Donna) and numerous nieces and nephews. A service will be held in Deer Lodge at the First Baptist Church on Saturday, July 22 at 11:00 am to celebrate the life of Phyllis.
Jack J. N. Price May 3, 1931 - July 19, 2023
Jack, 92, passed away Wednesday evening peacefully in his home surrounded by family. He was born to John and Veronica (Paddy) Price on May 3, 1931, in Missoula. Jack graduated from Powell County High School in 1950. In 1951 he joined the Marines and served in the Korean War through 1953. After the war Jack returned to work at Montana Phosphate Mine (Cominco American) where he would retire after 30 years. In 1956 Jack met Eleanor Ann Cearley during a dance at the Avon Club House. They were married on June 23, 1956. They were blessed with three children. He was so proud of his children, grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. He valued his friendships and never missed an opportunity to meet new people and learn about them. Jack loved making films, pitching horseshoes, history, traveling and working cattle with the family. His legacy will be carried on through his family and agricultural operations. Jack was very active in the community, being a member of numerous organizations. He was preceded in death by his parents and grandchildren Samantha Jo and Isaac. Jack is survived by his wife Eleanor and three children: Sarah (Chuck) Fiske of Butte, John (Lynn Thomas) Price of Avon, and Mary (John) Rantz of Bellingham, Wash.; brother, Henry Price; eight grandchildren; and seven and one-half great grandchildren; a niece and nephew. A viewing will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home in Helena. Graveside services will be held at the Avon Cemetery at 11 a.m., Friday, July 28, with Rite of Committal and Military Honors. A luncheon will follow at the Avon Club House. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to Avon Fire Department, Avon Quick Response Unit (QRU) or Avon Cemetery.
Helen M. Barnett September 25, 1921 - July 14, 2023
Helen M. Barnett, 101, passed away Friday, July 14, at Deer Lodge Medical Center. Born on Sept. 25, 1921, in Iona, S.D., Helen was the daughter of the late Mathew and Ethel (Barkell) Gilpen. She was married to Delbert Barnett, who preceded her in death. Helen was a faithful Jehovah’s Witness as well as a caregiver for her daughter, Lucille. She is survived by her daughter, Lucille Barnett of Deer Lodge, and one son, Jack Barnett of Chino Valley, Ariz. She is further survived by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Private services will be held. Please visit axelsonfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence or share a memory of Helen.
Valerie Y. Benson, 62, of Helena, died July 19, 2023. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, at Immaculate Conception Church, 605 Clark Street in Deer Lodge. Burial will follow the service at the Avon Cemetery in Avon. A reception will follow the burial at the Avon Community Clubhouse on Main Street. Visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to share a favorite memory of Valerie.
Our wonderful husband, father and grandpa, Donald Davis, 97, passed away peacefully on July 13. Don was born in Helena, on April 5, 1926, to parents, Guy and Margaret (McDonald) Davis. He and the family lived on the family ranch in Blossburg, Mont. Don was the youngest of his brother, Dan, and two sisters, Rose and Lucille. He attended grade school in Blossburg and graduated from high school in Elliston, Mont. He joined the military in March of 1945 and was honorably discharged in December of 1946. He returned to Snowshoe and worked on the ranch. On February 12, 1950, he married Ava Brantner in Deer Lodge. They lived at Snowshoe and had two sons, James and Thomas. Their youngest son, Steve, was born when they were on the ranch at 3 Mile. In 1967, the family moved to Deer Lodge, and Don went to work on the Williams and Tavenner Ranch north of Deer Lodge. When the ranch was sold to the Ward family, he stayed on and managed it for them until the fall of 1996 when he semi-retired and he and Ava moved to Deer Lodge. Upon full retirement he developed new interests. One was shooting pool with his grandson, Jim, and good friends in Deer Lodge and Arizona. When he got a guitar and started taking lessons, it started a whole new life for him and Ava. They met so many new and dear friends as they started ‘jamming’ in Montana and Arizona. They loved going to the Thursday Night Jammers. Don was a soft-spoken man, but you knew when he meant business. Dad was good at everything he did, whether it was dragging calves to the branding fire, team roping with friends, or growing hay and grain. He will be greatly missed. Don was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Dan; sisters, Rose and Lucille; and son, James. Don is survived by his wife of 73 of years, Ava Davis of Deer Lodge; son, Thomas and wife, Vicky and their son, James and wife, Brandy Beck Davis, all of Deer Lodge; son, Stephen and wife, Patricia O’Connell Davis of Corvallis, Mont., and their daughters, Bridgid Jarrett (Clay), Heather Gray (Tim), and Meaghan Price (Brad); eleven grandchildren, fourteen great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. A graveside service with Military Honors will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 24, at the Avon Cemetery in Avon, Mont. A reception will follow at the Elks Lodge #1737, 230 Main St. in Deer Lodge. In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Don are suggested to an organization of the donor’s choice. Visit www.anacondafuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Don. Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Crematory has been privileged to care for Don and his family.
David T. Adamson December 24, 1944 - July 8, 2023
This is a picture of my brother Dave when we were in our prime. He was born Dec. 24, 1944, in Great Falls, and passed away July 8 in Sheridan, Mont. We grew up ranching in Fort Benton and Augusta. He served a mission for Jesus Christ in Brazil 1964-1966 and then attended college in Cedar City and Logan, Utah. Dave graduated from USU in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Econ. He worked on the 2 Bar ranch in Wheatland and Laramie, Wyo. There he met and married Irene Smith, who could ride and rope with the best of them, a match surely made in Heaven. They managed the Polo Ranch at Big Horn, Wyo. for a couple of years and then moved to Reno Creek Ranch near Crow Agency, Mont., and managed it for Peterson Cattle Company until it was sold. They gained a daughter, Renee, while there. They then continued in ranch management on the Becker ranch near Vale, Ore. Dave also went into real estate while there. After a while they gained a son, Jake, and then moved to Glasgow, Mont., and continued in ranch management for Page Widdum. They then took a short side trip to Fargo, N.D., before returning to Bozeman. He purchased a Rainbow International carpet cleaning business and began a different and very busy lifestyle. After a few years he sold that and dove headfirst back into real estate. He became a broker and formed Montana Property Consultants, selling land all over Montana. He bought a little place at Cardwell, Montana. The UD Bar became a gathering place for the grandkids and many fond memories were made. Irene raised calves while Dave sold property. They bought another place at Deer Lodge and lived there a while. They sold that place and moved back to the place in Cardwell until about 5 years ago when they sold the UD Bar and built a home on 18 acres south of Whitehall. During the Cardwell time he served as Bishop of the Whitehall Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for 5 years. Dave is survived by Irene, his loving wife of 51 years, their daughter Renee, her children Mikaela and Payton. Dave’s son Jake and his partner Heather and her children Abi and Cash. Dave’s older brother Lane, his wife Charlie and many beloved nieces and nephews. Dave left an impression on everyone he met and loved to tell his many life stories. He will be missed and never forgotten. Memorial service will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 41 Mormon Lane, Whitehall, Mont. Reception to follow. Since no day and time was given at publication, please call the church in Whitehall for funeral information.
Funeral services for former Montanaresident Phyllis Maureen Higle, 86, of Phoenix, Ariz., will be held in Deer Lodge at the First Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 22.
Douglas H. Croonquist October 21, 1946 - June 4, 2023
Douglas H. Croonquist, 76, passed away June 4, 2023, at home, surrounded by loved ones. After a severe spinal injury in October, he received home care and therapy, always with a smile, quick wit and unbelievable determination. He didn’t win the battle but gave it all he had every hour, every day. Born Oct. 21, 1946, in Butte, Douglas was the son of Richard and Jean Croonquist. Soon after, his parents; older brother, Steve; sister, Lynda; and Doug, bought a large cattle ranch outside of Deer Lodge. He was a cowboy through and through, enjoying his first cattle drive at the age of 5. Deer Lodge was home until he was 9 years old, when the family moved to Spokane Valley, Wash., leaving the ranch in the care of his grandparents and ranch hands. Doug attended Opportunity Grade School and Bowdish Jr. High until the age of 15. He was an outstanding athlete during his teenage years, lettering in football and track. He held offices in the Student Council and Class Officer as well. An outgoing and friendly guy, his friendships were many and continue to this day. Doug and his family returned to the ranch in Deer Lodge in 1960, where he attended Powell County High School, again being a tough competitor in football and track. The family ranch sold, and they then moved to Gresham, Ore. Doug attended Centennial High and again lettered in his favorite sports. With interests in geology and engineering, his careers included water well drilling in his early 20s in the Portland area, engineering and supplying goods to Oil Co. Exploration Rigs in Colorado in the 1970s and 80s. Returning to Gresham, he started his own business, Exeter Drilling Co in the early 1990s. He retired as shop foreman from Erector’s Inc. Doug married Sandi Beck Croonquist on Feb. 14, 1996, in Sedona, Ariz., and the couple lived in Gresham for the next 27 years. They led a very hardworking, but adventurous life together. Loving the outdoors, they biked through England’s Cotswalds, hiked the Alps in Austria and Switzerland, and cruised on a four-masted sailing ship from Thailand to Singapore. Gold mining was their retirement passion, having lived off-grid for weeks at a time in Montana, Southern Oregon, and finally Nome, Alaska, at several Gold Adventure Camps on the Bering Sea, making special friends along the way. Doug and Sandi relocated to Pinehurst, Idaho, in 2019, where they built their forever home which they greatly loved. Doug is preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Jean Croonquist; his brother, Steve (Susan) Croonquist; his sister, Lynda (Alan) Cowen; and step-mother, Janice Croonquist. He is survived by his loving wife, Sandi; a sister, Tracy (Jim) Gaither; two sons, Tyson Croonquist and Travis (Shelli) Croonquist; two daughters, Deedra (Steve) Crofcheck and Dancia (John) Hall; and a step-daughter, Heather Thompson Yoder (Ken). Doug is also survived by 10 grandchildren: Joseph and Cameron Croonquist, Dylon Croonquist, Torrey Jarrett, Zachary and Zoe Hall, Makenna and Kylee Crofcheck, and Jessica and Sam Thompson; four great-grandchildren, Elliot and Clover Jarrett, and Evalena and Martha Hall; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Doug will be greatly missed by his family and friends. His contagious smile and quick wit will always be remembered. His unconditional love for his children; wife, Sandi; and friends, new and old, will be his lasting legacy. A celebration of his life for his family and close friends will be held mid-August in Deer Lodge. In Doug’s memory, donations may be made to Hospice of North Idaho by visiting https://www.hospiceofnorthidaho.org/donate. Memories of Doug and messages of condolence may be shared with his family online at www.shoshonefuneralservice.com. Shoshone Funeral Services, Kellogg, is honored to assist the Croonquist family with arrangements.
Velda May Kostoff Cliett May 17, 1937 - June 10, 2023
Velda May Kostoff Cliett, 86, passed on June 10 in Oroville, Calif., after a brief illness. She was born to Louis Delani Kostoff and Marion Haddie Wickard Kostoff on May 17, 1937, in Deer Lodge. She was a cosmetologist for 47 years and loved it dearly. She belonged to Beta Sigma Phi and was a member of a Chapter in Twin Falls, Idaho, before moving to California, where she joined the Laureate Epsilon Gamma Chapter. She was the youngest of 10 children and is now home with her parents, brothers and sisters. Velda is survived by her children Lance (Gloria) Brown of Northern Idaho; Jim (Barbara) Day of California; Debbie (Jim) Lash of California; Walter Day of Ontario, Ore.; Milt Day of Twin Falls; Richard Day of Three Creeks, Idaho; and two stepsons Randy (Judy) Cliett and Andy (Carroll) Cliett of Twin Falls. Velda has 17 grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren and several great great grandchildren. Velda will be missed by many friends and loved ones.
Robyn Dombrowski June 29, 1952 - June 11, 2023
We are shocked and saddened to report that our kind, generous and loving wife, mom, grandma, friend and spitfire, Robyn Dombrowski, 70, has died on June 11 at Anaconda Community Hospital. She fought cholangiocarcinoma for several months with courage, determination, vulnerability, grace and most importantly, hope. She most unwillingly left behind her husband Wayne Dombrowski; daughters, Heather Lopp; Erin Slack; Brianna Turley; Amanda Williams; and Vickie White, as well as countless friends and family members. Robyn was born to Gordon and Inez Burnett, June 29, 1952, in Detroit Lakes, Minn. She was described as a happy baby and grew up a pleasant child, never without a puppy, kitten, horse or occasionally, squirrel. Her family moved to Montana in the late 1960s, and Robyn graduated from Polson High School. She then attended Concordia College. After College she married Robert Clayton and had two daughters Heather and Erin, both born in Polson. The family moved to the high country of Arizona for a few years before moving back to the Flathead Valley, in Kalispell. After both daughters had graduated from Flathead High School and Heather had married, Robert, Robyn and Erin enjoyed life in the open spaces of Roundup. They then finally settled squarely between Anaconda and Deer Lodge. On Aug. 8, 2009, Robyn and Wayne married and joined their lives of love, aﬀection, service and stability. Throughout her life, Robyn expressed a desire to know if a true god existed. Disappointed with the hypocrisy she witnessed in many faiths, she began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and became convinced of what she learned as truth. That belief set a precedent for how she framed the rest of her life. Sharing her hope of a beautiful future and assisting others to utilize tools to affect positive change in their lives, regardless of their beliefs, became a mainstay of her life’s course. Robyn spent over 30 years of her life serving as a full-time minister in that endeavor. Robyn in all her embodiments was someone with whom we have laughed, cried, joked, teased, sympathized with, cringed at, admired, respected and ultimately, loved. How does one sum up the existence of such a cherished human in so few sentences? How do we describe the impact of one specific person on the lives of so many others? Maybe we begin with ice cream parties, cheap shoes, farting ring tones, turkey roasting instructions, gift giving, adoration and adoption of other’s children, letter writing mornings, biking the Hiawatha trail, garage sales, barbecue buying, iPad deal sleuthing, lunches at Panera, surprise tractor purchases, unvarnished commentaries, savage loyalty and divine-like love. Our Robyn lived with a resolution. A resolution embodied by the words of the Psalmist, “I will never abandon my loyal love for him nor be untrue to my promise.” She lived and died with a hope. A sure hope. A hope expressed by the inspired words of the Bible’s prophet, Isaiah, “Awake and shout joyfully you residents in the dust! And the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.” Isaiah 26:19 A memorial service for Robyn Dombrowski was held June 24. Please visit the longfellowfinneganriddle.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Robyn.
Dennis L. “Den” Tice September 8, 1952 - June 6, 2023
On Tuesday night, June 6, Den, 70, lost his hard fought, yet brief, battle with oropharyngeal cancer. He was surrounded by family and passed away peacefully late that evening. Born to Fran and Everett Tice in Spokane, Wash., Den was the oldest of five children. He attended school in Spokane and later in Lewiston, Idaho. Den had an innocent curiosity about learning how things worked. He would take apart toys, engines, and many other things - and would get scolded by adults for this, even though he could reassemble and rebuild things to a like-new condition. He was known as the original MacGyver to co-workers and friends for his ability to fix things with whatever was handy. Den was also blessed with an exceptional skill at wood-working. He made custom pieces and built high-end homes on Big Mountain as well as the Kalispell and Lakeside areas. He loved flying and was building a Bauers Flybaby, which was 90% completed at the time of his death. Den loved being in the mountains, playing his guitar around a campfire, or fly-fishing and exploring with his dog Sadie at his side. Den had been married and divorced a few times when he met the love of his life, Marika Hansen, in Deer Lodge. They spent almost three decades together, and she was at his side until the very end. Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Candi Myers, and his brother Michael Tice. He is survived by his partner Marika; his daughter Jennifer (Gareth) Tice; sister Kathy Klunder; brother John Tice; stepchildren Jesse (Sheena) Hansen; Justin Hansen; and Stormee Hansen; 10 granddaughters, three grandsons; one great-grandson; numerous nieces and nephews; and of course, Sadie, his beloved dog. Den requested there be no funeral service. His ashes will be scattered at a later date at his favorite mountain spot. Donations to help with medical expenses and cremation costs can be sent to Virginia Gillette, 113 Larabie Street, Deer Lodge, MT 59722.
David Paul Meier March 16, 1927 - June 15, 2023
David Paul Meier, 96, passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 15 in Deer Lodge. He was born March 16th, 1927 in Winona, Minn. where he grew up surrounded by a loving family. Dave took military training at the Great Lakes Naval Center after he reached his 18th birthday, during his senior year of high school. His three brothers had already signed up to serve. After training he joined his crew on the USS Langley to fight during WWII in the Mediterranean Arena. When WWII ended, Dave traveled to Montana to pursue a career as an agent with the Northern Pacific and eventually the Burlington Northern Railroad. He worked around the state including Twin Bridges, Garrison and Deer Lodge throughout his 40-year career. He was fondly known as Depot Dave! On Aug. 1, 1959, Dave married Nora Ryan. Together they had three daughters: Shelly, Mary and Patty. Nora and Dave were married for 63 wonderful years, and she supported him throughout his career. Dave was always active in the community and willing to lend a helping hand to friends and strangers. Dave belonged to the Deer Lodge Immaculate Conception Catholic Church where he could often be found volunteering to help for special occasions or events. His faith was a strong part of his life. He belonged to the Knights of Columbus for over 25 years, was an American Legion member, Boy Scout Leader and Veterans Honor Guard member participating in over 100 military funerals. Depot Dave was one of the few people in Montana who could still do Morse Code and enjoyed sharing it with others through demonstrations with the Montana Morse Telegrapher’s Association. Giving back to his community and his military service to his country were important to Dave. As a father and grandfather to all “girls,” he made sure they knew how to fish, camp, hunt and work around tools. Dave worked hard for his family and enjoyed the great outdoors that Montana provided with an unparalleled zest for life until the very end. He was well known for his ability to tell many stories about hunting elk in the Rubies, fishing with his granddaughters, his garden and being on his daughter’s boat in Alaska with family (He always caught the biggest fish!). His optimism in life and compassion for family, friends and strangers touched those around him. We will never know how many people were impacted by his willingness to help others over the years. Dave’s secret to a long life was staying active, along with spending time with family and many wonderful friends throughout his life. The world was a better place with Dave in it, and he will be greatly missed by all. Dave was preceded in death by his parents, Ethel and Paul Meier; his sisters, Jean Gervais and Patricia Meier; brothers, Stanley, Charles and Gerald Meier; and daughter, Patricia (Patty) Traverso. He is survived by his wife, Nora Meier; daughters, Richelle (Shelly) Deering, Mary Perkins; and grandchildren, Kathryn (Katy) Germann, Zoey and Alyah Perkins. Dave’s funeral service was held June 22 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Deer Lodge. Memorials can be directed to Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, www.themmrf.org; or Immaculate Conception Church: 605 Clark St, Deer Lodge, MT 59722.
Donald Boone Nichols January 20, 1931 - June 17, 2023
Born free in a wild place with a strong heart, the son of a West Virginia coal miner, Pat E. Nichols and Kansas farm girl, Margerette D. Pettit, in Summers, Kan., at the beginning of the Great Depression, Jan. 20, 1931. They soon migrated to Montana when he was less than 2 years old. Being a miner, his dad took up gold mining but left the family destitute when coming home from Ennis where he played guitar and sang at a bar. Pat’s brother rolled the car at the bottom of the Madison Hill where the Barter Ranch turn off was and the gold mine he last worked, killing them both. Donald was 6; his brother, Ted Nichols, was 4; and his older sister, Betty, was 10. His mother had to work to make ends meet, leaving him alone to a beautiful wilderness there all around Norris, between the Tobacco Root Mountains and the Madison River to instill awe and a deep connection to the wild. Stationed at Guam during his service in the Navy at the beginning of the Korean War, his love and connection with the natural world deepened, where he got to explore the beauty and grandeur of the ocean waters. After discharging from the service, he went back to West Virginia where he met Berdina King, married and started his family. They brought Barbara Nichols into this world there. After a few years, he brought his family back to Montana where he hoped to live a simple life surrounded by wilderness. On their way they discovered Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he would become a machinist, and bring Dan Nichols into this world. He found land in northern Montana, but after copper was discovered under his land, he went looking for better wilderness, but his wife left him and that would change him forever. From then on, he would try to find a way to be free, living off the land in the mountains of Montana. This would come to a tragic end in 1984, when he and his son tried to kidnap a young woman to live in the mountains, killing her would-be rescuer. In court he had the courage to take responsibility for his actions. From then on, he would be known as “The Mountain Man.” Don would spend the next 33 years in prison where he eventually would become the gardener for the prison for over 20 years. He dedicated his time to making the prison a more beautiful place and was much appreciated for his abundant flower gardens. In spite of all the tragedy in his life, he always nurtured the beauty and sanity of the natural world. He always believed our salvation as a nation lie in going back to more simple ways of living close to the land where family comes first, and we can develop that intimate connection with the earth. He is survived by his half-brother; his son and daughter; grandkids; great-grandkids; and nieces and nephews.
Elsie Caroline (Periman) Phillips April 28, 1931 - June 20, 2023
Our beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away peacefully at the Deer Lodge Medical Center in Deer Lodge on June 20. Elsie Caroline (Periman) Phillips was born April 28, 1931, in Deer Lodge, to Ralph and Montana (Girard) Periman. Elsie attended grade school at St. Mary’s Academy in Deer Lodge and graduated from Powell County High School in 1949. Elsie married Fred Phillips on Sept. 30, 1951. The couple resided in Deer Lodge where they built their home and raised their three children. Elsie was a stay-at-home Mom until her children were in grade school and was then employed by the Powell County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, retiring as the Deputy Clerk and Recorder. Upon retirement, Elsie spent countless hours in her yard and flower gardens. She received recognition for the most beautiful yard and flowers in Deer Lodge during the Tri County Fair contest. She loved decorating her house and yard for all the holidays and seasons. Elsie loved to bake (especially Christmas cookies). She and Fred were well known for the many weddings and special occasion cakes they professionally baked and decorated. She loved a good game of pinochle and enjoyed her bunco group. She enjoyed watching her children and grandchildren in their activities. She loved to throw a few quarters into the machines at Lucky Lil’s and made many friends there. Elsie was a lifelong member of the Immaculate Conception Church in Deer Lodge. She assisted with laundering the church linens, was a secretary for the CCD program, and worked countless hours assisting with church luncheons and banquets. Elsie was preceded in death by her husband Fred in 1991. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Montana Periman; her in-laws, Wayne and Freda Phillips; brother Donald Periman; son-in-law, Pat Mclaughlin; and grandson, Matthew Phillips. She is survived by her three children, Ralph (Butch) Phillips and his wife Karen, Shirley Mclaughlin, and Teresa Schulz and her husband Bill. She is also survived by her precious four grandchildren, Sarah Maddock and her husband Bradly, David Phillips and his wife Dawn, Jherianne Fluke and her husband Keegan, and Nicole Dirks and her husband Josh; along with her nine great-grandchildren, Thea, Elsie and Otto Dirks, Will and Wesley Maddock, Henry and Raelynn Fluke, and Michael and Samuel Phillips. Also surviving is her sister-in-law, Rose Periman. The family would like to thank all the staff at the Deer Lodge Medical Center who cared for Elsie during her brief stay. Also, to the staff of Renaissance Assisted Living for their loving care and assistance of the last two years. A vigil and rosary service was held June 26. A Funeral Mass for Elsie followed by a graveside service were held June 27. Memorials can be made to the charity of choice. Please visit longfellowfinneganriddle.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Elsie. Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Cremation Service has been privileged to care for Elsie and her family.