John Wesley Harr
John Wesley Harr
March 13, 1978 - December 8, 2016
Johnny was so much to so many people, a devoted husband and father, a brother and son; he loved his family fiercely. He loved his friends like family. Johnny had an overwhelming amount of love that he was so willing to share. To know him was an honor. He is irreplaceable and unforgettable.
A gifted athlete, Johnny was laid back, yet a true warrior in competition. Johnny once ran two marathons in a week during his cancer treatments! Humble, gracious, and honest, Johnny told the hard truths and wasn’t afraid to walk the path least traveled. He was loyal, even to people who may not have deserved it. He was funny, a story teller who tattooed his presence everywhere he went.
Johnny was born in Red Lodge and on July 10, 1978, he became the newest member of the Harr family in Butte. It was on that day, Wes and Jane Harr brought Johnny home as his adoption was nearly finalized. Johnny completed the bulk of his education in Deer Lodge as he moved with this family in first grade when they purchased The Malt Shoppe, a local diner, which they later expanded down the street into the Nickelodeon Cafe, a family restaurant.
He began wrestling in AAU Wrestling and continued the sport through Jr. High. He dabbled in basketball, although his coordination didn’t quite match his height at that time. He attended Powell County High School in Deer Lodge, where he played football, basketball, and ran track. Luckily, his coordination had improved tremendously, and he was first recognized as the gifted athlete we’d come to know! Johnny then transferred to Butte Central High School the latter part of his junior year, where he played basketball and football. Because of his height, he was affectionately known as, “Big John.”
Upon graduation, he attended Montana Tech in Butte on a football scholarship, transferred to Dixie State in St. George, Utah, and finally graduated from Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore., where he played football and basketball. Johnny graduated with degrees in Anthropology and Psychology. His professional occupation was as an Adult Foster Provider, where he acted as the primary caregiver for adults with special needs.
Johnny was the ultimate caregiver, as his profession clearly demonstrated. His life’s purpose was to care for others, starting with his family, spreading to his friends, even affecting strangers he’d just met. His greatest joy in life truly came from benefiting others, and Johnny helped everyone he could.
Johnny Harr passed away December 8, 2016 of colon cancer at the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore., where he was lovingly cared for by an amazing medical staff, family, and friends. He is survived by his wife, Laura (Lovrien) Harr, and children, Layah (two), Zoe (six), WesLeigh (10), Alyviah (16), and Cassidy (18). Johnny is also survived by his mom and dad, Wes and Jane Harr, of Deer Lodge, grandma, Shirley Harr, of Dillon, sister, Jennifer Harr, and nephew, Niles Harr (seven), of Anaconda, sister, Michelle (Harr) Navarro, and brother-in-law, Nick Navarro, niece, Nichole Navarro (seven), and nephew, Michael Navarro (10), of Florence, and many aunts and cousins.
A favorite quote of Johnny’s was, “When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live,” said by Stuart Scott.
Johnny Harr dominated cancer; Johnny Harr beat cancer.
Donations can be made directly to The Johnny Harr Fund at any Selco Credit Union. To mail a donation to The Johnny Harr Fund, send a check or money order to:
Selco Credit Union, 299 East 11th Ave., Eugene, OR 97401.
A celebration of Johnny’s life will be held in Deer Lodge in March.
Marilyn D. (Eliason) Chappelow
Marilyn D. (Eliason) Chappelow, 80, of Independence Mo., passed away on January 17, 2017. She was born on July 27, 1936, in Butte to Harvey and Helen Eliason. Marilyn and her husband Sam were long time residents of the Deer Lodge Valley before moving to Missouri.
Marilyn is survived by her husband of 58 years, Samuel Chappelow; son, Keith (Karen) Chappelow of Hastings, Mich.; daughter Joylyn Chappelow of Independence, Mo.; brother Neil Eliason of Bigfork; four grandchildren, Michael (Aimee) Chappelow, Brent Chappelow, Elizabeth (Cameron) Kulhanek, and John Chappelow; seven nieces and three nephews and her beloved doggy, Chico.
A visitation was held from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, January 21 with a memorial service following at 2 p.m. at the East Independence Community of Christ Church in Independence, Mo. Contributions can be made to the Oblation Fund of Community of Christ, 1001 W. Walnut Independence, MO 64050.
Ida Leah (Jones) Hamilton
Ida Leah (Jones) Hamilton, 89, died of natural causes on January 10, 2017 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena.
Ida and Ada her identical twin, were born on July 14, 1927 to Alex and Ida Jones in Deer Lodge. Ida was raised on the family ranch in Avon. She later met Vernon H. Hamilton and married March 10, 1946, they spent 37 years together and raised five children before Vernon passed away in April of 1983.
She was employed by Silver City Sawmill and retired after 17 years. Ida later met her life companion Elmer “Buzz” Wallace. They spent their time traveling, camping and fishing. You always knew it was them in their awesome motorhome. They resided in Elliston until “Buzz” passed away.
Ida had an amazing sense of humor and always put a smile on the face of those around her. She had a passion for the outdoors and she adored John Wayne (There isn’t a Western she hadn’t seen.) She loved to cook and be surrounded by family and friends.
She is preceded in death by her husband Vernon H. Hamilton, identical twin Ada Smith, sister Marie Neubaur, son Russ Hamilton, granddaughters Brandy Hoyrup, Ekho Hoyrup and Jolene Hamilton, her parents Alex and Ida Jones, daughter-in-law Paula Bonogofsky, and life partner Elmer “Buzz” Wallace.
She is survived by her sister June Hamilton of Thompson Falls, children; Alex (Debbie) Hamilton of Florence, Deb (Bret) Hoyrup of Helena, Barb (Ron) McPhee of Belgrade, Bruce Hamilton (Tami) of Helena, daughter-in-law Linda Hamilton of Lincoln and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A special thank you to Cherly Green and Lacey McPhee for their love and support!
A celebration of Ida’s life will be held in July and will be announced at a later date.
Marie Potts Gilbert
Marie Potts Gilbert, 98.
Our mother disliked long obituaries. She threatened to come down and haunt us if a lengthy one was ever written for her. So, we told her we would write, “she was born, she lived, and she died.” She said, “Fine!” However, after 98 years of living it was decided she deserved more than that.
Mom was born February 13, 1919 in Butte to George and Frances Potts. She was raised in Helmville, the oldest of eight children. She attended St Vincent’s Academy in Helena and later business school in Butte.
In 1940 she married Clifford “Kick” Gilbert. They had six children; Lois Cearley (Jim), Linda Jennings (Cork), Tom Gilbert (Terry Sullivan), Margie Nield (Kent), Phyllis Welch (Tom), and Marvin Gilbert. Mom and dad bought a home in Deer Lodge where she continued living for 76 years. After 35 years of running the Texaco on Main Street with Dad, she kept busy going to “the cabin,” snowmobiling (only until age 96!), playing cards, and volunteering at the Deer Lodge Elementary School where many students called her “Grandma.”
She was preceded in death by her husband, Kick; grandson, David Gilbert; great-granddaughter, Taylor Cearley; sisters, Terese Sewell and Eileen O’Loughlin; brothers, Jack, Frank, and George Potts. She is survived by all her children, 14 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, sisters, Jean Haviland and Lois Tolon, numerous nieces and nephews. Memorials may be made in her name to the Deer Lodge Senior Citizens, Compassus Hospice, or a charity of donor’s choice.
Visitation was at noon Thursday, January 19, at Jewell Funeral Home with a Vigil service taking place at 6 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Friday, January 20 at 11 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church, Deer Lodge.
Sleep in peace - We love you.
Larry J. Swindler
Larry J. Swindler, 69, of Orange City, Iowa passed away surrounded by family on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at Avera Dougherty Hospice House.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 28, at Miller Funeral Home-Downtown, 507 S. Main Ave. Burial will be later this summer at Deer Lodge.
Larry James Swindler, son of Lawrence and Alvina (Sutnik) Swindler, was born December 11, 1947 in Elgin, N.D. He grew up in Mott, N.D. where he enjoyed playing baseball, basketball, football; also hunting and fishing in the Cannonball River. Larry graduated from Mott Lincoln High School in 1965. He attended Dickinson State University for a short time before enlisting into the US Army from 1967-1969.
Larry was united in marriage with Jacqueline Greff on February 13, 1971 in Richardton, N.D. Shortly after their marriage they moved to Gold Creek to ranch with his father and brother. They ranched in Montana until 1979 when they moved to Huron, S.D. Wanting to return to raising livestock and farming, the family made a short move to Wessington, S.D. In May of 1985 they moved to Deer Lodge and he began working for the United States Postal Service in November. Larry transferred to Dakota Central Mail Distribution Facility in 1997 where he worked until he retired in 2010. They moved to Orange City, Iowa in 2011.
He was a member of the American Legion and VFW in Wessington, S.D. and Deer Lodge. He was also involved in the Elks and was in bowling leagues for many years. Larry loved being with his grandchildren where they would rock hunt and play ball in the basement. He loved hunting and fishing, taking pack trips with horses and mules in the mountains, gold panning and metal detecting. Larry loved the animals that were in his life, especially his dog, Reba and mules, Annabelle and Big Enough.
Grateful for having shared his life are his wife of 45 years, Jaqueline “Jackie,” Orange City, Iowa; a son, Jason (Dee Roy) Swindler and their children, Avery Roy, Sydney and Aidan Swindler, Mitchell, S.D.; a daughter, Gail (Keith) Bolton and their children, Sawyer and Paisley Bolton, Sioux Center, Iowa; a brother, Robert (Gladys) Swindler, Hays, Kans.; and a sister, Sandra Swindler Brasmer, Puyallup, Wash.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Alvina Swindler; and his infant son, Daniel James Swindler.
Memorials may be given to Avera Dougherty Hospice House, 4509 S Prince of Peace Pl, Sioux Falls, SD 57103 or a charity of your choice.
For online obituary and guest register please go to our website at www.millerfh.com.
Earl Dallas Ford
Montana State Prison inmate Earl Dallas Ford died on Monday, January 23, 2017 of an extended illness at Montana State Prison. Mr. Ford was 76 years old.
Mr. Ford was sentenced out of Missoula County in 1994 for the crime of Sexual Intercourse without Consent. Mr. Ford was sentenced to Montana State Prison for 100 years, without the possibility of parole.
James Fern Fitz
James Fern Fitz passed away on January 6, 2017 at the Deer Lodge Center where he had been living for the past year under the wonderful care of the staff who grew to love him.
Jim was born on August 21, 1927 in Chehalis, Wash. to Fern and Ethel Fitz where he grew up ranching, logging and eventually became a heavy equipment operator.
Jim and his first wife, Vivian Stearns, met at school in Boisfort, Wash. They had three children, James, Vivian, and Nancy. They later divorced, and he then met his companion of 20 years, Maxine Crews. She was his cowgirl and they spent their time in Centralia, Wash. taking care of his mother and the ranch she owned near Curtis, Wash. Shortly after Maxine’s passing in 1999, Jim moved to Deer Lodge to live with his daughter Nancy and her family. He spent the remainder of his days charming the waitresses at the local 4B’s and Avon Cafe.
Jim enjoyed attending auctions and estate sales. He was an enthusiastic reader of local history, loved watching old TV westerns and spending time driving the back roads with his son-in-law David. Jim had a need for big boy toys; be it boats, tractors, trucks or horses, and he managed to add another one to the collection each time Nancy was distracted. Jim lived with Dave and Nancy in their dream home on three acres with a view he fell in love with. He spent time sitting in his favorite arm chair watching the mountains in the town he grew to call home. He had a knack for putting a smile on everyone’s face, and he quickly became friends with all those he crossed paths with. Most will remember him for his perfect one-liners, his flirtatious demeanor, and his stubborn attitude. He will be deeply missed, and the excitement he brought to his family and friends will never be forgotten.
Jim is survived by his children, James and his wife Judy Fitz of Arizona, Vivian and her husband Frank Burke of Nevada, and Nancy and her husband David Moore of Montana, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren in North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Montana. He was preceded in death by his parents, his companion, Maxine Crews and his brother Gerald Fitz.
The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the staff of the Deer Lodge Center for their care and compassion.
In accordance with Jim’s wishes, there will not be a service, however, friends and family are invited to gather in a celebration of Jim’s life on Saturday, January 21, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.
Helen Mae Schaffer
Helen, 87, left us to join her beloved husband, Buck, and her many friends and family members on Thursday, January 12, 2017. She lived her life to the fullest and left us with only happy memories. Helen was born in Butte on October 1, 1929 to Frank & Agnes (Murphy) Harris. She lived her childhood years on the family homestead east of Deer Lodge and started grade school at the Emery School located east of Deer Lodge at the Emery Mine site. She graduated from Powell County High School with the Class of 1947. Helen lived in Deer Lodge until 1998, when she built a house south of town seven miles. In 2012 she moved to Hunters’ Pointe retirement home in Helena. She enjoyed her life at Hunters’ Pointe. There was nothing better than a fast game of poker, pinochle or bingo to win a nickel from her friends. She was a card shark to the very end!
On November 21, 1947 Helen married her best friend, Dale “Buck” Schaffer. They lived a wonderful life together and made many memories that we will cherish forever. Buck and Helen had many good friends and traveled extensively with them. They never had a ‘down-weekend’ in their life. Helen loved anything with yarn attached to it! She spun yarn from the sheep and knitted or crocheted many sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, pot-holders, and sometimes mystery items! She was an avid and very competitive bowler. She was the Montana delegate to the Senior National tournament in Reno at the age of 80. She continued her bowling career to the very end, bowling on the Wii bowling league at the Hunter’s Pointe. Her high point game on the Wii was a 299 just a year ago. Her yard was very important to her. She spent most of her summer days making her flowers bloom for us.
Buck & Helen owned and operated “Buck’s Union 76” gas station for 10 years in the 1960s. Helen started working for the local telephone company when it was “Mountain Bell.” She continued as the office manager in the Deer Lodge office for 20 years as it went from Mountain Bell, to U.S. West, to Qwest, to Century Link. When the Deer Lodge office closed in 1984, she transferred to the Helena office until her retirement in 1990. She always had her side-line business of sewing and knitting for anybody that needed any kind of stitching done.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Buck and her parents Frank & Agnes, and her only sibling, Ann Hilderman. She is survived by her children, Bill (Barbara) Schaffer of Washougal, Wash., Debi (Dan) Kelley of Deer Lodge, and John (Rhonda) Schaffer of Helena. Also her pride and joys, that only knew her as “Gramma Buck” – grandchildren, Cody (Karlee) Kelley, Ryan (fiancée Lindsay Bras) Kelley, Kyle (Leigh) Kelley, Tyler (Jessica) Pipinich, Shelby Schaffer and Kelly Souza; great-grandchildren, Claire & Wiley Kelley; McKenna, Bridger & Alexa Pipinich; Jordan & Cory Souza. Mom never liked funerals, so at her request there will be no services. The next time you see an eagle soaring – throw her a kiss!
Carol Gerdts was born January 16, 1943 to Dorothy and Alfred Gerdts in Deer Lodge. She went to be with her Lord on December 10, 2016. She graduated from high school in 1961 and moved to Spokane shortly thereafter. After attending Kinman Business School, she found temporary work until receiving a job offer from Cominco Fertilizer.
During her working years at Cominco Fertilizer and other companies, Carol held several positions, beginning with receptionist and advancing to shipping clerk, and to purchasing manager. She retired from Honeywell Electronic Materials in 2004.
Carol lived in the Spokane area for over 55 years, most of them in a home that she worked constantly to improve. She especially enjoyed working in her large back yard, planting many flowers and a vegetable garden. She enjoyed playing golf, skiing, playing tennis and pinochle with her many friends.
Carol enjoyed traveling. Trips with family and friends took her to Ireland/England, Alaska, the Panama Canal, Hawaii and the East coast for autumn leaf time. There were many trips to her home in Montana, to visit her parents and for family reunions.
Carol was very active in the Lutheran church. She held many volunteer leadership positions and was considered to be the “go to” person if something needed to be done. She was involved with the worship and hospitality teams, coordinated weddings and memorials, decorated the church during the various seasons, and welcomed new members.
In August 2013, Carol was diagnosed with cancer and had the first of several surgeries, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Throughout all of her surgeries and related procedures, Carol maintained an amazingly positive attitude. She always said that “the good Lord isn’t finished with me yet!” and maintained a good quality of life. After a short stay at the Hospice House in Spokane, she passed away.
Carol is survived by her brother Jack and his wife Linda from St. Ignatius, her brother Bill and his wife Cheryl from Renton, Wash. and their families. The family would like especially to thank everyone who supported Carol through the most difficult time in her life.
Memorial service will be held at Advent Lutheran Church on Saturday, January 21, 2017. Burial of her ashes will be at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge in the summer of 2017.
Remembrances can be made to Advent Lutheran Church, Lutheran Community Services, SCRAPS or Spokane Valley Partners.
Paul Martin of Mount Sterling, Ohio passed away Wednesday, December 21, 2016. He was living his Montana dream riding horses, fishing, hunting, riding side by side in the mountains. He loved to carve walking sticks and give them to people that needed them. He donated most of his other carvings for charity.
He is survived by his wife Linda Martin, sister Susie Martin, brother Billie Martin, daughters Mamie Sheets, Paula Guevara; step-sons Herbert and Shawn Clark; grandchildren Bethany, Alexis, Makayla, Shelby, Katie, Nikki, Zachary and Jacob Clark, Jesse Hancel Schelby, Ashton, December Sheets, Ivy Donielle, Chico Guevara; four great-grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday, January 14 at 1 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center.
Tina Michelle Vaughn
Tina Michelle Vaughn, beloved daughter and sister has been called home to be with the Lord. She passed away December 13, 2016 and was born May 11, 1968. She is survived by parents Ronald Sr. and Anna Vaughn, and brother Ronald Jr., of Deer Lodge. Burial was at Hillcrest Cemetery.
Elizabeth “Betty” Evangeline Conat
Elizabeth “Betty” Evangeline Conat, age 81, of International Falls, Minn., died Monday, January 2, 2017 at her home.
Elizabeth was born on April 7, 1935 in Dance Township, Ontario to Elmer and Emily (Rissman) Lang. She grew up in Dance Township and graduated from Fort Frances High School. The former Elizabeth Lang was united in marriage to Leslie Conat on November 14, 1953. After their marriage they moved to International Falls in 1953. In 1962 the family moved to Deer Lodge and in 1974 returned to International Falls. She worked at the Falls Good Samaritan Center for several years.
Elizabeth enjoyed knitting, crocheting, sewing and collecting cookie jars.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Leslie T. Conat; sons, Terry and Jack Conat; brother, Art Lang, and special friend, William (Swede) Long.
Elizabeth is survived by sons, Art (Jolene) Conat of Wenatchee, Wash., Ron (Lisa) Conat, Les (Toni) Conat, all of International Falls; daughters, Shirley (Stuart Hunter) Mishow of Sartell, Minn., Kathleen (Don) Heppner, Jr. of Grand Forks, N. D.; 13 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; three sisters, Arleen Pollard of Dryden, Ontario, Eleanor Van Diest of Vancouver, British Columbia, Aleata Jerry of Devlin, Ontario, and special friend, Carmen.
A memorial gathering will be held on April 8, 2017 at a place to be announced.
Condolences may also be left at www.greenlarsen.com.
Barbara Sue Blodgett
Former resident Barbara Sue Blodgett, 81, passed peacefully with family at her home in Gilbert, Ariz. on 12/31/16. She was under the care of home hospice for renal failure.
She was born at home on April 22, 1935 in Bancroft, Nebr. She married Harry “Bud” Blodgett in 1952 which preceded her in death in 2009.
Survivors include her daughters Chloe Lynn Roberts-Mills and Antoinette Blodgett, Gilbert, Ariz.; son Greg (Melinda) Blodgett, Fair Oaks, Calif.; Matthew (Hunter) Blodgett and family, Butte; granddaughter Amanda (Anthony) Munoz and family, Mesa, Ariz. Children Gary, Joseph, Mark and grandson Jayson preceded her in death. She had eight grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
You are not forgotten loved one
Nor will you ever be,
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
We miss you now, our hearts are sore,
As time goes by we will miss you more,
Your loving smile, your gentle face,
No one can fill your vacant place.
Rest in peace with the LORD.
James (Jim) Michael Hadley
James (Jim) Michael Hadley passed away on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at his home outside of Deer Lodge at the age of 77.
Jim was born February 13, 1939 to Raymond and Helen Hadley in Marmarth, N.D. In his early years Jim worked construction jobs across the state of Montana and then had a career change, becoming a long haul truck driver for 25 years until his retirement. He loved being out on the road meeting new people and seeing new places. With his outgoing personality and sense of humor Jim never met a person that he couldn’t become friends with. He also had a love for tractors and after his retirement spent many hours restoring his old Farmalls that he was very proud of.
Through his marriages Jim had five children Patti, Mike, Teresa, Billy, and Darcy, four grandchildren Jason, Sean, Megan, and Hannah and two great-grandchildren Ryder and Hadley Jo.
Jim was preceded in death by parents Raymond and Helen, sons Mike and Billy, grandson Jason, and his wife of 28 years Betty.
Survivors are brothers Jack (Carolyn) Hadley of Baker, Bob Hadley of Marmarth, N.D., daughters Patti (Les) Herbert, Seeley Lake, Teresa Hadley, Columbia Falls, Darcy (Kam) Hadley, Red Lodge, his grandchildren Sean Hadley, Megan (Shane) Gibson, and Hannah Hadley as well as his two great-grandchildren Ryder and Hadley Jo Gibson. Also surviving are five nephews and their families who he loved dearly.
Services will be held at a later date in Deer Lodge.
Montana State Prison inmate Donald Azure died on Sunday, January 1, 2017 of an extended illness at the Lewistown Infirmary in Lewistown. Mr. Azure was 79 years old.
Mr. Azure was sentenced out of Cascade County in 1997 for the crimes of Deliberate Homicide and Criminal Endangerment both committed with a dangerous weapon. Mr. Azure was sentenced to Montana State Prison for a total of 122 years. He would have been parole eligible in 2027.