Patricia B. Geary
Were she here in person--and hearts from Helmville to Ireland wish with fervor she were---Patricia Eileen Bernadette Baker Geary, born March 17, 1920, would have this synopsis of her life read simply: “Thank You.” Expressing her thankfulness for the kindnesses done by many, many people drawn to her magnetic humor and unmatched hospitality became a driving motive for a woman who, at 97, drove 34 miles round trip to Lincoln to have her hair done. This just three weeks before she left this earthly plane on June 15, 2017. Cautioned once by her daughter that there might come a day the car keys would be relinquished, Pat quipped, “No. I’ll drive to the cemetery and you bring the car home.” To the young patrolman who pulled her over for speeding at 80 (yes, both age and speed) she admonished, “I hope your grandmother is proud of you!” Sometime after her 85th birthday, Pat would jokingly reference her time in Saint Thomas Church as “cramming for finals.” She didn’t say “death,” preferring “conclusion,” a more fitting word for something “to be continued.”
Pat met her husband John T. “Jack” Geary on stage in Butte during rehearsals for a co-ed theatrical production featuring students from Girls’ Central high school and boys from Christian Brothers’ high. Years later, on a romantic lane in Butte, Jack knelt to propose. The demure, red-headed love of his life immediately proclaimed, “Hell yes!” Henceforth they laughingly called that lane the “Hell Yes! Road.”
Accomplished musician, Pat would, on any given Saturday night in the Blackfoot Valley, pull pep and pluck from even the most pathetic piano in dance gigs with the Helmville Orchestra. Come Sunday, she was at the church organ where pomp and circumstance prevailed. Should, however, this notice of her passing also serve as curriculum vitae for a position as Organist in Heaven, full disclosure by members of Saint Thomas Parish requires we admit in recent years not just a little infusion of boogie woogie began to flavor her rendering of the musical liturgy. If you haven’t heard “Ave Maria” with a backbeat, you really haven’t heard “Ave Maria.”
Educator. Pat taught grade school. She taught piano. Catechism. She taught boys to remove their hats indoors and everyone to tie up their dangling prepositions. She taught the Hokey Pokey. She taught the schottish. In each of these, she put not only her left hand in, her right hand in, she put her whole heart in and shared it all around. She quite literally taught how to live, condensing her pedagogical philosophy to the oft-repeated declaration: “You can’t have too much fun.”
She is predeceased by her husband, Jack; son-in-law Cliff Holt; grandson, Eric Holt. She is survived by daughter Michelle Holt and husband Ted Hannah, daughter Nora Myett and husband Greg, granddaughter (cribbage and cruise partner) Heather Holt, grand-daughter-in-law Tammy Holt, three great-grandchildren--Jeremiah, Sierra and Bridger Holt-- many Baker and McDonnell kin and her dear dog, Taffy. Hers was such a big, welcoming personality, 14 nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren, the kind people of Helmville, Ovando, Lincoln, Deer Lodge and Butte also must be listed as saddened survivors.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But who raises the village? Patricia Eileen Bernadette Baker Geary raised us up to the dance floor. She raised us up at the mass recessional. She raised the standard for desserts. She raised more eyebrows than Groucho Marx. If you are among the kind, caring staff of Saint Patrick’s Hospital or Kalispell Regional Medical Center whom she invited to the Labor Day Rodeo, let it be known the offer still stands, though the one who extended it is probably busy trying to make Saint Peter laugh and remove his hat should he show her through the Pearly Gates (which a gentleman would do.) Tell the staff at the rodeo gate: “Pat invited me.”
A vigil was held at Saint Thomas Parish, Main Street Helmville on Friday, June 23 at 8 p.m. Mass of the Resurrection was said Saturday 24 at 11 with internment immediately after at the Helmville Cemetery. A luncheon was then served at the community hall.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Helmville Chapter of the Daughters of Isabella beneficent fund, the Patricia Baker Geary scholarship fund for eighth grade graduates of the school she loved, or a local animal shelter of your choice. She’s on the Hell Yes! Road to Heaven and in classic style she’ll raise some dust. Patrolmen, doff your hats and don’t dare ask “Where were you speeding to?”
“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks; and ever thanks...” Shakespeare
Fredrick Witt died peacefully surrounded by his loving family at the Deer Lodge Medical Center on June 20, 2017 in Deer Lodge at the age of 85.
Fred was born on June 21, 1932 in the family home, a little cabin at Lake Como in the Bitterroot Valley to Fredrick and Esther Witt. He married the love of his life Lucille Enebo on October 3, 1954. Fred proudly served for four years in the United States Navy. While in the Korean War, Fred was assigned to whale boats that were used to rescue pilots that had been shot down during combat. Fred and Lucille were blessed with three children, Carol and the twins Darrell and Duane. For two and a half years they all lived in Avery, Idaho where Fred worked as a Lineman for the Milwaukee Railroad. In 1960, Fred was transferred to Deer Lodge and became the Line Foreman for the Milwaukee Railroad. Fred and Lucille also owned and operated the Sears store in Deer Lodge for approximately seven years. Fred loved his family very much and enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and traveling around the state in their motorhome. He especially loved prospecting with Uncle Nels Rome. Fred was a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church and the Elks Lodge.
Fred is survived by his wife Lucille Ingrid Witt, Carol Abbott (Dennis), Darrell Witt (Tricia) and Duane Witt (Sandi) all of Deer Lodge. He has six grandchildren: Heidi Abbott, Wendi Larson (Lafe), Brian Witt (Katie), Taryn Witt, all of Deer Lodge and Jessica Kostoff (Lauren) and Brett Witt of Livingston. He also has six great-grandchildren: Dace McQueary, Corynn Abbott, Dakota and Clayton Larson, and Kyzer and Tyzen Kostoff. He is preceded in death by his parents and sisters.
There was a viewing at the Jewell Funeral Home in Deer Lodge on Monday, June 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 11 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Deer Lodge, with a reception that followed at the Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the St. John’s Lutheran Church, Deer Lodge Elks, or a charity of your choice. Fred will be missed by all.
William Robert (Rob) Ayers
William Robert (Rob) Ayers passed away June 8, 2017. Born in Deer Lodge on August 21, 1964 to Margaret Hughley Ayers and Edward Ayers, Rob had a love of family and the outdoors, a heart of gold, and compassion and kindness above reproach. He was always there to lend a hand and helped people whenever asked.
Rob’s intelligence was only matched by his endearing personality. Rob lived a life of emotional ups and downs. He was courageous in the face of adversity and sorrow. On June 8, 2017, Rob ended his pain.
Many people commented on how he was at peace during his remaining days. For that we are grateful.
Rob graduated from Powell County High School in 1982. Shortly after, he moved to Chicago, Ill. to live with Richard and Carol Hunt. He attended Chicago State University and worked multiple service industry jobs before moving back to Montana. Rob worked for A&K construction, Louisiana Pacific, Pete Thomas plumbing and Energy Erectors. His jobs were varied, but his work ethic was unwavering, leading to many friendships throughout the years.
Rob is survived by his mother Margaret Tangen; sons Michael Delich and Ryan Ayers; brother Ed (Jackie) Ayers and sons Cody (Cortnie) and Brandon (Korri); sisters Peggy (Jim) Nesbitt and daughter Jessica (Clay) Carter; Kristin (Jason) Rohling and son Simon and daughter Nola. Rob was preceded in death by his wife Renee, father Donald Tangen, grandparents Gerald and Margaret Hughley and Eunice Connolly.
There was a Celebration of Life, on Friday, June 16, 5 p.m. at Scotty’s Bar, 719 2nd St., Deer Lodge. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://tinyurl.com/ybz67984) or a charity of your choice.
Patty Jo Coughlin
Our beautiful mom, aunt, cousin, grandma and great-grandma, Patty Jo Coughlin, peacefully danced her way through into heaven’s gate on May 14, 2017 at the age of 84. She was surrounded by her six children, grandchildren and family, as she would have wanted, always by her side while being attended to at the River Stone Hospice House, Billings, shortly after suffering a major stroke.
Mom was the second child, and only daughter, born to the union of Lionel and Thora Young on March 7, 1933, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She survived a sometimes difficult, yet colorful childhood, always by the side of her brothers Curtis, Jack and Bob Young. Mom lived part of her young life at her grandparents’ home in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and some orphanages between Idaho, Oregon and Montana. She eventually was enrolled at the St. Mary’s Academy Boarding School in Deer Lodge. Her mom, Thora, met and married Harold Scott while mom was a pre-teen. It was then that she finally felt like she truly had a dad that cared for her, Jack and Bob, where she enjoyed her teenage years, Powell County High School and where her lifelong friends remained throughout her life. Patty Jo was a vivacious, beautiful person, with a joyous heart, who enjoyed being a member of the high school chorus, cheerleader, dancer extraordinaire, and later involved with the singing group called the Sweet Adelines. She even had the extraordinary privilege and honor of performing at Carnegie Hall which was always a dream of hers.
In 1950, mom met and married William Gerald (Gerry) Coughlin beginning their family together and settling in Deer Lodge. There they raised six amazing children. She was a member of the Womans Club Chorus, loved playing bridge with her friends, was an active member of the Immaculate Conception Parish, attended countless sporting events and school programs of all six kids. After our dad (Gerry) passed away in 1975, mom took a part-time job working as a teacher’s aid in the Deer Lodge school system. It was a job that fit her well. She loved working with the children and teachers and had a true heart for kids who were less fortunate.
To say that mom loved and adored her family was an understatement. She enjoyed holiday dinners, barbeques and family events and spending time with each of her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She adored her brothers Curtis and Bob, but was especially fond of her brother Jack. Mom had a very special relationship with her niece Sandy (Young) Jacke.
Patty Jo was an avid reader and was known to read up to five different books at a time. She frequented the Billings library so often she was even given her own parking place! Mom was a very active person enjoying her volunteer time at the Billings Senior Center, pursuing her nephew, Jeff Young, to go dancing, working in her special “she shed”, shopping for her next “iron skillet dinner”, and dreaming of all the things she was going to do next.
Patty Jo is survived by sons, Mike (Vickie) Coughlin of Anaconda, Eric Coughlin from Woodenville, Wash., and Conn Coughlin of Deer Lodge. Daughters Marcy (Cora) Coughlin, Sherry Coughlin of Billings and Meg (Mike) Springer of Bozeman. She had 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren with one on the way, many nieces & nephews, a number of other relatives and close friends.
Rosary will be said on Friday, June 23 at 7 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Deer Lodge. A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday June 24 at 11 a.m. followed by a luncheon at the St. Mary’s Center with graveside services to follow at 2 p.m. The family requests that memorial donations can be sent in Patty Jo’s name to River Stone Hospice House, 123 S 27th St, Billings, MT 59101.
Mom, it’s time for you to get ready and “boogie to town”! We love you and will miss you!
Stephen Andrew Pearson
We mourn the loss of our brother, Stephen Andrew Pearson, who passed away May 24, 2017 in Billings.
Steve was born November 12, 1971 in Helena, while his family lived in Townsend. When he was a toddler, his family moved to Deer Lodge, where he attended grade school and junior high. The family moved to Billings in 1986. Steve attended Will James Junior High and West High School in Billings. He played multiple sports at West High and was captain of several teams. Steve was also the voice of the Bears for a couple years at West High. Steve earned athletic scholarships to Rocky Mountain College where he majored in English and played both football and basketball, earning captain positions there as well. Steve then went on to attend the University of Arizona. He stayed on in Arizona for a number of years before returning to Montana a decade ago, living in Helena and Billings.
Steve was an incredibly talented man; a gifted athlete, a wonderful writer, a beautiful singer, and an engaging actor. He loved playing, coaching, and watching sports; football in particular. He sang at many a wedding and was often asked to sing his spot-on imitations of Elvis. He wrote a play while attending Rocky that the theater department put on. In recent years, Steve shined as an actor and singer in several plays and musicals at the Grandstreet Theatre in Helena. If you feel led, please make donations in his honor to the Grandstreet Theatre.
Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Gary L. and Barbara J. (Lenington) Pearson, his brother, Ben Pearson, his brother-in-law, Jim Knudson, and his nephew, Trevor Brown. Steve is survived by his sisters, Jan Knudson of Billings and Laura Pearson of Helena, and his brothers, Gary and Elizabeth (Harmon) Pearson of Enid, Okla. and Tim and Susan (Sewell) Pearson of Maple Valley, Wash. Steve has many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews that he loved dearly.
A memorial service will be held August 26, 2017 in Billings.
David Alex Williamson
Montana State Prison inmate Williamson, David Alex died on June 6, 2017 at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Mr. Williamson was 67 years old.
Mr. Williamson was sentenced out of Yellowstone County in 2002 on two counts of Sexual Assault. Mr. Williamson was sentenced to 35 years, with a 20 year restriction on parole. The crime that Mr. Williamson was sentenced for occurred prior to 1997, therefore he was eligible for good time and would have had a prison release date of 1/13/2021.
Max Lee (Mick) McGuire
Max Lee (Mick) McGuire passed away this spring in Helena surrounded by his extended family. His mom and dad, Mary Francis and Hugh Gibson, welcomed Mick to the family on June 7, 1933. He was the seventh of eight children. The family would move to Chinook and then to Lincoln before settling in Drummond in 1949. During his years in Drummond, Mick worked on the Mac Enman Ranch and later at the Cominco American Phosphate Mine. Mick moved to Washington and while there joined the National Guard. His next move was to Helena where he was employed by Caird Iron Workers as a welder. He would later retire from Lewis and Clark County as a maintenance worker. Mick was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to target shoot, fish and hunt, and he also enjoyed playing the guitar with his brother, Stony. Mick had even taken guitar lessons from country great Charlie Pride. Mick was preceded in death by his brothers and sister-in-law Stonewall and Patricia Mae (Rosenbeck), Frederick Hays; Sterling; Gene Allen and Dorothy (Clawson); Gerald Edwin; Hugh Gibson, Jr. and Edith (Powell); Wilford Alexander. He is survived by his extended family Pauline Mininger, daughters Jeannie Davis and Chere (Greg) McCall; granddaughters Skye, Marika, Hailee, Mollee, Veronica Tenaya, Kendell. There was a graveside service with honor guard for family only on June 10 at 1 p.m. There was a reception following at the city park and the family invited friends to come and celebrate Mick’s life with them at that time.
Joan Barbara Gilman
Joan Barbara Gilman, 86, passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 28, at Deer Lodge Care and Rehabilitation, surrounded by family and caregivers.
Joan Barbara Baustadt was born on June 26, 1930, in Clyde Park, to George E. Baustadt and Myrtle (Proffitt) Baustadt. She attended schools in Clyde Park and Livingston.
She married Ronald Grant Gilman on December 27, 1948. They started out their married life in Deer Lodge and soon moved to Garrison where they lived and worked for more than 60 years. Joan was a homemaker, raising three children.
Joan was a tiny, feisty 105 lb., eyes of blue, Energizer Bunny that could run circles around just about everyone she came into contact with. Her family is quite sure that in her next life she might come back as a lawnmower. Summertime, in the outdoors, defined her. Her great passion was her gardening and yard work. Her petite body abounded in unexpected strength.
She was an excellent cook and both her and Ron were famous for their extraordinary Christmas light displays. People would flock to Garrison each holiday season to witness the magic.
Joan and Ron also worked as a team in the special carpentry and painting of wooden Yellow Ribbons for soldiers and their families during the Gulf War. The Gilman lawn sat proudly with the Yellow Ribbons standing at attention.
Joan is survived by her three children, Sandi (Howard) Stevenson of Deer Lodge, Ronnie Kitzenberg of Deer Lodge, and Les Gilman of Elko, Nev.
Grandchildren, Mark (Paula) Kitzenberg, of Billings, Josh Kitzenberg, of Billings, Samantha Kitzenberg, of Billings, and Jordan (Jake) Lowney of Draper, Utah, Howard (Sheryl) Stevenson of Deer lodge.
Great-grandchildren Sheyanne Stevenson, Deer Lodge, Katie Kitzenberg, New York, Cole Kitzenberg, Billings, and Jackson and Lily Grace Lowney of Utah. Special nephew, Cody (Rachel) Frasier lives in Billings with children Taylor and Kane. There are numerous nieces and nephews.
Joan was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Ronald, her parents, George and Myrtle, her sisters, Annalee (Norman) Smith, Betty (Jack) Kanouse, infant Helen Baustadt, and brothers, Bobby and Tommy Adams, Jimmy and Pete Baustadt.
Cremation has taken place. A special luncheon in her memory will be held on June 24 at noon at the Senior Citizen’s Center in Deer Lodge.
Donations can be sent to either the Garrison Fire Dept. or the Garrison School.
Harley L. Pitman Jr.
Harley L. Pitman Jr. passed away on May 3, 2017. The son of Harley and Nora Pitman, he was born in Seattle, Wash. on November 6, 1938. He and his family moved to Deer Lodge in the early 1950s. They lived on Rock Creek and he worked with his dad in their mine. After finishing school he left for the Navy and was active duty for two years. He then served in the Naval Reserves for 20 years. He was an accomplished pilot and flew F15 during his time in the reserves.
Harley had various jobs during his life which included being a Greyhound bus driver, a long-haul truck driver, and a heavy equipment operator.
He and his wife Helen moved to Deer Lodge in July 1992. After retiring in April 2004 he started H&H Small Engine Repair. If it was broke, he could fix it. In his spare time he enjoyed flying, camping, fishing, family and friends.
He was preceeded in death by his parents, his brother Bert, his brother-in-law Bob Chaplin and his nephew Mike Richardson.
Harley is survived by his wife of 29 1/2 years, Helen, his daughter Jodi, his son Todd, and his bonus kids Neil (Dena), Laurel (Alan), Willie (Pam), and Diane (Steve); his sisters Lorraine and Norita (Don), numerous nieces and nephews, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Burial with graveside services will be at Hillcrest Cemetery on June 10, 2017 at 11 a.m. A celebration of Harley’s life will follow at noon at the Elks Lodge in Deer Lodge.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorials be made to the Deer Lodge Elks B.P.O.E. Lodge #1737 or to a charity of your choice.