Janet Elaine Barkhoff August 12, 1953 - October 15, 2022
Janet Elaine Barkhoff, 69, of Deer Lodge died Oct. 15 from medical problems. Janet was born Aug. 12, 1953, in Columbia Falls, Mont. She was the second child of six born to Melvin and Patricia Stevens. She married Art Barkhoff, and they were together for over 40 years. She had two children, Tom Elmose (Angelena) and Erin Barkhoff (Jerry Good). She had three grandchildren: Zoe, Kaley, Jerry. They were the love of her life. They grew up poor children, but Janet was rich with goodness of heart and caring. When they were young their dad would take them to Grammas and Roy’s. Janet would tear into her uncle Roy, so he called her a wildcat. All the family loved her and her stamina. Janet was preceded in death by her father, Melvin Stevens; brother, Daniel Stevens; and her sister, Terry Vorhes. She is survived by her children; grandchildren; mother, Patricia Stevens; three sisters, Cathy Jennings (Steve), Vickie Downard, Christine Phichter; and brother-in-law, Terry Vorhes. We will love you always. She was quite a character. Services for Janet were held Oct. 24. Please visit longfellowfinneganriddle.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Janet. Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Janet and her family.
Delia Pierce May 8, 1970 - September 26, 2022
Delia Pierce, 52, died Monday, Sept. 26. She was born May 8, 1970. She was a kind and loving sister, daughter and friend. Her great nieces, Abigal Granthum, Ember Seitzinger, and great nephew, Ben, all called her Grandma. She played that role with great pleasure. Delia was a loving mother to her nephews Cody Grantham, Christopher Pierce and niece, Jessica Pierce. She loved them as though they were her own. Delia enjoyed cooking, entertaining her family and camping. She is survived by Elizabeth (Betty) Stone, Tina Pierce, Joseph Pierce, Karl Pierce, Irma Marrell, Patrick Pierce and Rosa Pierce, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ernest Sr. and Evelyn Pierce; sister, Eva Pierce; brothers, Evan, Ernest Pierce Jr, Blaine, Cliff; and her beloved niece, Jessica. She is, and always will be loved.
Veronica Candace “Khandi” Gersitz Tomsheck October 29, 1963 - September 27, 2022
Khandi, 58, was born October 29, 1963, in Elizabeth, N.J., to Gerald and Maureen Gersitz. In 1964 the family moved to Deer Lodge to be closer to family. Khandi was raised in Deer Lodge and worked in different places in her earlier life. While living in Butte with her sister Debi, Khandi saw an ad to become a nanny to two children, as she loved children dearly. Khandi and Debi drove to Sunburst to become a nanny and never left. While in Sunburst, she met her future husband, Rex, and they were married Feb. 28, 1987. They became a family of four. Rex had two children, and so did Khandi. They also became foster parents and adopted two beautiful girls. Their family was complete, with a total of six children. Khandi worked several jobs – group homes, assisted living and home health. She was passionate about caring for others, especially the elderly and disabled. She also worked in restaurants and successfully ran a restaurant. One of Khandi’s deepest passions and greatest memories was camping with family. Every year in July, the family camp trip, hosted in different locations around Montana, brought Khandi much joy. She got to spoil her grandbabies and enjoy being around family. The family also enjoyed the frybread that was Khandi’s specialty. This love of camping was sparked by her mother, as she took her family camping as often as possible. Khandi’s dream was to become a camp host, and in the summer of 2022, Khandi got her dream job at Dry Wolf campground in the Little Belt Mountain area. Her dream was cut short due to illness. Khandi was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) on Sept. 13, and died Sept. 27, with family by her side at Peace Hospice in Great Falls. Khandi leaves behind her loving husband of 35 years, Rex Tomsheck. She is survived by her six children, Jeremy (Amber), Ed (Kris), Cindy (Briar), Sheena (George), Jessica and Satyn; fourteen grandchildren; two great-granddaughters with a third on the way; her brother, Karl (Heidi); her sisters, Debi (George) and Suzi (Don); many nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family members. She is preceded in death by her mother, Maureen Walter; brother, Mark Moody; grandparents, Clyde and Fern McCleary Harvey and Emma Rodgers; and her in-laws, Robert and Ethel Tomsheck. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Lutheran Church of Sunburst and can also be viewed on the church’s Facebook page. Thank you for all the well wishes and cards the family has received. They are very appreciated during this time. Condolences can be made to www.asperfh.com.
David Alvin Thomas, Sr. July 11, 1922 - October 7, 2022
David Alvin Thomas, Sr., 100, father of three, former Navy sailor, hard-rock miner and bartender, died a peaceful death Oct. 7 while living at the Southwest Montana Veteran’s Home in Butte. He is survived by his three children, Danny Griffith Thomas (Wasilla, Alaska), David A. Thomas, Jr., (Ogden, Utah) and Carol White (Newcastle, Wyo.). He has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Dave attended Butte High School and later, in January 1941, he joined the Navy. While aboard the USS Helena, he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Guadalcanal and the sinking of the Helena in the Battle of Kula Gulf. A few minutes before the Japanese attacked Pear Harbor, Dave was swabbing the deck of the Helena with another sailor. The balmy Honolulu weather allowed the men to mop in their skivvies. When the general alarm sounded, his shipmate said he was going below deck to put on clothes. Dave stayed on deck. His shipmate didn’t return. An exploding torpedo had killed him. After the Helena was sunk at Kula Gulf, Dave, who couldn’t swim, floated for five hours at night in the oil stained ocean before being rescued. Japanese subs were circling, listening for the cries for help from floating, often wounded, sailors. One of the Japanese ships shelling the Helena, the Amagiri, was the same ship that rammed John F. Kennedy’s PT 109. Later, at a medal ceremony Dave got to shake General Douglas McArthur’s hand. McArthur, seeing him in a tee-shirt and shorts, promised him a new uniform. He was happy about this news until he learned he had to pay for the new clothing. Later he was part of a PT boat crew stationed in the Aleutian Islands. In November 1946, with the rank of gunner’s mate first class, he was honorably discharged. Dave mined coal at Klein, chrome at Nye, phosphate at Garrison. He tended bar in Roundup, Bozeman, Lima, Dillon, Sheridan and Deer Lodge. He loved bartending. He said he loved hearing people’s stories. When tending bar in Dillon, he liked to listen to the sheep ranchers and their herders talk about their business deals and their lives. He gave bottles of cheap wine to the down-on-their luck herders. He took in abused dogs from PAWHS, the Deer Lodge humane society. He trained them. He showed the dogs that they could be loved and that they now had nothing to fear. We thank Mary Newman, Dave’s caretaker, the apple of his eye, for her friendship and emotional support to him. His landlords, Bonnie and Issie Juarez, cared for him when Mary couldn’t. Dave Littlefield did dozens of plumbing and electrical repair jobs on his trailer. Dennis Pritchard checked in on him and hauled firewood to his porch. Kenny and Arleta Fenner made him homemade soup when he was sick. Amy, his favorite bartender at the Corner Bar, insured he’d plenty of firewood. We thank the staff at the Butte Veteran’s Home. Registered nurses Mary and Julie, CNAs Codi, Jordan and Candy professionally nursed Dave and guided us through the dying process. We thank former vet’s home CNA Nicole and home-care specialist Emma for coming in on their off-duty time to attend to Dave. The friendliness of Butte people is boundless. Dave often didn’t see eye to eye with his children. In life and so often in death, things can become messy, they can be complicated. Norman Maclean, in “A River Runs Through It,” said everyone will look upon a loved one and ask the same question: “We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.” Nightly, Dave prayed for his children. He loved them completely, the best he could love, without complete understanding. Dave wanted a party and not a funeral. So on his 101st birthday, July 11, 2023, there will be a military honor ceremony at Hillcrest Cemetery and later an all-you-can-eat party. Both events will be announced in the Silver State Post in June.
Alwin “Buster” Cook December 11, 1951- October 7, 2022
Heaven has gained another angel. Alwin “Buster” Cook, 70, died Oct. 7, 2022, from a heart attack. Buster was born Dec. 11, 1951, in Sidney, Mont., to Melissa (Sipe) Brodhead and Price Cook. He grew up on a farm outside of Grassy Butte, N.D., with his older siblings, Roger, Gene, Frances and Marie. Buster married the love of his life, Phyllis, on Sept. 28, 1975. Together they have three children: Dixie, Trenady and Anena. Buster and Phyllis had just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. The family moved around due to Buster being a mechanic and working in the oil fields. The family lived in several different states (Montana, North Dakota, Washington, Arizona, Nevada). He finally settled in Hadley, Nev., in 1995. Buster and Phyllis lived there for 27 years. He loved being in Hadley; he could take his quad and ride for hours. He could go camping within minutes of his home. Buster was a Master Mechanic; he could fix anything and rebuild an engine without any books or help from anyone. For those who knew him, knew he could go on for hours about what cars he built and what engines were in them. He could tell stories like no other. He loved to joke with his wife, kids and grandkids.He always thought outside the box and would be able to come up with ideas to make camping or anything he did enjoyable. He is preceded in death by both parents, his brothers Roger and Gene. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; siblings, Frances (Ken) Groff of Green Valley, Ariz., Marie Cook of Round Mountain, Nev.; his children, Dixie Cook (Scott), Trenady (Danielle) Cook, Anena (Steve) McKellip; his grandchildren, Ty Cook, Adriana (Jeff) Buchanan, Stephany McKellip (Ryan), Trent McKellip, Cristofer James. Buster will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
Fredrick L. Raihl, born Sept. 2, 1956, died Sept. 7, 2022. Obituary to come later.
Derek James LaTray January 10, 1985 - October 3, 2022
Derek James LaTray, 37, died unexpectedly on Oct. 3, 2022. He was born into this world Jan. 10, 1985, in Deer Lodge. He moved to Oregon where he spent the next 14 years with his mom, Terry; his sister, Desiree; and brother, Trace. At 14 he came back to Deer Lodge and lived with his grandparents, Pat and Harold LaTray, before settling in with his other mom, Sheila Zachary. Through his high school years, D.J. spent a lot of time working in the family meat shop until he found his way to Anaconda Job Corps. He graduated with certificates in welding and carpentry. Later on he started working at Montana State Hospital, where he made a lot of friends and enjoyed working with the people there. D.J. was an avid gamer and spent his free time playing Xbox and meeting new friends from all over the world. Dom was his best friend and the perfect dog for him. He was preceded in death by his mom, Terry; grandma Pat; uncle Duck; and aunts, Sandy and Wanda. He is survived by his father, James; grandfather Harold; aunts, Sheila, Jennifer, Lila and Debbie; uncles, Butch and Dale; sisters, Heather, Cassie, Desiree, Dallas, Terilyn, Kirsten and Carol; brothers, Trace, Justin, John and Nathan; nephews, Dominic, Blake and Hunter; nieces, Justice, Hope, Bailey and Paige. He is also survived by his good friend, Martin, as well as countless cousins and other friends. We all saw D.J. for the giant teddy bear with a huge heart that he was. While he could never seem to see his shine, we were all blinded by it. Our world will be a little emptier without him, but our love will never end. Cremation has already taken place and a celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Sheila’s house, 1004 Oregon, in Deer Lodge. It’s a potluck, so everyone is invited to bring a dish and your stories about Derek.
Mary Grayce (Bisch) Hoppe July 3 1930 - September 26, 2022
Mary Grayce (Bisch) Hoppe, 92, came into this world like a little firecracker on July 3, 1930. Her parents, John and Helen Bisch, celebrated when their red-headed baby girl survived the difficult pregnancy. She grew up in constant motion, talkative and independent. She left this world with a hint of red hair on Sept. 26, 2022, at Deer Lodge Medical Center with her children surrounding her during her last days. Being raised on a farm in Cleveland, Minn., gave Mary a strong work ethic and strong arms as she hauled buckets of water into the house. With five brothers and one dear sister, she learned to stand her ground and speak her mind. As a young girl, she entertained her family by reciting the lines and songs of performances she had seen only once. Attending Good Counsel Academy in Mankato for a year of high school was a wonderful memory for Mary. When she returned to Cleveland High School to graduate, her classmates voted her “Best All-Around Girl.” She attended college for a year at Mankato State and then worked as a dental assistant and at Walgreens soda fountain with her brother Harold. One of Mary’s favorite stories was from when she was working a summer job at the Jolly Green Giant Canning Plant. She mentioned to a coworker that one of the workers was very handsome. Her coworker Alvera said, “That’ s my brother.” She introduced them and thus began their journey. Earl and Mary were married, Aug. 15, 1951. When Earl returned from the Korean War, they set up a home in Mankato, where he began his career as a carpenter. Mary’s high energy was put to use as they raised five boys and four girls who became responsible people with not one known outlaw among them. She was a loving, generous mother who was very proud of her children. Mary raised her family in the Catholic faith with Holy water being sprinkled as they left the house. She fiercely defended her children and taught them to stand up for their rights and do the right thing. Not having a driver’s license until she was 47, she got her children to appointments using public transportation, got them to church every Sunday, kept a clean house and cooked delicious meals. Her family appreciated her famous potato salad, bread pudding, chicken n’ dumplings and angel food cake with strawberries. Mary loved to shop and find a good bargain. Her creative side could be seen when she would perform Christmas plays, sing, make bookmarks, cards, decorate cakes, write dozens of letters and an occasional newspaper article. Mary’s outfits were colorful. As an ambitious decorator, she stripped the woodwork and painted the dining room purple, while pregnant. She added special touches to any presentation. In 1975 Earl and Mary packed up the house and kids, and started a new life a mile outside of Deer Lodge. Mary loved many things about Montana: the view of Mount Powell; picking huckleberries, chokecherries and elderberries to make jams and wine; the chickens in the yard and selling their eggs to her many friends; walking the country roads at a fast pace, and small-town life. Once she got her driver’s license and a purple car with the plates, “PRPL LDY,” many opportunities opened up. She took on a career as the Welcome Wagon representative, which was perfect for a friendly lady who liked to chat. She joined the Women’s Club and the American Legion Sunshine Committee. Mary was now able to shop on her own schedule and go to church any day of the week. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was an important part of her spiritual and social life. She loved to sing in church, relax in the Peace Garden with her friends and dress up as a Pilgrim to greet people at the Thanksgiving Feast. On Aug. 15, 2021, she and Earl celebrated their 70th and last wedding anniversary with their children. Earl died Dec. 12, 2021, and she missed him very much. To cheer her up, her children would take her to 4Bs to have some good laughs over coffee and her favorite lemon meringue pie. We will miss her feisty spirit, her long telephone monologues, her wisdom and her humor, among many things. Her words will always be in our mind and her love is forever in our hearts. Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Earl Harry Hoppe; her parents, John and Helen Bisch; her brothers, Harold, Robert, Stanley and Allie Bisch; her sister, Lorretta Curran; and Godmother Grayce Vaughn. She is survived by her children, Allen (Sue) Hoppe in Shoreview, Minn., Mary (Jerry) Stringer in Helena, Connie Girard in Deer Lodge, Gwen Hoppe (Jim Day) in Missoula, Terry (Katrina Gennis) Hoppe in Greenough, Jerry (Marie)Hoppe in Cheney, Wash., Roseanne Hoppe in Anchorage, Alaska, Charlie (Anne-Marie) Hoppe in Sparks, Nev., John (Kirsten) Hoppe in Anchorage; her 100-year-old brother Lawrence Bisch in St. Paul, Minn.; sisters-in-law Dorothy Bisch of Minnesota, and Alvera Carufel in Hastings, Minn. Mary was very proud of her 23 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, some who called her Aunt Wow. Her oldest niece, Faye Bisch, was able to talk to her on her last days. A rosary will be held at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 605 Clark St., Deer Lodge, and a Funeral Mass at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 29. Burial will take place immediately after the funeral; the reception will follow at St. Mary’s Hall, which is adjacent to the church. Condolences can be sent to 134 Pasture Lane, Deer Lodge, MT 59722. The family would like to thank those who cared for her at her home and in the hospital, and the many community members who greeted her while she was shopping.
David Alvin Thomas Jr. died Friday, Oct. 7 of natural causes while living at the Southwest Montana Veteran’s Home in Butte. A longer obituary is forthcoming.
Donald Robert Beck November 16, 1945 - September 23, 2022
Donald Robert Beck, 76, died Sept. 23, 2022, at his home in Gold Creek surrounded by family and friends. He was born in Deer Lodge on Nov. 16, 1945, to Don “Bud” and Irene Beck, the oldest of eight children. Don graduated from Powell County High School in 1964. He then attended Montana State University where he studied math for 2 years. Don was exceptional at math and would always help his kids with their homework whether it was at the high school or college level. He then went to flying school in Billings for six months before returning home to work on the family ranch at Galen. The next fall he went to Great Falls and instructed at a flight school. Don loved flying and owned a small plane that he did some unorthodox maneuvers in over the years. He had no problem landing on the highway to stop at the ranch to pick up his kids, shooting coyotes only a few feet above the ground or spotting elk for local hunters. A lot of his passengers were pretty white knuckled when they landed, but he always put her down “shiny side up.” Don attended the Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood, Calif., and studied aerospace engineering before again returning home to help on the ranch. He was drafted into the Air Force on Aug. 15, 1968, and was stationed at Atwater, Calif., tasked to the civil engineering squadron. While Don was away, his father was in a serious vehicle collision, and Don applied for and was granted a hardship discharge so he could go home and help his family on the ranch. He married Jeannie M. Nelson on Sept. 9, 1972, and moved to the ranch at Garrison. It was there that they raised their four children: Dana, Maggie, Brandy and Don Jr. Don took his kids with him to work on the ranch and on many adventures over the years. They learned a lot of valuable lessons through the school of hard knocks. Jeannie died in 1995, and Don was looking forward to being reunited with her again after his death. Don was a true outdoorsman and sportsman, and enjoyed hunting and hiking mountain peaks. He guided for Tom Villeneuve from 1970-1979 in the Pintler Mountain range and helped harvest many elk, deer, bear, big horn sheep and moose over the years. Don had a firearms license and was like a little kid in a candy store when he got to help any of his customers find the perfect gun. He also had an explosives license, giving him the ability to buy dynamite…I think he may be part of the reason why the screening is so tough to get a license today. Don blew up a lot of beaver dams and could send a tire hundreds of feet in the air just to show off. Don later moved to the ranch at Gold Creek and continued ranching and raising cattle. He made a lot of good friends over the years and rarely missed break time with his good friend Dave Yoder and crew. Don employed a lot of young men to work alongside him through the years, and they all left with gratitude for Don and some valuable life lessons. Don enjoyed work and was eager to teach his young hired men a good work ethic that they could carry with them through their lives. He enjoyed boxing in his younger years and won a lot of his bouts. Don would go to the prison to spar with the inmates and teach them the art of boxing. They too learned a lot from Don; not just about boxing but also about hard work and putting in a solid effort if they wanted to succeed. Don served on the Garrison School Board and was an active member of the Garrison Fire Department. Don would help anyone in need whether it was to lend advice, borrow money or pull them out of the ditch…if you asked, Don would be there. Don kept a list of many of his friends and family’s birthdays and would give each person a call every year to say happy birthday and check in on them. Don is survived by his four children: Dana Beck (Ron McDonald), Maggie Beck, Brandy (Jim) Davis and Don (Melanie) Beck. He has two grandchildren that were the highlight of his life: Gizelle Irene and Donald Henry (Ole). He has seven siblings: Nancy Jean, Sharon Louise, Peg, Ted (Julie), Pam (Rick) Hirsch, Jann (Kris) Kerpa and Dave. Don also has many nieces, nephews and cousins. Don was preceded in death by his wife, Jeannie; his parents, Bud and Irene Beck; his grandparents; and his nephews, Zane Beck, Johnny Delaughder and Doug D’Arcy. Graveside services were Saturday, Oct. 1, at Hillcrest Cemetery in Deer Lodge, followed by a celebration of life in Garrison. Memorial donations can be made to the Garrison or Gold Creek fire departments, Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers Association or to the donor’s choice. “No hurries, no worries” Don Beck
Rodney Gene Brown February 7, 1958 - October 1, 2022
Rodney Gene Brown, 64, died peacefully at his home in Deer Lodge, surrounded by his loving family on Oct. 1, 2022. Rod was born on Feb. 7, 1958, in Deadwood, S.D., to Ralph and Verna Brown. The family moved to Deer Lodge when Rod was in second grade. He married the love of his life, Mary Pat Morris, on May 26, 1979. They shared 43 years of marriage before his passing. Rod and Mary Pat were blessed with three wonderful children: Tricia, Mike and Krissy. Rod had many jobs throughout his life, but the career that chose him was logging, which he did for over 43 years. He was often referred to as “Super Saw,” a nickname that was truly fitting for this amazing man. Rod was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a very proud and faithful member of the Catholic Church that he joined nine years ago. He also loved to golf and spend time at his favorite place, “The Cabin,” with his family gathering firewood, sitting around the campfire, four-wheeling and riding snow machines. Building the cabin at Georgetown was a true labor of love for his family. Family was Rod’s true passion, and he loved them fiercely. There wasn’t a better husband, dad and pa out there. He attended all of his children’s extracurricular activities as well as his grandchildren’s. He was a friend to many and would have given the shirt off his back to anyone. The world was a better place with Rod in it, and he will be truly missed. Rod is survived by his wife, Mary Pat Brown; his children, Tricia Witt (Darrell), Mike Brown of Deer Lodge, and Krissy Petersen (Jeremiah) of Missoula; his brothers, Randy Brown (Marie), Ron Brown; sisters, Teresa Launderville (Joe), Karen Knutson, all of Deer Lodge; Pam Duffy (Roy) of Anaconda, and Janice Brown of Elliston; and his brother-in-law, Gene Morris. Grandchildren: Brett and Taryn Witt; Jacob, Michael and Kobe Brown; Kaylee McQueary, Joe Lowery and Maysa Petersen. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Verna Brown; his sister, Virginia Gilcrest; and his in-laws, Mike and Barbara Morris. Words cannot express how much Pa will be missed; we love you so much! Recitation of the Rosary will be held at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 605 Clark St., Deer Lodge. A Vigil will immediately follow at 7 p.m. at the church. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, at Immaculate Conception Church, with a luncheon to follow at St. Mary’s Center, 301 St. Mary’s Ave., in Deer Lodge. In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Rod are suggested to the Deer Lodge Food Pantry, 101 Milwaukee Ave., Deer Lodge, MT 59711, or to Toys for Tots (Powell County), 1115 Claggett St, Deer Lodge, MT 59722, or to a foundation of the donor’s choice. Please visit www.longfellowfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Rod.
Mary G. Hoppe died of natural causes on Sept. 26, 2022, at the Deer Lodge Medical Center. Her funeral will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Deer Lodge, with Father Joe Fleming officiating.