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.