Donald Edward Jarvenpaa, 77, a retired high-voltage lineman, farmer and rancher, died at 10:17 a.m. May 17, 2013, in the Billings Clinic Intensive Care Unit, where he had spent his last 17 days following emergency surgery for an aortic aneurysm.
He was born to Frank Edward and Jean Marie Jarvenpaa on Oct. 28, 1935, in Detroit, Mich. He was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 20, which led to 15 orthopedic surgeries over the past 40 years.
He graduated from Cass Tech High School in Detroit in 1954 and began working at General Motors. He joined the Air Force and was stationed as a radar technician at the Cut Bank Radar Base in 1958. He married Christe Violet Hanson in 1960 and completed Air Force duty in 1962.
In 1963, he became a high-voltage lineman with Glacier Electric Co-op. In 1964, Mr. and Mrs. Jarvenpaa bought the Crooked Nail just north of Cut Bank on Cut Bank Creek. They expanded their holdings to 1,200 acres and paid it off in 20 years, working as farmers and ranchers on evenings and weekends.
He was promoted to operating superintendent for the last 10 years of his career, which ended in 1992. By this time, the farm and ranch production had been leased out and later placed in the Conservation Reserve Program.
He became caregiver to his wife, who died of cancer in 2000. He then assisted in the care of his former supervisor and friend, Warren Evers, Mr. Evers’ wife, Anne, and finally his sister-in-law, Sharon Hanson Ghidelli.
In recent years, he had wintered in Roberts near his son’s vacation rental.
Survivors include sons, Frank of Roberts and James Christopher of San Francisco, Calif.; sisters, Ella Gibson of Port Huron, Helen Glenby of Long Island, N.Y., and Carol Hayes of Kalamazoo, Mich.; and three stepgrandchildren.
Services will be at 4 p.m. May 25 at Roberts Methodist Church. A dual service for him and his wife will be held in late June at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Cut Bank. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Family condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 2, Roberts, MT 59070. Memorials may be sent to the Roberts Café, P.O. Box 58, Roberts, MT 59070, to help provide “home cooked” meals to those in need.