George Haider, 88, who started the Big Sky Federal Credit Union, died June 27, 2014, of lung cancer.
He was born to Michael and Mathilda Haider in St. Anthony, N.D., on Aug. 10, 1925, the eldest of three children. The family moved to Mandan, N.D., and he graduated from high school in 3 1/2 years with honors, so he could serve during World War II.
Mr. Haider served in the Philippines and his platoon was just getting ready to board a ship for the invasion of Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped. He then served in the occupation force and was honorably discharged in April 1946.
Returning to Mandan, he became the assistant manager at J.C. Penney Co. He married Marjorie Kautzman on July 7, 1947. In 1953, he was transferred to Dickinson, N.D., to help open and manage a new J.C. Penney store.
In the fall of 1954, the family moved to Billings where he worked at Snappy Foods and invested in a shoe store. In 1958, he was hired by the State Highway Department and worked there 30 years until retirement.
In the early ’60s, and Mr. Haider thought Highway Department employees would benefit by having their own credit union, so he started discussing the idea with fellow employees in their homes and often left with their investment. On Dec. 17, 1963, the Big Sky Federal Credit Union was born, and he remained secretary-treasurer for 37 years before retiring in 2000.
Mr. Haider also did income taxes for friends and bookkeeping for a few companies. He organized bowling tournaments and started a retirees’ monthly breakfast get-together that continues to this day. He missed his first meeting in 25 years last month.
Mr. Haider was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and many other organizations. He had received care from RiverStone Hospice.
Survivors include his wife; sons, Daryl and Dale; a sister, Lou Salmonsen; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass was held July 2 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be made to the Billings Catholic Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 31158, Billings, MT 59107.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:35
Mary Gill, 81, who performed in rodeos before becoming a rancher in her later years, died June 25, 2014, in Billings.
Born in 1933 in Prosser, Wash., she was an avid horsewoman in her early life and was appointed to the Queen’s Court of the Kennewick Rodeo as a teenager, representing one of eastern Washington’s largest communities. She participated in rescue riding competitions on the rodeo circuit with her father, Harold “Doc” Heady. She also was a prize-winning barrel-racer and pillar-racer.
While attending Prosser High School, she met her late husband, William “Bill” Hill. After Mr. Hill died in 1971, she married James “Jim” Gill and moved to Denton to start a new life as a rancher with him. They lived there until his death in 2007.
A few years later, Mary moved to Billings to be near her daughter, Julie Zormeir. She is also survived by a son, Neil Hill, of Redmond, Wash., and three grandchildren.
A family graveside service will be held in Denton. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association of America.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:34
Lucy Ann Gray Helsley,84, who was involved with the Child Evangelism Fellowship for many years, died June 27, 2014, after a long illness.
She was born Sept. 17, 1929, in Palo Alto, Calif., to Howard and Nora Gray. Her parents sent her to Vacation Bible school camps throughout California. She married Sheldon G. Helsley in September 1947 and they spent 52 years together.
Mr. and Mrs. Helsley moved to the Rocky Mountains just after being married to begin a church planting ministry. She served the congregation through music, teaching and hospitality.
In addition to her work with the Child Evangelism Fellowship, she wrote and published a children’s book in the two years before her death.
Survivors include a sister, Mary Gray Petzold of Howard, Colo.; three sons, Sheldon Helsley of Gillette, Wyo., Joseph E. Helsley of Seattle, Wash., and Jonathan E. Helsley of Billings; two daughters, Sandra S. Gilreath of Laurel and Gayla Y. Batie of Colstrip; 12 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Services were July 1 at Faith Evangelical Church. A private family interment was directed by Dahl Funeral Chapel at the Rockvale Cemetery.
Gifts and memorials may be sent to Child Evangelism Fellowship, South Central District of Montana; the Gideons; or the RiverStone Health Hospice House of Billings.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:34
Flora Hensel, 68, who had worked for the Yellowstone Arms Co. and the Montana Department of Labor, died of cancer on June 27, 2014.
Born Lorraine Margaret Patrick in Edinburg, Scotland, to Carroll Ann Patrick on Jan. 5, 1946, she was adopted at the age of 2 1/2 and her name was changed to Flora Marion Campbell Buchanan.
She married Richard M. Peake on May 15, 1964, immigrated to the United States that same year and settled in Bothell, Wash. After their son Clinton R. was born, the family moved to Beaverton, Ore. They later divorced.
She moved to Port Orchard, Wash., and was married to Richard E. Straley for a short time. She then moved to Bremerton, Wash., and on Dec. 7, 1974, married Robert “Bob” F. Hensel. Their son, Edward Phillip Hensel, was born the following year.
In August 1977, the family moved to Billings. Apart from three years spent in Melbourne, Fla., the family has remained there. Mrs. Hensel had worked for Tektronix Inc. in Beaverton, Ore., Pitney Bowes/Dictaphone Corp. in Melbourne, Fla., Yellowstone Arms Co. in Billings and the Montana Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Division since 2000.
She had received care from Dr. Troy Fiddler at Frontier Cancer Center and from St. Vincent Healthcare.
Survivors include Clinton Hensel, Lori, Kaitlyn, Kaci and Edward Hensel, and Rebecca, Cassiopeia, Marijayne and Wyatt.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 12, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 537 Grand Ave. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Donations may be made to the Frontier Cancer Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:33
Sandra Lee Flaten Foth, 67, who worked as a waitress for much of her life, died on June 30, 2014, after battling stage four cancer and lung disease for four months.
She was born to Clinton and Cora Flaten on Sept. 28, 1946, in Wolf Point. She attended the first eight grades at Turner School in the Prairie Elk community southwest of Wolf Point. She attended 3 1/2 years of high school in Wolf Point.
At age 18, she went to trade school in St. Louis. There she married Larry Bothe, and they had one son. They divorced around 1985, and she married Ron Foth in 1990. They moved to Montana and eventually settled in Billings.
Survivors include a son, Patrick Laurence Bothe of St. Louis, Mo.; and six siblings, Sharon Riley of Lewistown, Marlene Potts of Hewitt, Texas, Marcia Fast of Lustre, Doug Flaten of Wolf Point, Connie Charette of Billings and Dave Flaten of Glasgow.
Burial of ashes and graveside memorial services will be held July 27 in Wolf Point. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Gifts may be made to Rocky Mountain Hospice, 2110 Overland Ave., Billings, MT 59102.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:32
Gary Warren, 56, a co-manager with Energy Laboratories Inc., died June 19, 2014, at Billings Clinic.
He was born Jan. 2, 1958, to Howard and Ann Warren in Butte. He graduated from Butte High School in 1976.
Hemarried Nancy Reid in January 1976.
Mr.Warren served in theArmy before settling in Billings. He worked at Selover Buick as a mechanic before returning to school and earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry with high honors at Eastern Montana College.
He then began his career at Energy Laboratories Inc. as an analytical chemist and worked his way up to being a co-manager of the company.
He had received care from the Cancer Center at Billings Clinic.
Survivors include his wife; children, Joshua Warren, Jeremy Warren and Jodi Cranford; four grandchildren; a sister, Margie Warren-Irmen; and brothers, Bob Stewart and Ken Yates.
A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 28, at Harvest Church Heights Campus. Dahl Funeral Chapel has charge of arrangements.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:36
Beverly Jean McRae, 82, who with her husband adopted 11 children of diverse ethnic backgrounds, died in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
She was born Feb. 3, 1932, in Missoula, attended Pacific Lutheran University and lived in Wisconsin while her husband, Robert McRae, obtained his doctorate degree before finally settling back in Montana. Besides two children born to them naturally, Mr. and Mrs. McRae adopted 11 children in the 1960s.
She regularly opened her home to women’s Bible studies and played piano and organ for numerous churches.
Survivors include sisters, Doris Reich, Lorraine Moyer and Judi Dundas; her husband; children, Ross, Quentin, Kendall, Mary, Stuart, Anne, Sarah, Keith and Michelle, Kathryn and Nolan, William and Emily; 30 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Services were June 21 at First Presbyterian Church. Private family interment was in Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park. Arrangements were in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:35
Lois Witt, 86, a daughter of Leland and Elva Premo, died June 20, 2014.
She was born Aug. 4, 1927, and grew up in Bridger. She married Stanley C. Witt at Bridger on July 3, 1945. They lived at Bridger and Glendive, before moving to Minot, N.D., where they lived for 31 years.
After retiring they did volunteer work with Mobile Missionary Assistance Program for eight years. For the remainder of her life, she lived in Billings.
Survivors include four daughters, Penny Brock of Reno, Nev., Rena Morris of Dallas, Terry Vandenoever of Billings and Stacey Mendro of Williston, N.D.; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; a sister, Shirley Mitchell of Canyon Ferry; and a brother, Don Premo of Bridger.
Services were June 24 at West Side Baptist Church in Billings. Interment followed in the Bridger Cemetery. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be made in her name to Lives Under Construction, 296 Boys Ranch Road, Lampe, MO 65681 or to LaVie Crisis Pregnancy Center, 2321 Broadwater Ave., Billings, MT 59102.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:31
Charles Merrill Pelton, 69, who was involved in the livestock industry his entire life, died June 9, 2014, of cancer.
He was born Nov. 3, 1944, in Billings to George and Forestine Pelton. He attended Fishtail grade school and graduated from Absarokee High School in 1963. He held the basketball scoring record at the Shrine Auditorium for approximately 30 years.
He was employed by Drum Land and Livestock, working the feedlot in Billings, and the KRM and Whitcomb ranches south of Malta, and also the Cottonwood Grazing Association in Whitewater for many years.
Later, he worked for feedlots and ranches in the Boyd-Edgar area, most recently, Thompson Cattle Co. in Huntley. He was an avid team roper and chariot racer, accomplished horseman, excellent horseshoer and skilled AI technician. In recent years he spent many hours at Billings Clinic.
He married Lynn Green in 1964 and they had a daughter, Kim, and a son, George. They later divorced. In 1973 he married Doris Heller and accepted her son, Heath, as his own. They also later divorced. In 2000 he married Dawn Van Meter and helped raise his stepsons Waylon and Donnie Ray Van Meter.
Survivors include his wife, of Billings; a daughter, Kim Smith of California; a son, George Pelton of North Carolina; stepsons, Heath Myers of Joliet, Waylon Van Meter of Bridger and Donnie Ray Van Meter of Roberts; nine grandchildren; a great-grandson to be born in October; sisters, Kathleen Ostrum of Absarokee, Sara Kerr of Absarokee; and a brother, Bill Pelton of Billings.
Services were June 14 at the Montana Expo Center. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Billings Clinic Heart Rehabilitation Center or the Billings Clinic Oncology Center, P.O. Box 31031, Billings, MT 59107 or www.billingsclinic.com/makeagift.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:10
Donald G. Russell, 75, who started Meadow Green Lawn Service and Meadow Green Sales and Service, died June 13, 2014, at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.
He was born March 15, 1939, in Lincoln, Neb., the son of Robert and Ruby “Coker” Russell. He had been a Billings resident for 28 years.
Mr. Russell was educated in Lincoln and served in the Navy as a jet mechanic for two years. He was employed with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and was co-owner of Howard and Russell Contractors. He also managed Lawnco Lawn Service, all in Lincoln.
He moved from Nebraska to Billings in 1986 and started Meadow Green Lawn Service. He later began selling Walker Mowers and started Meadow Green Sales and Service.
He married Elaine Wentland on May 3, 1980, in Lincoln on what would have been his parents’ 50th anniversary.
Survivors include his wife; a son, Craig Russell of Billings; a daughter, Tina Russell of Lincoln; and three grandchildren.
Visitation was June 18. Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 19, at Dahl Funeral Chapel.
Memorials may be given to the American Lung Association.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:09