Donald “Don” James Ryan, 82, a retired KOA Inc. who founded two nonprofit corporations, died of cancer on April 25, 2013.
He was born on a farm near Missouri Valley, Iowa, on June 21, 1930, to Leo Ryan and Ruth Cecelia Welbourn Ryan. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for both his bachelor of business administration and master of business administration degrees. He was an Iowa state champion and a three-time Big Ten wrestling champion.
He was an executive for KOA Inc. After his retirement, he formed two nonprofit corporations whose missions were to organize teenagers to undertake public service projects that would benefit low-income families.
Paint Up Montana Inc. painted 115 houses in 14 Montana cities at no cost to the homeowners. Called to Serve Inc. was involved in helping low-income people, providing thousands of hooded bath towels for babies, backpacks with gifts for students, and new winter coats.
Mr. Ryan was also a strong Pro-Life advocate and spurred the building of 15 pro-life highway signs across Montana, raised funds to buy 1,000 pro-life bumper stickers, organized the distribution of 5,000 hoodies for babies for Montana crisis pregnancy centers and helped to organize the Culture of Life convention in Billings recently.
He worked for many years with the Diocesan vocation director in an effort to increase vocations to the Catholic priesthood and to help raise money for the seminarians.
Survivors include Jane, his wife of 60 years; five children, Patrick, Kathy McMeekin, Rita Henkel, Teresa Hjellum and Ann Vollum; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Both the Vigil and Funeral Mass were held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church. The vigil was April 29, and the Funeral Mass was April 30. Arrangements were in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel.
Memorials may be made to Family Services or St. Vincent de Paul Society, 2610 Montana Ave., Billings MT 59101.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:15
Ralph Bond Jr., 84, who helped build the Conoco refinery and worked many years there, died April 27, 2013.
He was born in LaCrosse, Wis., on Feb. 28, 1929, the only son of Merle Bandle and Ralph Bond Sr. The family moved to Billings, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather, William Durham, and spent some years in Colstrip and on their farm in Absarokee, before moving back to Billings.
He attended school in Billings and Colstrip before graduating in 1947 from Absarokee High School, where he played basketball. He attended Rocky Mountain College from 1947 until 1949. He began working at Continental Oil Co. in 1949 as a member of the original “49ers” and helped with construction of the Billings refinery.
He served in the Navy during the Korean War, from 1950 until May 1954. He was aboard the USS Bataan aircraft carrier and attained the rank of electrician’s mate second class.
After military service, he returned to Continental Oil Refinery, where he worked until 1985 as a pump mechanic, pump mechanic foreman, and later as craft supervisor.
He served as president of the Local 2-470 Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers union for many years. He also served as chairman of the Yellowstone Democratic Party. In 1968, he ran unsuccessfully for the Montana Legislature.
He married Patricia Ann Hould on Sept. 4, 1954, in Pasadena, Calif. She died in 1973. In 1990 Mr. Bond married Gail Gullard Fritz in West Yellowstone. She died in November 2010.
During his young adult years, he was a member of the Billings Mounted Quadrille and performed routines on horseback at rodeos and parades.
Survivors include children, Michael Bond of Casper, Wyo., Richard Bond of Billings, Margaret of Corvallis, Ore., and Brian of Buffalo, Wyo.; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and stepchildren, Kerry, Cassidy and Shadd.
Visitation was May 1 and services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Interment with military honors will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made to St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, P.O. Box 35200, Billings, MT 59107-5200.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:15
Aron G. Strange, 66, who founded the Musicians Rendezvous in 1990, died Sunday, April 21, 2013, at his home in Joliet.
He was born in Wichita, Kan., on Feb. 2, 1947, and graduated from Wichita Heights High School in 1965. He was the eldest of three boys of Ronald W. and Virginia L. (Ramsey) Strange.
He moved to Montana in 1978 where he was the president of Strange Inc.
Survivors include sons, Sean G. and Zane I.J.; brothers, Donald L. and Ronald W.; and three grandchildren.
The 2013 Musicians Rendezvous on Aug. 9-11 at Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus will be dedicated in his memory. He was the founder of the Rendezvous in 1990.
Memorials may be given to The Musicians Rendezvous, Whitebird Community Center (c/o of Bill Calovis, 445A McNaley Road, Columbus, MT 59019).
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:14
Loretta Lael Wroot, 77, of Billings, who played the organ and loved square dancing and clogging, died Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at St. Vincent Healthcare.
She was born March 27, 1936, in Greybull, Wyo., the daughter of Richard and Belle (Frederickson) Wheeler. She attended school in Greybull and at the University of Wyoming. She lived in Ten Sleep, Wyo., before moving to Billings in 1974. From 1985 to 1990 she lived in Colorado Springs, Colo.
She had worked for her brother in Colorado at an accounting office. In Billings she worked at Treasure State Costume and for Selover Honda Car Dealership.
She painted and also created birthday and wedding cakes. She had a passion for gardening and was a member of the Heights Ditzy Divas of the Red Hat Society. She was a breast cancer survivor and had received care from St. Vincent Healthcare.
Survivors include children, William Wroot of Loveland, Colo., Lael Parker, Dawn Townsley and Theresa Roll, all of Billings, and Leah Agee of Colorado Springs; 16 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a sister, Sally Watson; and brothers, Larry and Dean Wheeler.
Services were April 14 at Dahl Funeral Chapel. Interment of ashes was planned for later.
Memorials may be made to LaVie, 44 Wicks Lane, Billings, MT 59105.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:35
Homer S. Ford Jr, 89, of Billings, who had been regional supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Service in Portland, Ore., died Wednesday, April 10, 2013, after suffering crippling pain.
He was born Sept. 19, 1923, in Alhambra, Calif., the only son of Homer S. Ford Sr. and Ida Friend. When he was still young, the family moved from California to Ellensburg, Wash., where he lived until entering the military service in 1942. Mr. Ford served 3 ½ years with the Marine Corps during World War II, with overseas duty in the South Pacific.
He married Mary Schell in 1944 and after an honorable discharge received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from Utah State University in Logan, Utah. In June 1966 he became regional supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Service at Portland, Ore.
In 1976 he retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Mr. and Mrs. Ford raised fruit, cattle and other crops. Mrs. Ford died in 1997. In 1999 he moved to Billings and married the former Dorothy Prill Miner. They traveled until ill health kept them homebound.
Survivors include his wife, Dorothy; sons, Mike, Fred and Douglas; a daughter, Barbara; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; a sister, Margaret; a stepson Andrew Norstrum; son, Nate; and stepdaughter, Andrea Renee Griffith.
Inurnment will be later. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:23
Ray D. Lewis, 73, who taught and coached for 26 years and also owned a construction company, died April 11, 2013, at St. Vincent Healthcare.
He was born July 6, 1939, the son of Rose Rang and Ray Lewis. He graduated from Fairview High School in 1957, Northern Montana College in 1961 and earned a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Montana College.
He married Charlotte Eder in 1960.
Mr. Lewis taught and coached for 26 years with stops in Lodge Grass, White Sulphur Springs, Absarokee, Billings Central Catholic High School, Huntley Project and Broadview-Lavina.
He owned and operated Mudjacking Construction for 41 years, doing jobs across Montana and Wyoming.
Survivors include his wife; two sons, Jeff and Gregg; and five grandchildren.
Services were April 16 at Dahl Funeral Chapel. Luncheon followed at the Knights of Columbus.
Memorials may be made to: Billings Catholic School Foundation, P.O. Box 31158, Billings, MT 59107.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:22
Gerald Earl Morris died Thursday, April 11, 2013, from complications of cancer.
Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Barbara; children, Larry, Shawn, Jason and Kimberly Feldkamp; a brother, Guy; sisters, Dee Gottwig and Orvetta; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Private family services will be held. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:19
Diane Lynn Weil, 54, of Billings, who loved taking care of her rose bushes and enjoyed a good potluck, died Wednesday, April 10, 2013.
She was born Feb. 3, 1959, to DuWayne and Shirley Strom in Wadena, Minn. On Jan. 14, 1981, she married Tim Weil.
She enjoyed spending time at the property in Martinsdale. She had received care from Eagle Cliff Manor and from Rocky Mountain Hospice.
Survivors include daughters, Tanya and Natasha Weil, both of Billings; three grandchildren; and siblings, Kerry Strom, Larry Strom and Doug Strom, all of Billings, and Shelly Kudrna of Draper, Utah.
Services were April 12 at Atonement Lutheran Church in Billings. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be sent to Valley Federal Credit Union, c/o Tanya Weil, P.O. Box 20417, Billings MT 59104.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:18
Adam Herauf, 91, of Billings, a World War II veteran who enjoyed playing the banjo, died Monday, April 8, 2013.
He married Hilde Braun on Feb. 7, 1944. He served in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater, achieving the rank of gunners mate second class. He took part in the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Hilde; and children, Diane Glantz of Bigfork and Duane and Terry, both of Billings.
Memorial Mass was April 13 at St. Thomas Parish in Billings. Private family inurnment was planned. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:17
Wilfred E. ‘Bud’ Lawrence, 73, who had worked at many jobs and mastered skills of every kind, died April 9, 2013, at his home.
He was born Feb. 26, 1940, to Wilfred and Thelma Lawrence in Columbus, the fifth of seven children. In his younger years, he raced cars in Columbus and grew to love Harley-Davidson and cars of all types.
Survivors include his life partner, Linda Hearn; daughters, Joann, Rene and Mary Sue; brother, Frank; sisters, Ginger Reed, Mary, Alice and “Tootie”; two grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:16