The Billings Outpost

Nelson ‘Barney’ August Bliss

Nelson August “Barney” Bliss, 69, who had worked in oilfields and had a passion for radio-controlled model airplanes, died on the evening of May 18, 2013, at the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, Wyo., after a long illness.

He was born in Roundup on Jan. 14, 1944, to Nelson August “Barney” Horning Sr. and Athna Nickolson. After the death of his father in World War II, he was adopted by William H. Bliss, who married Athna.

He attended school in Roundup and graduated from Sumatra High School in 1962.

He played basketball for the Sumatra Warriors and repaired Model A cars with his brothers and friends.

After high school, Mr. Bliss attended Eastern Montana College for a year before enlisting in the Army in 1964. He was stationed in Germany as a part of the 7th Army until 1966, and then served in the Army Reserve for two years.

After leaving the service, he worked in oilfields in Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico, and he traveled throughout the United States and Canada as a salesman, safety trainer and on-site technician. He retired in May 2012.

On Oct. 18, 1968, he married Mildred Eleanor “Millie” Bliss in Roundup.

He was an avid fisherman and built radio-controlled model airplanes. He was active in model airplane communities in Casper, Thermopolis and Rock Springs and in Farmington, N.M., where he was instrumental in creating a local aero modeling club.

He served in leadership positions in several clubs, and the Bliss garage became a workshop and hangout for countless modelers over the years.

Survivors include his wife, of Rock Springs; a son, Shawn Bliss; a daughter, Wendy Ortiz; five grandchildren; and a brother Bill Bliss, and sisters, Janie Baird and Athna May Porter, all of Billings.

Arrangements were made through Vase Funeral Home in Rock Springs. A private service will be held for family and friends.

Donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association or to the Friends of the Musselshell School Inc., Box 14, Musselshell, MT, 59059.


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:44

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Christopher J. Dickey

Christopher John Dickey, 56, who had worked in construction and as a federal compliance officer, died June 2, 2013, of cancer and complications of surgery.

He was the son of Oliver “OB” Dickey and Betty Dickey. He graduated from West High School in 1974.

Mr. Dickey was a construction superintendent with Fisher Construction for 22 years. He received the Billings Architectural Association’s Hardhat Award for outstanding work on the Ronald McDonald House addition in 2001.  He worked for the U.S. Department of Labor as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance officer from Aug. 25, 2002, to June 1, 2012.

Survivors include his wife, Therese; children, Erin and John Dickey; father; and sisters, Cheryl Struthers and Mary Dickey.

A vigil service will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Dahl Funeral Chapel. Memorial Mass will be at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 521 Custer Ave., at 10 a.m. June 8. Interment of ashes will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Send donations in memory of Christopher Dickey, RiverStone Health, P.O. Box 1562, Billings, MT 59103.


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:43

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Kathleen Hope Dawson

Kathleen “Kathy” Hope Dawson, 56, of Columbus, who had worked as a registered nurse in Red Lodge, died May 28, 2013, of heart failure.

She was born Jan. 9, 1957, in Bridgeton, N.J., one of four children of Charles Frank Hess and Hope Sensita Hess, nee Espi.

She was a registered nurse working at Cedar Wood HealthCare Community in Red Lodge.

She married Marc Vaughn Dawson on April 1, 2006. They united three girls Sonya Lee, Roxanne Hope and Amy Heath; three sons, Marc Vaughn, Jeremy Joseph and Shane Paul; and nine grandchildren.

Services were June 1 at the Evangelical Church in Absarokee. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.

Financial assistance for services may be made to Kathy Dawson Memorial, Yellowstone Bank, (406) 322-5366, Account 10141502.


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:42

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Pauline F. Liming

Pauline F. Liming, 83, of Billings, died Tuesday, May 28, 2013.

She was born Dec. 8, 1929, in Queens, N.Y., to Frank and Irma Tavanese.

Survivors include a son, Paul; two grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Private inurnment will be in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:41

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Richard Fisher

Richard “Bud” Stevens Fisher, 94, who operated a ranch at Fly Creek, died May 31, 2013.

He was born Dec. 23, 1918, in Sheridan, Wyo., to Agnes Stevens Fisher and Richard Thomas Fisher. He married Wilma Sherod on Sept. 12, 1939.

He held many jobs and moved frequently before settling down on a ranch at Fly Creek. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher stayed there until retirement and then moved to Worden.

Survivors include his wife of 74 years; a daughter, Peggy Ellison; eight grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren.

No services were planned. Dahl Funeral Chapel was in charge of arrangements.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:41

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E. Jack Cooney

E. Jack Cooney, 76, of Billings, died Saturday, June 1, 2013.

He was born June 29, 1936, in the Bronx, N.Y. He had made his home in Billings since 1992.

He married Caroline Diebert Stockton in Billings on May 24, 1997.

Mr. Cooney was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Knights of Columbus.

Survivors include his wife and a stepson, Ken.

Vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, and Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Friday, both at St. Bernard’s Parish, with Rite of Committal in Holy Cross Cemetery. Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary has charge of arrangements.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:40

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Clara B. McGuire Phelps

Clara B. McGuire Phelps, 93, formerly active in the Billings community and politics, died May 19, 2013.

Mrs. Phelps was born on the family ranch at Rocky Prairie, Wash., on Jan. 11, 1920, the only child of John D. McGuire and Isabel Whitaker McGuire. She graduated from Tenino High School in Tenino, Wash., in 1937.

After college training courses, she went to work for the state of Washington Licensing Department in 1939. During World War II, she became one of the first women to manage the Licensing Department. She also received clearance from the U.S. State Department to send and receive secret wartime messages.

She married Lt. James Harvey Phelps on Nov. 4, 1942, in Olympia, Wash. He died March 9, 2008.

In 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Phelps moved to Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1970 they moved to Billings, where Mr. Phelps worked as a railroad safety inspector with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mrs. Phelps moved to Beaverton, Ore., in 2010 to be with her children.

Mrs. Phelps had been active in the Idaho PTA, serving as president; was a Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout leader; and was active in the United Methodist Church as board chairman for two years. She served Methodist Church Circles as president and wedding chairman and was on the endowment committee. She taught Sunday school and was a United Methodist Youth Fellowship adviser. She was a 50-plus year member of Moss Agate Chapter 126, Order of the Eastern Star in Billings.

She was a member of The Mother’s Club of DeMolay in Pocatello and worked with Bethel 1 of the International Order of Job’s Daughters in Pocatello. In Billings, she had served as the guardian of Bethel 7 and was an honorary member of Bethels 7 and 10. From 1976 to 1977, she served as grand guardian of Montana of the International Order of Job’s Daughters, and from 1978 to 1979 was supreme fourth messenger for the organization.

She served on many political central committees and political campaigns  and met many elected officials, including three U.S. presidents. She had been a member of the Daughters of Washington Pioneers, the Social Order of Beauceant and a Shrine Lady. She had been active in the Yellowstone Chapter of the Audubon Society.

Survivors include a son, James Howard Phelps III of Beaverton; a daughter, Martha Ann Brooks-Waley of Beaverton; four grandchildren; five stepgrandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and seven great-stepgrandchildren.

Burial was May 28 at the Masonic Memorial Park Cemetery in Olympia with Eastern Star graveside services conducted by the Tenino Eastern Star Chapter. Viewing was May 28 at Funeral Alternatives in Tumwater, Wash.

Donations may be sent to the Scottish Rite Language Clinic, 514 14th St. W., Billings, MT 59102; or to the Montana Audubon Society, P.O. Box 595, Helena, MT 59624.


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:49

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Elvina Sunwall

Elvina Sunwall, 89, a longtime technician at Deaconess Hospital in Billings, died May 22, 2013, at Aspen Meadows Retirement Community, two months after her sister, Milly Sunwall, died.

She was born March 6, 1924, on the family farm south of Homestead, the 11th of 13 children born to Anders and Margarethe Sunwall, emigrants from Norway. She attended Zich School, and in 1942 earned a high school diploma at Froid Public School.

She briefly attended Lutheran Bible School in Fergus Falls, Minn., returning to the farm to help after the death of her mother.

In 1943 she moved to Conrad and worked as a clerk at J.C. Penney. In 1948 she completed a year of Bible study in Fergus Falls.

In 1949 she played the piano and sang at tent meetings held by Evangelist Clarence Haaland. She later moved to Billings and worked at Kress Dime Store as a clerk, then as head of the children’s department.

In 1950 she took a job at Deaconess Hospital laboratory as a histologic technician. She retired in 1989 and moved in 2009 to Aspen Meadows with her sister.

She attended Billings Bible Church and later Yellowstone Lutheran Brethren Church.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 1, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Her ashes will be interred at Sunset Memorial Gardens following the service.

Donations are welcomed to Lutheran Brethren International Missions, P.O. Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 53567.


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:49

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Edwin ‘Ed’ Jirges

Edwin “Ed” Jirges, 82, a retired truck driver, died at St. Vincent Healthcare on May 8, 2013.

He was born near New Hradec, N.D., on Dec. 22, 1930, to Mary (Faiman) and Fred Jirges. He married Cecelia Krank on Dec. 31, 1951.

They lived on the family farm until moving to Billings in 1954.

He was an over-the-road truck driver for Kraft Foods and Consolidated Freightways, retiring in 1993.

Survivors include his wife, Cecelia; children, Renee Buzzetti, Lyle Jirges, Karen Shrum and Alton Jirges; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Visitation was May 11-12 at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. A vigil rosary was held May 13 at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Funeral Mass was May 13 at St. Pius X Church. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery at St. Pius X Church, where he was a charter member.

Those who wish may donate to St. Pius X Church, 717 18th St. W., Billings, MT 59102; or American Heart Association, 2812 First Ave. N., Billings, MT 59101.


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:48

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Elva ‘Tiny’ Gunn

Elva “Tiny” Gunn, 86, who farmed and ranched with her husband and was an active volunteer, died Saturday, May 25, 2013.

She was born Sept. 3, 1926, to Nora (Jackson) and Mathias H. Rapstad, the fifth of nine siblings. Her early years were spent in Ingomar, where she started first grade, moving to the Pompeys Pillar area in 1934. She attended Huntley Project School, graduating in 1944.

Upon graduating, she moved to Custer and worked at the local grocery store. She married William “Bill” Gunn on Aug. 4, 1946, and they farmed and ranched in Custer.

She was active in the Order of Eastern Star Jephthah 116 Chapter, where she was a past worthy matron. She was a Peg-A-Way 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher and Billings Deaconess Hospital volunteer.

She was a member of the Custer Congregational Church, Custer Friendly Circle, North Side Do-Better Homemaker Club, Montana Cattlewomen’s Association, Yellowstone County Cowbelles, Shiloh United Methodist Church, United Methodist Women and American Legion Auxiliary.

Mr. and Mrs. Gunn moved to Billings in 1978, and she worked at Rocky’s Bootery, Cole’s Department Store and Le Boutique. She cared for her husband for more than six years during his illness.

In the past year and a half, she had received care at Jensen Cottage at St. John’s Lutheran Home.

Survivors include a son, Ron Gunn; a daughter, Connie Grammens; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and sisters, Thelma Kratochvil and Connie Durfee.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, May 31, at Shiloh United Methodist Church, 1810 Shiloh Road. Interment will be at the Custer Cemetery at 3 p.m. Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to the Ronald McDonald House of Billings, 1144 North 30th St., Billings, MT 59101.


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:48

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