Eugene Garber of Ismay, Montana, passed away on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 95 years old in Bozeman where he had lived near his daughter Annette for the past several years. Born September 21, 1924 on his family’s farm near Big Horn, Wyoming, he was the third son of Roy and Vie Willits Garber. Coming of age during the Great Depression he and his family knew hard work.
Graduating from Big Horn High School in 1941 Gene entered college only to have Pearl Harbor change plans; he returned home to grow food for the war effort. By early 1944 three high school classmates had lost their lives in the war so even though he was exempt due to the farm’s production, Gene enlisted in the Navy Reserves and was assigned as a yeoman on board the USS Oconto APA-187. He served in the South Pacific for the remainder of the war on the telephone communications watch from the bridge of the ship relaying all the captain’s commands. In 1946 after the war he enrolled at the University of Wyoming under the GI bill and graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Arts along with a private pilot’s license. During college he had met Fernande D’Haeyer and they were married May 31, 1947, living in Laramie until he graduated.
In July of 1950, having purchased the Dial Moss ranch near Ismay, Montana they came to where they ranched for the rest of their lives. The early years and many to follow were very tough. They had six children and together as a family worked hard at raising sheep, cattle, grain, and hay. Contour farming, flood irrigation, fences, range management, reservoirs, all were in the mix to improve the land and earn a living. Gene put his pilot’s license to good use using first a J-3 Piper Cub, then later a PA 11 to oversight the ranch. Gene had a strong work ethic yet he nor the family worked on Sundays! During many of those years son Warren and Bernie ranched with Gene and Fernande.
Gene enjoyed years of his Navy reunions, building and maintaining the Holy Family grotto in Ismay, being an amateur historian for the Ismay area, visiting with relatives and friends, keeping up his genealogy chart, and most of all RANCHING in which he took great pride. He served on various grazing and conservation boards, helped bring electricity and telephone service to the Ismay area, fought fires, and was honored to be a lector at Sunday Mass in Plevna. He and Victor rode in the 1989 Montana Centennial Cattle Drive as well as the 1990 Wyoming 100th Centennial Cattle Drive.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Orr, his son Marvin, and his wife Fernande in 2012. He is survived by his brother Victor of Big Horn, WY; his son Victor (Jane), Douglas, Wyoming; Arlette Randash (Dean), Helena; Warren (Bernie), Miles City; Annette (Don), Bozeman; and Paulette Householder (Cliff) of Ismay. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren (plus 2 on the way), and 2 great, great grandchildren. A special thank you goes out to those who graciously cared for Gene in his last years: Jennifer and Brian Cain at Homestead Homes in Miles City, Bozeman care givers Ginger Lee, Springmeadow staff and hospice care as well as a visitors David Baldwin, Dean Parisian and his life- long friend Dick Steigenga. THANK YOU one and all.
Pallbearers are grandsons, Shane Garber, Dael and Drew Householder, Thomas, Timothy, and Giovanni Osen, and Marvin Randash. Honorary pallbearers are granddaughters and great grandchildren.
A rosary will be prayed at St. John’s Catholic Church in Baker at 10:00 a.m., preceding the funeral Mass on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. After the funeral a community luncheon will be in St. John’s basement for all to gather and share memories. Gene will be buried at the family cemetery on the ranch. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
Memorials may be made to a charity of any choice or to St. John’s Church, Baker, Montana.
I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11: 25-26