Char-Koosta News - Official Newspaper of the Salish and Kootenai Tribe

Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

For the Record...

April 2007 Obituaries

Anna Ruth-Bird-Ahtanum-Jobey
ST. IGNATIUS - Anna Ruth-Bird-Ahtanum-Jobey was born on July 5, 1925 in St. Ignatius, Montana. She passed away on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at Emerald Circle Convalescent Center in Wapato, WA.

Anna was a member of the Salish and Kootenai Tribe and the Catholic Church. She has resided in Ronan, MT, Wapato, Darrington, Puyallup and Tacoma, WA. She met and married Kenneth Jobey. Anna enjoyed gardening and her pets. If she had to go anywhere, she would put on her Cadillac shoes and she was gone.

The family would like to thank the staff at Emerald Care Convalescent Center, Merritt Funeral Home, Yakama Agency, Salish/Kootenai Tribe, Puyallup Tribe, Tulalip Tribe, Yakama Tribal Police, the medical staff of the Yakama Tribal Clinic and to Dr. Mark Kozakowski of the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority. A special thanks to Tina Owens, Sandra Celestine, Jenny Celestine, Val Wahpat and all the cooks. We apologize if we left someone out. Your support for Anna's family is greatly appreciated.

Anna is survived by her daughter Dorothy John of Tacoma, her brother Gene and his wife Charlotte of Polson, MT, her grandchildren Debbie Pierre, Marry Anne John (Joe), Margaret John, Leo John, Jr., Delores Johnson (Tony) all of Tacoma, and Michel John (Becky) of Taholah, WA. She is also survived by 16 great grandchildren, Traci, Maria, Theresa, Beatrice, Regina, Susan, Joe, Angel, Angelica, Angela, Kortney, Kameron, Toni, Derek, Lewis and Wyatt, 6 great-great grandchildren, Tony, Amelia, Nicholas, Angeline, Isiah and Kayleona, numerous nieces and nephews and many dear friends. Anna was preceded in death by her husband Kenneth Jobey, her brothers Charlie, Joe, and Frank, her sister Helen, her sisters Helen, Mary and Ida and her parents Nancy Larose and Henry Bird.

Thomas Steven Walchuk
RONAN — Thomas Steven Walchuk passed away to be with the Lord on April 30, 2007. He was born in a sod house to Peter and Pearl Walchuk on January 31, 1926 in Whitewater, MT.

During his childhood, Tommy's family left the prairie and relocated to a farm West of Ronan in 1936. In 1948, Tommy married Evadene Marie Bilile. They raised their family in Round Butte, where he enjoyed raising horses and Hereford cattle.

He was a retired farmer/rancher, businessman, drove the Senior Citizen bus, and welcomed many to the RV Park from around the world. He enjoyed playing music at dances and extended care facilities and water dousing. He enjoyed meeting and visiting people. He kept in close touch with families throughout the U.S. and Canada.

His wife, infant daughter Mary, a brother and his parents preceded him in death.

His sister Lillian Pablo, brothers Leo, Joe and Jim Walchuk, daughters Diane and Theresa, sons Laurence, Marvin and Stan, 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, survive Tommy.

Arrangements are under the direction of Grogan Funeral Home in Polson. Condolences may be sent to the family at 

MelvinL. Brown
RONAN — Melvin L. Brown, 82, of Ronan, MT. died on April 26, 2007 at his home in Ronan.

Melvin was born on Dec. 20, 1924 at the family home near Polson. He was raised and grew up in the Polson area.

As a young man Melvin worked in Hanford, WA. as a truck driver for a few years and eventually returned to Polson.

He married Helen Bisson on July 23, 1945.

He worked in the timber industry in various capacities for several years. He then started his long career as an ironworker and worked for Montana Power Company and Culbertson Steel in Missoula. He also owned operated Brown's Conoco Station at Post Creek during the early 1960's. Melvin retired in 1983.

He and Helen took a three-month vacation to Alaska after his retirement.

Melvin especially loved hunting and fishing. Melvin was a longtime supporter and fan of the Mission Valley Speedway and built several roll cages for local drivers.

Melvin was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe.

He is preceded in death by his wife Helen, an infant daughter Mary Regina Brown and 2 brothers Harry Brown and Ronald Brown.

He is survived by his children- Melvin and Lynda Brown of Pablo, Cammie and Fred Ross of Ronan and Natalie and Ron Melvin of Polson and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is also survived by six sisters- Dorothy Webster of Ronan, Lenore and Henry Padilla of Ronan, Laura and Dale Decker of Puyallup,WA, Phyllis Lester of Ronan, June and Dave Conner of Tacoma, WA and Irma and Ballard Olquin of Portland, OR and is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.

The family would like to give a special thank you to Ann and Herb Sias for their care and friendship shown to Melvin.

Condolences may also be sent to the family at

Mary Louise Couture Lefthand
POLSON — Our beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and friend, Mary Louise Couture Lefthand, passed on, Sunday April 22, 2007. She was born on November 27, 1931 in St. Ignatius, at the Holy Family Hospital to Madeline Phillips and Alexander Couture.

Mary attended school at the Ursiline School for eight years and worked as a nurse’s aide. Mary graduated from the Flandreau Indian School in 1951. She married Victor Lefthand on June 7, 1954 and had two daughters, Verna Leann and Lauren Gail Lefthand. During the following years she had numerous jobs including cooking in Libby, while Vic worked on the Libby Dam. She also worked with the Homemakers, then Lake County Homemakers and the elders program in Elmo. She served as a tribal court judge, and served as a State Social Service employee, which led her to work in this same field and, following her good friend Edie Adams, through the circuit of social service work for the BIA at the Flathead, Browning, Fort Peck and Wind River reservations.

She came back home and worked with Social Services and then ran for the Elmo District Tribal Council representative where she served the community for 12 years.

Mary loved Christmas treeing, picking apples and huckleberries. And more recently, she enjoyed gambling and traveling with her daughter Lauren to places such as Las Vegas, Nevada; Bonners Ferry, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents Madeline and Alexander; her sister, Madeline; grandparents, Louis and Sophia Phillips; and John and Josephine (Sapine) Couture; aunts, Madeline Mathias, Mary Eneas, and Agatha Phillips; aunt and uncle Susie and Joe Couture; and Elizabeth and Pete Couture; cousins, Richard Nichols; Roy Couture; and Regina Matt; nephew Darren Couture; great-great nieces, Tia and Rashaunda Denton; and many other beloved family and friends.

She is survived by her husband Victor Lefthand of Elmo; daughters, Verna Leann Lefthand of Phoenix, Arizona; Lauren Gail Lefthand of Pablo; Aunt Helen Charlo of Elmo; sister, Agnes Caye (August) of Polson; brothers, Wayne Couture (Barbara) of Dog Lake; Ignace Couture of Elmo; Edward Couture (Earline) of Elmo; grandson, Brandon James of Polson; great grandchildren, Elijah; Tyrel; and Keaton; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

All will greatly miss her.

Arrangements were under the direction of Grogan Funeral Home in Polson, MT. Condolences may be sent to the family at

Mildred Genevieve “Jennie” Matt-Eder
POLSON — Jennie went home to be with the Lord, surrounded by her family and the caring medical staff of St. Luke Hospital in the early morning hours of April 18, 2007. She was born August 29, 1914 in Ronan, MT to Jule Matt and Louise Poquette-Matt and was the 7th of 10 children. Jennie was a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe and held her culture close to her heart, willingly sharing her knowledge of her traditional lifeways with her family and close friends.

At the age of 5, she and her older brother Woodrow (Woody), and younger brother Wilfred were sent away to Flandereau Indian School, where she received her education until she was 12 years of age. Jennie returned to the Flathead Reservation and lived with her family in the Jocko for many years. Eventually, in her true independence, Jennie embarked on a life that was filled with hard work, but a life she found to be extremely rewarding. She worked in the woods for several years starting out as a tree skinner, and was later promoted to a sawyer where she worked side by side with her male counterparts, much to their astonishment. Jennie went on to master the operation of the skidstear and logging trucks for her employer, taking on these positions with great pride for it was unheard of for a woman to hold such jobs during that time.

Jennie’s love for the outdoors was very profound and it is because of this love she was led to seek work as a ranch hand on a homestead in Helmville, MT. Upon meeting the owner of this ranch, she had informed him that she needed a job, and he needed her. After two years of working along side this man, it became evident to them both of them that they were well suited and had developed a bond that would last a lifetime.

On April 12, 1954, Jennie married Otto Eder. They lived together on the 160-acre homestead that had been originally settled by Otto’s parents. Together they built the homestead into a thriving 1,400-acre ranch. When they had time between raising crops and working their cattle, Jennie and Otto would take off into the wilderness for weeks at a time, enjoying the wildlife and picking huckleberries. Both were avid hunters, but only hunted for the food they needed, as they were strong believers in being good stewards of the blessings of nature. Jennie was known for her hunting abilities and her great skill with a rifle. She was listed in Boone and Crocket for taking one of the largest bull elk out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Her love of nature and all it had to offer is a legacy she has passed on to many.

During the past 10 years, after the death of her husband, she became increasingly close to her niece, Betty Margquart. Jennie thought of Betty as more of a daughter than anything else. These two formidable women shared a very strong and loving relationship. As Jennie’s health needs became more prevalent, Betty brought her to her home to care for her. This relationship spilled over to Betty’s children and grandchildren, who also spent many years sharing in Jennie’s stories and memories.

Anyone who knew Jennie could not help but be touched by her loving nature and generosity, which knew no bounds. She leaves behind many special family members and close friends, who will miss her smiling face and sweet spirit.

Jennie was preceded in death by both parents, the love of her life and soulmate, Otto Eder, her brothers John, Tony, James, Eli, Woodrow and Wilfred, and her sisters Mary Florence, Theresa and Lillian, newphews Andrew Matt, Don Matt, Camille “Sonny” Matt, Duane Delaware and her special friend Harmon of Phoenix, AZ.

Jennie is survived by her nieces, Betty (Clark) Marquart, Charlo; Bernice Tallant and family, Seattle, WA; and Sandra Stevens and family, Monroe, WA; special nephew Leonard Delaware, Hot Springs; nephew, Russell (Linda) Matt, Pablo; niece, Louise (Tweetie) Matt, Pablo, great nieces, Stacey Kiehn and her family, Ronan; Cheryl Colacurcio and Denice (George) Goodale, St. Ignatius; and great nephews, John “Duffy” (Cora) McQuade, Federal Way, WA; Curt (Patti) Matt, Auburn, WA; DuWayne (Denice) Matt, Federal Way, WA; and Jeff Matt, Seattle, WA; her special friends, Don and Julie Potcha and family; Norma and Charlie Hughes; Mike and Linda Willis all of Helmville, MT; and special friend Kathy of Phoenix, AZ, and numerous great-nieces and nephews and their families living in and around the Seattle area and the Flathead Reservation.

Pallbearers were her great-great nephews: Jordan Espinosa, Tylar Espinosa and Westyn Kiehn, Rick Kiehn, George Goodale and Don Potcha. Honorary Pallbearers were Clark Marquart, Leonard Delaware, Cheryl Colacurcio and the Potcha boys.

Officiating the services was Jennie’s pastor, Lockley Bremner.

Funeral services provided by Grogan Funeral Home.

Tehya Ann Cummings
ST. IGNATIUS — Tehya was born April 3, 2007 and died April 15, 2007.

Pastor Lynn Lapka will be officiated. Burial was at the Lake View Cemetery in Polson immediately after the funeral.

Parents are Mark and Sherry Cummings of Ronan.

Grandparents are Alan and Naomi Cummings of Polson and Sharon Cain of Polson.

Billie Jo Staggs
BLUE BAY — Billie Jo Staggs, 41, died at St. Patrick's Hospital of a brain aneurism on Saturday, April 7, 2007. She was born September 17, 1965 in Missoula to Glenn Henry and Mary Madeline (Pierre) Umphrey. She graduated from Two Eagle River High School and went on to graduate from Missoula Vo-Tech. She worked in the Financial Aid Department at the Vo-Tech for many years; she also worked for the city of Missoula.

While in Whittier Grade School she met the love of her life Don Staggs. They married April 18, 1987 in East Missoula.

Billie was a very compassionate person that always put others before herself, she centered her life around her family and the time she spent caring for, teaching and loving her children. Billie rarely missed a race at the Mission Valley Speedway where she was the biggest fan of Don and son, Edward. Billie Jo also loved to play darts, and go to Nascar races. She loved to have fun and her friends enjoyed being around her and will always remember her contagious laughter.

Billie Jo was preceded in death by; beloved father, Glenn Umphrey; her step-father, Rennal Bramsen; her father-in-law, Robert Staggs; brothers, William Hawkins and Owen Hawkins; sisters, Julie Hawkins and Betty Umphrey; and two nieces, Tambi Weinberger and Tina Staggs. She is also preceded in death by her son's father, Edward Truman.

She leaves behind her soul mate Don Staggs, children Edward Truman, Benny and Mary Jo of the family home at Blue Bay, her best friend and daughter, Bessie from Albuquerque, New Mexico and step-daughter Katelynn; her mother, Mary Bramsen; her mother-in-law, Sally Staggs; her sisters, Cindy Umphrey and Gwen (Kurt) Bautch; brother, Calvin Hawkins; brothers-in-law Robert (Robin) Staggs, Ted (Tina) Staggs, Ron Staggs, sister-in-laws Bessie (John) Evans and Rose Minnis, her niece and nephew, Glenda and Matthew Hawkins, which she raised after the death of their mother. A very large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and many, many, friends who loved her.

The funeral service was held on Wednesday April 11, 2007 at Grogan Funeral Home. Rev. John Payne officiated.

"We did not know that day, that God would call your name;
In live we loved you dearly, in death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to loose you, you did not go alone;
For part of us went with you the day God called you home.
You left us special memories, your love is still our guide;
Although we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, nothing seems the same;
But as God calls us one by one, our chain will link again".