Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

For the Record
February 2011

Laurene Joy Glover Johnson
RONAN — Longtime Ronan resident Laurene Joy Glover Johnson joined her parents in heaven on February 28, 2011. Laurene passed away in the St. Luke hospital in Ronan. Laurene was born to Fred and Helen Glover on May 8, 1940 in St. Ignatius.

As a young girl, Laurene resided in many different logging communities. Her brothers would place her on a mailbox to sing and play banjos while the construction crew built road between Plains and Hot Springs. She enjoyed the music in her family, and she had a beautiful voice. Laurene loved Western Montana and finally found her permanent home in Ronan many years ago. She is a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Laurene had many friends and will be sadly missed.

Laurene received her college education in Seattle, Washington at the Singer Business College. From there, she worked as a bookkeeper for various companies in the South. Laurene was the second employee at Salish Kootenai College and helped develop the college as it is today. She was most proud of her ten-year tenure at Salish Kootenai Housing Authority where she received many honors, including employee of the year.

She met Jim Johnson in 1988 and they married two years later on November 5. She and Jim spent many wonderful days in their beautiful garden planting flowers and enjoying their blossoms. They loved to travel and cook for local events. Laurene loved to cook so much that she booked a trip to Italy that was specifically to learn how to cook Italian food from the Italians themselves.

Laurene was an active member of the V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary Post 5652 in Ronan. She also donated many hours to help at all tribal wakes. Laurene was outspoken, compassionate, loving and she always fulfilled her obligations and promises.

Laurene is survived by her loving husband of 20 years James D. Johnson, three children: Theresa Marie Green (husband Mark) of Washougal, Washington; James Thomas Ridley of Eugene, Oregon; and Meloney Michelle Ridley of Ronan; ten grandchildren; four great grand children; her brothers: Robert L. and Dale M. of Seattle, Washington; Bowen H. Glover of Ronan; and her only sister Shirley Anne Glover of Ronan.

Services were held on Friday, March 4, 2011, at the Ronan Cemetery on 46727 N. Foothills Dr., Ronan. A gathering of friends for a celebration of her life followed at the V.F.W. Post 5256 immediately following the service, with food and beverages served.

Michael J. Snell
ST. IGNATIUS — Michael "Mikey" J. Snell, 45, passed away Monday, February 14 in Great Falls of complications from diabetes.

Michael was born in St. Ignatius on February 19, 1965 to Floss Felsman and Babe Snell.

Mike was a well-traveled child who was baptized in the Jocko Church and received his first communion while in Hawaii. He was raised and educated in St. Ignatius, Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana. He went on to be a sheet metal fabricator in Washington and for Big Sky Heating and Cooling in Ronan.

A big sports fan, when opportunity presented itself, he liked going fishing and watching NASCAR.

His father and several aunts and uncles whom he had known for years preceded him in death: Joe Dog, Harold, and Carl Felsman; and Marjorie Michel.

He leaves behind his mother Floss Felsman of Ronan; his son Mike, Jr. (Alisha), their children Loki and Memphis; his sisters and brother, Diana Falcon Lee (Duane) and their children Tammi, Jeff and Vallee; Francis "Jiggs" (Leslie) his children Curtis and Kaila Snell; Linda Azure (Jess) their children Eduardo and Nick Catudio, and Gabriel Azure; Bev (L.D.) and her daughter Jennifer; Donna Miller and her sons Nick, Matt and his boy Jordan; and Chris (Debra) and their children Tyler and Devon; Shirley Butler and her children Dave and Maleea; Barb Nicholson (Chad) and their children Zane and Luke; as well as Mike's companion Sandra McClure of Great Falls; his aunt and godmother Dorothy Felsman; a special spiritual friend and counselor, Lee Houle of Rocky Boy. He also leaves behind numerous cousins and his dog Blix.

The Indian Choir; Fred Matt; and Del Nicholson, who traveled from Deer Lodge, provided the music.

A Rosary was held Sunday, Feb. 20 at Foster Funeral Home and Crematory in St. Ignatius. Mass was celebrated Monday in the St. Ignatius Catholic Mission with burial at the St. Ignatius Catholic Cemetery. Father Drew officiated.

Pallbearers were Mike Snell Jr., Eddie Catudio, Curt Snell, Nick Catudio, Matt Miller, Chris Miller, Nick Miller, and Jeff Engleson.

Janice Nuernberger
RAVALLI — Janice (Foutch-Sollars) Nuernberger, 65, passed away February 28 at her home in Ravalli.

Born Sept. 15, 1945 in Haskell, OK to Ernest and Lucy Foutch she was raised in Santa Paula, CA.

She met and married Don Sollars while he was serving in the military and they were married in 1964 and eventually made their home in Browning. However, as with many things in life things did not work out and they later divorced in 1990. She then married Howard Nuernberger on June 20, 1992 in Charlo and they made their home in Ravalli.

While in Browning she worked for Teeples IGA until 1991; then she worked for Lake County Bank in St. Ignatius before retiring in 2009.

She enjoyed shopping, golfing, camping, fishing riding horses and landscaping and gardening.

She was preceded in death by her mom and dad Ernest and Lucy Roberts Foutch; seven siblings; son Edward Wayne Sollars; daughter Laurie Wallis; and a stepmother Willow Foutch.

She is survived by her husband Howard Nuernberger of Ravalli; daughters Jackie Hicks (Mark) of Reklaw, TX, Laura Sollars, Paula Augare (Paul) of Browning; sons Kenny Sollars (Sheila) of Henderson, TX, Richard Sollars of Ravalli and stepsons Bill Brown (Emma) and Howard Paul "HP" (Diane Nuernberger) of Billings; 21 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; sister Alma Calvert and brother Gerald Foutch, both of Grants, NM; and sons she raised as her own Richard Trombley, Rod Sellars (Zola), Glenn Kennedy (Kathy), and Tony Beaudry (Billie Jo) all of Browning, MT.

A visitation was held at the Foster Funeral Chapel in St. Ignatius on March 2 with funeral services held on Thursday at the St. Ignatius Christian Church. A reception followed in the St. Ignatius Community Center following the services.

A memorial service is tentatively planned in Browning on Saturday, March 12.

Memorials may be made to the American Auxiliary of St. Ignatius.

Earl Dennis Jones
RONAN — Earl Dennis Jones, 69, of Ronan, traveled on to the happy hunting grounds on Friday, February 25, 2011 at St Luke Hospital in Ronan. He was the fifth of eleven children born to John and Amelia (Tellier) Jones. He was a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

He was born and raised in St Ignatius. From there he served several years in the Army at Fort Hood in Texas. When he returned to Montana, he met his first wife, Guadalupe "Lupe" Nevarez. They had two children, Adele (Jeff) Vincent, Ronan, and Aragon Jones, Ellensburg, WA. They moved to Washington where he obtained his Diesel Mechanic Certification.

In 1977, he moved back to Montana where his travels added other companions and their children to his family. He met and married his current wife, June Parker, in 1987. Their relationship added two sons: Vincent Parker of Great Falls, and Armel Jones of Ronan, to his family. He worked as a Diesel mechanic for many years, farming, and several other occupations.

He finally retired so that he could spend more time doing the things he loved. His biggest passions in life were hunting, fishing, and his garden. There was nothing more exciting to him then the sound of the moose and elk during the rut, or the sight of the Salmon running in the river. He loved sharing the bounty of his garden with his friends and family.

He will live on in the many memories he has left his kids and grandkids, of their numerous hunting and fishing trips to Idaho with him.

He is preceded in death by his parents John and Amelia Jones; and his sister Adeline (Glenn) Upton.

He is survived by his children; his wife; his grandkids Andrew White, Benjamin White, Shelby Vincent, Josh Jones, Russell Jones, and Chelsey Parker; great grandkids Jossalyn White, OryAnna White, Isabella White, Seterra White, and Benjamin White; brothers and sisters Ken Jones, Kamiah, ID, Alfred (Ada) Jones, Ronan, Marie Ashley, St Ignatius, Pauline (Del) Nicholson, Deer Lodge, Leo Jones, Kamiah, ID, Lubert (Norma) Jones, Ronan, Ira (Alice) Jones, Arlee, Dalon (Anita) Jones Albany, OR, and Vicki (Davey) Belgard, Hayes; his adopted brother/best friend Joseph (Mae) Schliep, Polson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Traditional wake began Saturday evening at the Longhouse in St. Ignatius. Rosary was held on Monday, February 28. A traditional seven-drum ceremony, with services, was held on Tuesday, March 1 at the Long House. Burial followed at the Catholic Cemetery in St Ignatius.

Eugene (Gene) Lee Pitts
DIXON — Eugene (Gene) Lee Pitts, 90, longtime resident of Dixon, and member of the Confederated and Salish Kootenai Tribes, passed away February 18, 2011 at St. Luke's Hospital in Ronan.

Gene was the older of two children born to Geneva Houle and Virgil Lee Pitts in Valley Creek, Montana. He, went to the first and second grade at Valley Creek, 3rd grade Ursuline's School, St. Ignatius. His parents divorced and he moved with his father to Lonepine where he continued his elementary education riding to school on horseback. When he was eleven, his dad bought a dairy in Hot Springs where he learned his work ethics. Seven days a week, he arose at 4:30am, milked 30 head of Guernsey cows, delivered glass bottled milk to families of Hot Springs via horse drawn wagon and then he ran a mile and 1/2 to school. After a day of school, he would run the 1.5 miles back home and return to the milk barn to do the evening milk and giving him a "running start".

At the Montana State track meet he won the mile, 880 yard race, and placed second in the 440 yard race. Gene personally scored 14 of 14.2 team points for Hot Springs for the second place trophy behind the Madison County High School team who had 15 points.

Gene was recognized as the State's top athlete. His record for his mile race remains unbroken in Hot Springs.

After Gene graduated from Hot Springs, in 1939 he had the initiative to send his race clippings to the college national title holder in Track and Field, the Big 10 School, University of Wisconsin (UofW). His efforts were rewarded in a track scholarship. At the UofW, Gene ran with the greats, of running history, senior Fenske and grad-student Mehl. His freshman year he was the UofW number one 880 runner and won the famous Turkey Cross Country race, breaking the previous record by 23 seconds. UofW recognized him with a silver trophy as the freshman athlete of the year. He was afforded the opportunity to become the pace runner for Mehl in his effort to break the mile world record. UofW Badger head coach, Tom Jones said, "Gene Pitts was known as a quite man, slight build and stature but he always got his work done using his endurance, race intelligence, and speed." One of Gene's favorite memories was in his sophomore year he was a member of the Four Mile Relay team at the Drake Relays. His running career was interrupted by his duty to his nation in World War II.

He enlisted in the relatively new United States Forest Service "Smokejumpers" at the Nine Mile Base. He was always proud he was one of the first smoke jumpers out of the Nine Mile. He enlisted in the US Navy flight program, began his officer training at the Missoula County Airport and concurrently attended the University of Montana (Griz). Upon completion of pilot's training, he shipped out for combat in the south pacific, flying the Gull Wing F4U Corsair. He progressed to become the Squadron leader in the "Guadal Canal." After being shot down during his second year of combat fighting he was recruited the senior test pilot for the new hot WW II airplanes, under the personal direction of Admiral Halsey.

After the war, Gene returned to Hot Springs, and started logging. He then went to Camas Prairie and built cabins and set up a sawmill where he employed 28 local people. Hot Springs Savages (now the Savage Heat) Basketball team went on to win the 1946 Divisional title and won second in the state tournament.

In 1945 Gene returned to Hot Springs and while in his officer uniform, he went into the local mercantile, where he spied a beautiful auburn haired lady, Faye, whom he married July 5, 1947, after she completed her beauty school in Missoula on July 3rd, celebrated the 4th of July, then the morning of July 5th a fire broke out in the Camas Prairie timberline. He fought fire with his future bride at his side. They got the fire out, went home and put on their wedding clothes, and completed the evening and were married that night at the Presbyterian Church in Hot Springs. They moved from Hot Springs to Camas Prairie and lived while operating the Pitts Lumber sawmill until 1951 when he relocated the business to Ravalli and significantly expanded the operation. Gene was known as a person who would always give a person the opportunity to work. Gene concurrently moved his family, Faye and their two children Lettie and Garry to Dixon where his family grew to include Terry, KoLynn and Larry. The sawmill burned down in the early 60's. Then after that Gene took his few cows and developed a registered Polled Hereford Cattle Ranch in Dixon. In the early 70's, Gene he became the Director of the CSKT Community Action Program. Then he was appointed the postmaster for the United States Postal Office until he retired in 1990. After retirement, Gene returned to ranching and once again became involved in a leadership role and became involved with Mission Valley Power Board where he was an active board member for 17 years. He retired again at age 85.

Gene was very active with all activities that his children were involved with. He was a 4-H leader for over 20 years. He is one of the founding members of the Dixon Fire Department, which still serves the community and served on the Dixon School Board.

Gene was proceeded in death by son, Larry Pitts; brother, Donald Pitts; mother, Geneva Houle; father, Virgil Lee Pitts; and stepmother, Serena Pitts; and sister Donna Mae Veitch; and numerous other relatives who have been pioneers in the valley.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Faye Pitts; children: Garry (Christine) Pitts, Terry (Crystal) Pitts, and KoLynn (Paul) Sinclair and daughter in-law, Ginger Pitts. Grandchildren: Gregory Neuman, Stephen Pitts, Zachary Pitts, Zanen Pitts, Don Powell, Samantha Pitts, Whitney Pitts, Taylor Pitts; great-grandchildren: Jett Pitts and Talis Pitts; and sister, Nina Mae (Bud) Heitmiller of California.

A visitation will be held Friday at the funeral home until 5pm when the visitation will move to the Longhouse where a Rosary will be held at 7pm Friday evening. Funeral services will be held Saturday, 11am in the Dixon Gymnasium. A reception will follow in the Dixon Senior Center. Military honors and graveside services will be at 3pm at Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Missoula, Montana.

Virginia Colleen (Crouse) Kessler
CONDON - Virginia Colleen (Crouse) Kessler was born in Tracy, Minnesota on Sept. 1, 1929 and passed away on Feb. 22, 2011 in Ronan after fighting a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Virginia was married to Boyd Kessler in 1953 and resided in Missoula and later Condon, MT. She was a mother, housewife and an avid sports enthusiast, especially basketball. She loved music and played the bass guitar and organ and she enjoyed listening to country western music. She was baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith.

She is survived by her husband Boyd, three sons and one daughter; R.A. Nixon of Colonial Heights, VA, Rodney (Cherryol) Kessler of Missoula, Rusty (Shannon) Kessler of Condon and Randi (Craig) Rinker of Deer Park, WA. She is also survived by two sisters and one brother; Darlene McDaniels of Milton, WA, Valette Stepp of Ft. Worth, TX and Darrell Crouse of Crownville, MD as well as 3 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Cremation has taken place as per her wishes and no formal services are planned. Memorial contributions may be made to the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Foster Funeral Home of St. Ignatius is assisting the family with arrangements.

Mary Elizabeth Hewankorn Pierre
PABLO - Mary Elizabeth Hewankorn Pierre, 82, began her journey home on Friday February 4, 2011 in Polson.

A member of the CS&K Tribes of the Flathead Nation, she was born January 29, 1929 on Post Creek to Baptiste Hewankorn and Cecilia Youstah, Liz was raised by Sophie and Eneas Conko in Ronan where she grew up and helped raise Millie, Maggie, Ellen and John Conko. At the age of 19, she married Patrick Allen Pierre Sr., “Twice” at the JP then by the Catholic Church. They moved to Camas Prairie. They then ended up building a home in Polson for their family. Together they traveled, raised their family of seven and were a foster parent to many, many children. Her home was always full of love and laughter.

Liz was always full of giggles and the most beautiful smile. Her hobbies were many, she loved to bead and that was her favorite past time, sewing, watching wrestling, traveling to places like powwows and listening to her sons and grandsons drum and sing, “Bear Tracks”, “Dancing Bear” and “Bear Spirit” were their drums.

In the comfort of her home she would watch her great-grandchildren walk to and from school. She loved that as they walked by they would wave and she would say those are granddaughter Jessica Pierre’s children. Mama loved all of her kids so much.

Liz was a homemaker, a foster parent and fluent speaker of our language. One of her last jobs was as a grandparent language teacher for the Cherry Valley Elementary School in Polson. She really enjoyed being with children. She was a mother to many and will be dearly missed.

She was preceded in death by her parents Baptiste Hewankorn and Cecilia Youstah; sisters Agnes Alexander, Josephine “Juice Ball” Hewankorn and Threasa “Telah” Hewankorn; sons Patrick Pierre, Jr., John Pierre Sr., Louis Pierre and David Pierre; grandsons Marcus OneSalt and Vincent Mesteth and granddaughter Maurita Dawn Pierre.

Survivors include her daughters Mary “Sophie” Pierre Green and Margaret Rose (Antonio) Mendoza; sons Allen (Kelly) Pierre, Francis “Jazz” Pierre and Josh Pierre.

A wake began Saturday at the Longhouse in St. Ignatius with the rosary being recited on Monday evening in the Longhouse. Mass was be held on Tuesday at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church with burial following in the St. Ignatius Catholic Cemetery.

Mona Terese Fisher
ARLEE — On February 4, 2011, surrounded by her loving family, Mona Terese Fisher BigSam went home to her family and friends who went before her.

“Monzie” was born on January 19, 1959 to Bill and Violet Fisher. As her mother states, “one day Mona started walking, the next day she started running and no one could keep up with her.”

During her busy life she enjoyed fishing, hunting, target shooting, and spending time in the mountains with her family and friends.

She was welcomed by her husband Bruce; dad Bill; brother Ronald; aunts Toni and Lucille; uncles Al, Pat, Canny and George; and grandparents John and Caroline Stevens and Joe and Florence Fisher.

She leaves behind her mother Violet Fisher; daughter Michelle; son Louis “Mackey” and Crystal; daughter Crystal and daughter Cindy and Randon; grandsons Aaron, Dennis, Isaac, Billy, Louis, Mugivei(Wesley) and Sampson; sister Virginia and Jim; brothers Wm (Mickey) and Dacia, John and Dacia, Les and Roberta (Inj) and sister Christine; uncle Wes and Sally; aunt Dorsey and Dan and lots and lots of nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family.

Traditional wake services began Saturday at the Arlee Community Center with the Rosary being recited on Sunday. Funeral services were performed on February 7 with burial in the Jocko Cemetery where she was reunited with her husband.