Alex LaFontaine, 85, a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe and longtime resident of Missoula, passed away at Missoula Health and Rehab on September 19, 2019. Alex was born on July 25, 1934 in Arlee, MT to Adeline Squeque Finley/Joscum and George LaFontaine. Alex was the oldest child of 12 born to Adeline and was born in a time where only our Salish language was spoke and our traditional and cultural values were part of their everyday life. Alex was raised in Arlee in his younger years and even though he was cared for by his Mother, he was mainly raised by his great Grandmother, Mary Kaltomee (sackwoman) and other elders and family members of his time. Other relatives that were elders to him from that time that had a big impact on Alex was his great aunt Catherine Kaltomee/Eneas and great aunt Adeline Stevens/Fyant.
Uncle Alex was also born in a time that when he was really young and being raised by his Mother and other close family, and being taught the values of being a Native American, speaking our language amongst one another fluently with no English, it was inevitable that the time would come for him to be brought to school weather it be by choice or by being forced. Once his school age came, that is when Alex attended the Ursulines boarding school in St.Ignatius, Pierre boarding school in S.D and also attended other schools throughout his younger years before he eventually enlisted into the U.S Navy. Uncle Alex was very proud to be a veteran, but like most vets, he did not talk to much about his experiences throughout his time in the Navy, other than small short stories here and there. Alex had a passion for crossword puzzles and would request the hardest ones if possible. Alex also enjoyed reading no matter what it was. Weather it be the newspaper, the farmers almanac, or just something that caught his eye. He loved traveling around between Missoula, Helena, Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Oakland Bay area and San Diego C.A. At some point, Uncle Alex went to beauty school in Helena and from what has been said, Alex was really good at cutting hair. Alex eventually settled in Missoula later on in life with his sister Ursula (whom was like a Mom to him), and together they made a great team. Uncle Alex dedicated so much valuable time and energy into being there for the family and his sister Ursula, with whatever it was he could.
In his younger years, and probably because of his military experience, Alex always enjoyed dressing up. He would iron his shirts, crease his pants and wear shiny penny loafer dress shoes. And talk about a clean freak, Alex found that cleaning was very relaxing for him, and he would ensure that everything he cleaned was done at least twice. Alex was also a seamstress and liked to sew weather it was a pair of socks that had a tear in it or some curtains that needed hemmed. Alex really enjoyed traveling and at one point and time he had himself a nice shiny Cadillac that made him have a big ole grin whenever he would show up to visit. Uncle Alex also had a soft heart when it came to animals and the family pets we’ve had growing up, all knew that it was guaranteed they were going to get, not just “A” treat, but more like multiple treats.
Alex was preceded in death by his parents; Adeline Squeque Finley/Joscum and George LaFontaine, sisters; Ursula M. Thomas, Mary Louise Joscum/BlueSky, Mary Christine “Tina” Joscum/Zachry, Virginia M. Joscum/Moreno, MaryRose Joscum/Funk, Mary Alice Joscum, and Mabel Joscum/Lucero, brother; James “Jim” Joscum/Cahoon and George A. Joscum. Alex is survived by his brother; Joseph A. Joscum and sisters; Mari Ulmer (St.Ignatius), Judy Joscum/Roy, nephews; Mark, Dino, Monte and Terry Thomas, Kai-T BlueSky, Alan Joscum, Manny Littlewolf, Leo and Vincent Zachry, Charlie and Frank Moreno, Marco Houle, Paris and Blue Roy, Jamal, Justin, Joshua, Jarred and Jordan Cahoon, Michael and Conan Ulmer. Nieces; Dawn Blue Sky/Hill, Adele Blue Sky, Holly Blue Sky/Rey, Carol Jean Joscum, Donna Moreno, Angela, Monica and Gabrielle Houle/Hewankorn, Nicole Callahan/Clary, Jennica Mesteth, Jolyn, Chrissa and Savannah Fisher, Julie Cahoon, Jamie Chaoon/Lozeau, Jessi Cahoon. Uncle Alex has many more great nieces and nephews and other relatives whom he held close to his heart.
The family of Alex would like to thank the staff at Missoula Health and Rehab for everything they did for our Uncle. Without your compassion for patient care, our Uncle might not have made it to the age of 85. Thank you to all the staff at Hospice of Missoula for being there for our Uncle and ensuring that he be kept as comfortable as possible with medicine and extra care. Also a special thank you to all the Doctors at St. Pats hospital and their medical team for being there and treating Alex the best you could. Last but not least, thank you to anyone who took the time to go visit Uncle Alex, or call him or even send him a card.
Wake services for Alex started on Friday, September 20 at Foster Funeral Home in St. Ignatius. On Sunday, September 22, we moved Uncle Alex to the community center in Arlee on powwow road. Funeral services were held on Monday, September 23. At Jocko cemetery, full military honors at his graveside were observed.