On April 6, 2011, Delbert E. "Gene" White passed away at his home in Bozeman, Mont. He was born May 3, 1918, in Williamstown, Kansas, the fourth child of Nina (Marshall) and Clarence White.
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When Gene was three years old, the family left Kansas, lived for a brief time in Colorado, and then moved to Powell, Wyo., in a covered wagon drawn by horses. After graduating from Powell County High School in 1936, Gene worked in Yellowstone Park mixing cement and building the stone guardrails which still stand today. His next job was building new lines for Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company in Wyoming.
But Gene and his brother, Carl, wanted to ranch, so in 1938, they came to Montana. They worked with State Bank and Trust in Dillon to make a deal on a cow/calf lease at Wise River, Montana. To help pay the grocery bills, they sold cream and eggs to the Butte Creamery. In less than two years, however, their dreams started vanishing. Gene had developed an allergy to sunlight. He sold his "Old Vineyard" ranch and became a fireman for the Northern Pacific Railroad.
It was while working for the railroad that he met Georgia White, a telegrapher at the depot in Townsend, Mont. They were married in Butte, Mont., on May 17, 1945. Before a year had passed, after brief stays in Helena, Billings, and Butte, Gene, Georgia, and a three-week-old baby daughter moved back to Wyoming. Gene went to work again for his favorite boss at the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company. The job took the family to many towns all over Wyoming, and a baby son came along while they were in Worland.
Then in 1948, Gene's brother, Carl, developed leukemia, so Gene and his family returned to Wise River to help out until Carl's place sold.
In 1950, Gene began a thirty-two year career working as a lineman/manager for the Montana Power Company in Sheridan, Mont. Another son joined the family in 1954. After the three children finished high school and or college, Gene and Georgia returned to ranching. They bought a small place in Laurien, Mont. For thirteen years each spring, they purchased calves, watch them graze and gain weight all summer, and then sell them in the fall. This routine allowed for travel to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and nearly all of the lower 48 states.
Walking was Gene's favorite exercise, and his hobbies were hunting and riding horses. Another interest was the Masonic Lodge. He was a fifty-year member of Dillon #16, and also belonged to Virginia City #1.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, and his four sisters, Audrey, Melva, Mildred, and Mary; and two nieces, Carla and Donna. He is survived by Georgia, his wife of nearly 66 years; his daughter, Kathie (Ken "Doc") Elder of Helena; his son, Gary (Carmen) White of Vacaville, Calif., and his son, Dee Jay (Pam) White of Houston, Texas. He will also be missed by four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and many friends.
At Gene's request, he was cremated and no services will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations to a favorite charity may be made in his name.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 10, 2011