Earl C. Kraft, 89, of Bozeman, passed away Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at Gallatin Rest Home.
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Earl was born June 21, 1921, to Walter Charles and Marietta Helen (Poor) Kraft, on a ranch south of Bozeman. When he was a young boy, the family moved to his grandparents' farm on Hyalite Road, now South 19th Avenue. He attended rural school at the Leverich School, on South 3rd Road; was active in the local 4-H Club; and graduated from Gallatin County High School in 1939.
He was a farmer all his life. He married Melva Mae Skank on May 25, 1939, and in 1944, they moved to the old Huddleston Farm on Hyalite Road, directly south of his parents' farm. In 1967, they moved to Hamilton Road where they spent the remainder of their lives. He actively farmed until he was 85.
He was a member of the Masons, Chapter 18, in Bozeman, where he served as a trustee for 12 years, and was a member of the Temple Board of Directors, and served on the DeMolay Board. He served as Master Mason in 1954 and Worshipful Master in 1961. He joined the Royal Arch Masons, Zona Chapter #12, in 1958, and was Excellent High Priest in 1975. On April 29, 1961, in Livingston, he was selected Royal Master of #10. He also was a charter member of Chan McKenzie Council #16, and was Illustrious Master in 1971. He joined the Knights Templar and was St. Johns Commander #12 in Bozeman. In 1968, he was Eminent Commander. He received the Knights of the York Cross of Honor on June 7, 1977 in Lewistown, Montana, Priory #51.
Earl was a director on the rural Leverich School Board for 12 Years; a director on the Middlecreek Water Users Association, and served 12 years as a director on the Board of Gallatin Farmers Co. He also served on the FHA Board of Advisors, and was an ASCS committee member.
Earl loved the outdoors, including hunting, fishing, baseball, hockey, snowmobiling, and horseshoes. He enjoyed family picnics and other gatherings. He was forever joking and teasing, and making people laugh. He was always there for his sons and grandchildren, and anyone who ever needed help.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Melva Mae; parents and four brothers.
Earl is survived by one brother, Glen; sons, Charles (Pat), Melvin (Carol), Dale (Mary), and Keith (Sandi). He is also survived by nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, at Dokken-Nelson Sunset Chapel. Interment will follow in Sunset Hills Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children, P.O. Box 2472, Spokane, WA., 99210.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 16, 2011