Emmett Francis Birrer was born on June 19, 1923 in Dell, Mont. He lived on a ranch in Beaverhead County until 1937 when his folks sold the ranch and moved to Hamilton, Mont. Emmett graduated from Hamilton High School in 1941. Later, he attended a pre-Naval radio school in Helena and then entered the Navy in June 1943. He was directly dispatched to schools in Michigan City, Ind., and Utah State College in Logan, Utah. Then he finished his training at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. From there he was stationed at the Naval Air Station on North Island in San Diego. He was transferred overseas where he spent his last two years of Naval service as a radar plane identification specialist on the island of Guam.
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After his military service, Emmett entered Montana State College in Bozeman where he graduated in 1952. He became the sales manager at Kessler Dairy Corporation and that same year he met his future bride, Janice. They were married April 12, 1953. Their first son was born April 13, 1954 and the next year they moved to Butte where Emmett was the department manager for house wares and sporting goods with the Hennessy Company. Their second son, Mark, was born March 12, 1957. After three years, they returned to Bozeman where Emmett was the sales manager with Gallatin Lumber Company. He held the position until 1961 when the family moved to Chicago (daughter Sherri was just seven months old). After a year in private business, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland where Emmett was in private retail business for 10 years. They lived in Portland, Ore. for just one year before returning to Bozeman where they purchased Thompson Floor Covering in 1972. They operated this retail and commercial business until 1980 when they sold their building and retail inventory and just operated commercial floor covering contracts in the Western U.S. until 1989 when Emmett retired.
Emmett was a member of the Bozeman Elks Club, the Noon Kiwanis Club and a charter member of the Bridger Kiwanis Club. He and Janice were active members of Riverside Country Club. Emmett was a board member of RCC and also the golf marshal for a few years. He spent years golfing at his favorite club. Emmett had a strong faith and was active at Grand Avenue Christian Church for many years. In 2001, he and Janice became affiliated with Grace Bible Church where he attended regularly until his declining health in the past year. Emmett was in the men's pilot class for Bible Study Fellowship and was proud to be a graduate of the seven-year study of BSF.
Janice and Emmett had many years golfing, fishing, camping and spent winters in the south with their motor home. It came time to slow down a bit so in 2006 they moved to Highgate Senior Living where they both lived together until August 2008 when Janice was moved to the Gallatin County Rest Home. In August 2009, Emmett moved to Springmeadows Assisted Living. Approximately two months later, Janice was able to move to Springmeadows as well. After living apart for over a year, they were able to be back together again for six months until Janice passed away on March 3, 2010. Emmett continued to live at Springmeadows until his death Nov. 6, 2013.
Emmett was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Margaret Birrer (Deatch); four brothers, Clarus, Clifford (Stub), Herschel (Jeep) and Ted; four sisters, Dorothy Houston, Rita Mecham, Adelaide Beardslee and Rachel Farrington and his beloved wife, Janice, of almost 57 years. Emmett is survived by one sister, Ruby Sheppard; two sons, Steve (Sue) of Idaho Falls, Idaho and Mark (Laurie) of Boise, Idaho and daughter, Sherri Bradley (Mitch) of Bozeman. He is also survived by his seven grandchildren, Bret Birrer (Lindsey), Bryan Birrer, Cory Bradley (Bridget), Alex Birrer, Melissa Bradley, Ben Birrer and Hunter Birrer as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Nov. 17, at Dokken-Nelson Sunset Chapel, with Pastor Warren Hiebert presiding. A luncheon and celebration of Emmett's life will follow.
It was Emmett's request that memorial contributions be made to St. Jude's Children Fund. Arrangements are in care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Nov. 10 to Nov. 13, 2013