May 25, 1917 – Aug. 11, 2008
Henry Loble, former district judge of the 1st Judicial District Court (Lewis and Clark and Broadwater counties) died at his home in San Francisco on Aug. 11, 2008, at the age of 91. He was twice elected to the District Court and served from 1983 through 1989 when he retired because of failing eyesight. He presided in the same courtroom in which his father, Judge Lester H. Loble, presided years earlier.
Henry was born in Helena on May 25, 1917, to Lester H. Loble and Charlotte Sillers Loble. Henry was a fourth-generation Montanan. His grandfather, Thomas Sillers, was a buffalo hunter, deputy sheriff, blacksmith, livery stable operator and was twice a Lewis and Clark county commissioner. His grandfather, Henry Loble, was a co-founder of the original New York Store in Helena.
Henry married Grayce Eckhardt in 1941. They had two sons, Lester H. Loble II of Big Sky, and C. Bruce Loble of Bozeman. Grayce and Henry divorced in 1979.
Henry married Doris McKeever of San Francisco, Calif., on June 4, 1996.
Henry resided primarily in Helena until 1993, when he moved to San Francisco. In his youth, he attended Central Grade School and Helena High School, where he was a member of the Helena High School football team which won the 1932 state championship. He attended Stanford University (BA 1938) and The University of Montana Law School (JD 1941).
Henry began the practice of law in Helena in 1941, joining his father, Lester H. Loble. His law practice was interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps for three and a half years and was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve in 1958 as a captain.
Following the war, he returned to private law practice until he was elected judge. Both Les and Bruce joined Henry in the Helena law practice following their graduation from law school at The University of Montana.
Henry was an excellent attorney. He had a broad private practice; spent decades as a lobbyist, practiced before governmental agencies and federal and state courts, and developed a specialty in water law. He served as the first chairman of the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission. He was a long-time member of the Western States Water Council. Early in his career, he was city attorney for East Helena and attorney for the Montana Aeronautics Commission.
He served three terms in the Montana Legislature (House of Representatives) from 1947 to 1953. In his second term he was majority floor leader. He believed in public and community service and was president, director or officer of many Helena organizations. He was president of the Montana State Bar Association and under his leadership it was transformed from a voluntary association to the unified State Bar of Montana. He was president of the Western States Bar Association and chancellor of the Jack Rabbit Bar Association. He was chairman of the Montana State Board of Institutions, a member and president of the Helena Lions Club, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a board member of the YMCA, and twice president of the Montana Club. He was a member and ordained elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Helena.
Henry enjoyed the outdoors. From the age of 14 he would disappear into the Bob Marshall or Heart Lake area for weeks at a time. He was an expert fly fisherman, hunter, backpacker, cross-country skier, licensed airplane pilot, certified SCUBA diver, and licensed back country wilderness guide. With his son, Les, he formed High Country Adventures and guided people into the wilderness areas of Montana on weeklong backpacking expeditions. He boated on Hauser and Canyon Ferry lakes and for many years the family had a cabin on the west shore of Canyon Ferry. Water skiing and SCUBA diving were the main interests. He was a runner for over 35 years and ran in many road races in Montana and other states.
In San Francisco, he and his wife, Doris, walked the city. Always the record keepers, they logged their miles with pedometers. During a typical year of his 80s, he logged 900 miles. Curious and culturally minded, both he and his wife attended the theater, lectures, the opera, symphony and art events, always on the lookout for interesting places to explore.
Henry remained mentally acute to the end. His nearly photographic memory meant that he was a rich source of stories and family history. He also retained his youthful appearance to the end with a full head of hair. He was proud to be the oldest member of the male line of the family. He was nearing his grandmother’s longevity when he passed away. Nonetheless, he knew his own mortality, that the end was approaching, and did not mourn it. As he said many times during the last few years, “I have had a good run.”
Henry was predeceased by his sister, Clarice Stadheim.
He is survived by his wife, Doris of San Francisco; son, Les (Terye) of Big Sky; son, Bruce (Sally) of Bozeman. His grandchildren include the children of Les and Terye: Jason (Sarah) of Helena, Jeremie of Missoula, and Rachel (Stefan) of New York City; and the sons of Bruce and Sally: Damon (Carolyn Winslow) of Los Angeles, Calif., and Chandler of Sunset Beach, Calif. His great-grandchildren include Kate and Mia, daughters of Jason and Sarah; Hannah and Leah, daughters of Jeremie; and Eden, daughter of Damon and Carolyn; two stepchildren, Chauncie Rodzianko of Tuxedo Park, N.Y., and Jill Mercer of Newton, Mass.; and three step-grandchildren.
He will be missed.
At Henry’s request, no service is planned.
Memorials may be made to the organization of the donor’s choice.
The Guest Book is expired.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 17, 2008