John Stanley "Stan" Milesnick, long-time Gallatin County rancher, died peacefully July 21, 2013.
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Stan was born to John and Rose Milesnick on Dec. 8, 1921 in Mecaha, Mont. He was the only son in a family of five sisters. He attended Musselshell Elementary School and Lewistown High School until the family homestead was displaced by construction of Fort Peck Reservoir. In 1936, they moved their ranching operation to Dry Creek Road north of Belgrade. Stan graduated from Belgrade High School in 1938. In 1942, he was the first student to graduate from Montana State College (University) in Range Management.
Stan was very patriotic, enrolled in Advanced ROTC at MSC and began active duty as a Second Lieutenant in the Second Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. His unit landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day plus One and after marching across Europe also played a key role in the Battle of the Bulge campaign. Wounded twice in battle, he received the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf and was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in Combat. It was not until nearly 60 years later that he learned he had previously earned and was belatedly awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for Extraordinary Heroism during the Battle of the Bulge. (The medal was presented at a ceremony at the National Guard Armory in August 2011.) Captain Milesnick was honorably discharged from the military in 1945.
Stan returned to the Gallatin Valley to ranch with his parents. He met his future wife, Joyce Aughney, at a Belgrade school dance. They were married on a freezing morning Jan. 2, 1947 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. They continued to ranch and raised their five children there. Stan was a man of integrity and led by example.
Stan volunteered his time generously and was a community leader. He served on the Belgrade School Board of Trustees for nine years, chairing the board some of those years. He assisted many 4-Hers as an Ag Leader in the Dry Creek 4-H club for more than 10 years. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus more than 65 years and an active member of the American Legion in Belgrade. As a member of the VFW, he often carried colors in the Honor Guard and was an organizer of the Belgrade Rodeo.
Stan was committed to agriculture and served on the Board of Directors of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. In addition to being a long-time director, he was also elected Chairman of the Federal Land Bank Board. He served 27 years on the Board of Directors of First Security Bank. He was a long-time member and Past President of the Gallatin Beef Producers. He helped form the Park Gallatin Marketing Association. He was awarded numerous conservation awards and was named the Gallatin County Beef Producer of the Year.
Stan loved riding his Livingston range, loved to fish and loved family dinners and picnics. He regularly attended MSU rodeos and basketball games. After retirement, he and Joyce enjoyed traveling to Australia and New Zealand and to visit family around the country.
Stan was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rose Milesnick, and one sister, Mabel Lanier.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joyce of Belgrade; sons, Tom (Mary Kay) Milesnick of Belgrade and Ted (Patti) Milesnick of Boise, Idaho and daughters, Susan Sager of McMinnville, Ore., Sally (Tom) Sullivan of Cusick, Wash. and Jan (Paul) Davis of McMinnville, Ore.; grandchildren, Ryan (Becky) Milesnick, John (Desiree) Milesnick, Jeff Milesnick, Sheila Nielsen-Preiss, Rob (Elizabeth) Milesnick, Katie (Casey) Walker, Casey (Jayda) Sager, Mark (Stephanie) Sullivan, Sarah Sullivan, Beth Davis, and Scott Davis; and great-grandchildren, Ellie, Kyle, Makinzey, Tommy, Michael, Grant, and Isla. He is also survived by his sisters, Lillian Reed of Kennewick, Wash., Dorothy Otte of Schenectady, N.Y., Toni Thompson, Bozeman, Mont. and Delores Furst, Great Falls, Mont.
Memorials in Stan's name can be made to Montana Stockgrowers Assoc. (REEF) fund, 420 N. California St., Helena, MT 59601 or Shodair Children's Hospital, 2755 Colonial Dr., Helena, MT 59601 or the
Visitation, 6 p.m.; Rosary, 7 p.m., both Thursday at St. John Vianney (Valley of Flowers) in Belgrade. Funeral Mass, 10 a.m., Friday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church followed by interment at Sunset Hills Cemetery.
Stan's family wants to thank everyone who helped, especially: Dr. John Robbins; Ted Preiss, PA; Hospice of Southwest Montana; Gallatin Rest Home; and the Bob Stulc family.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 24, 2013