Michael James Stephens, a.k.a. "Borkus," passed away on Oct. 18, 2016, at his home-away-from-home in Belgrade at the age of 70. He was born to James W. Stephens and Mabel L. Stephens on July 29, 1946. Michael was raised on the farm east of Dutton, Montana, where he attended and graduated from Dutton High School (Go Cardinals!) in 1964. Following high school, he attended Northern Montana College and returned home to join with his father farming. He quickly grew tired of farm work and rock picking and, believing it to be a better alternative, enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served two terms in Vietnam and was honorably discharged. Farm life east of Dutton called him back, and in 1975 he married the farm girl down the road, Katrina Wilson. Their union produced one son, Colin Michael Stephens. The couple divorced in 1979. Michael was then seduced by the Sirens' song of the big city and moved to Bozeman to run the family-owned motel/apartment business, The Bobcat Lodge. Michael lorded over his motel fiefdom for several decades causing mischief and tormenting Bobcat football players who were unfortunate enough to rent an apartment. Following his retirement from and the subsequent sale of The Bobcat Lodge, Michael moved to Belgrade. He then purchased a former bar near Gibson Dam on the Sun River, and converted it into a cabin where his door was always open and the party never ended.
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Michael's life was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde Story. In his later years, he developed a deep and lasting love affair with Crown Royal whiskey which often masked the friendly, kind, generous, loved-by-most, intelligent person he was on the inside. Michael survived a war, flying a crop duster, angry Bobcat football players, cancer, and a heart attack, but his body finally grew weary of the fight and the booze won. He will be missed in the hearts and minds of all of his friends and family.
Michael is survived by his son, Colin Stephens; his daughter-in-law, Nicole (Odden) Stephens; his granddaughters, Alexi and Beatrix Stephens; his brother, David Stephens; his sister, Jill Stephens; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; his uncle Robert "Dooley" Stephens, and his dear friend, Maria Evanson (John).
Please join with friends and family for one last round in honor of Michael/Borkus at the Dutton American Legion hall on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, at 4 p.m. Food will also be provided.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 1, 2016