Andre Kukay

Andre "Andy" R. Kukay

Great Falls —Andre "Andy" R. Kukay, 100, of 1104 6th Ave N, a flight instrument technician with the USAAF Army Air Force, died of lymphoma on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at Peace Hospice.

Visitation will be at Schnider Funeral Home on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. A graveside service with military honors will take place in Highland Cemetery on Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 11:00 a.m., with Rev Steve VanGilder officiating. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Andy was born November 25, 1912 in Stockett, Montana, where he was raised and educated. He married Alta Marie Winn on November 9, 1940; she died in 2005. Andy and Alta built their first home, a log cabin on the west side.

Andy enlisted in the Army Air Corps September 22, 1942, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was an aircraft instrument mechanic and C1 autopilot instructor at Las Vegas Army Airfield.

He moved to Great Falls at the age of 15 and worked at the Great Falls Meat Packing Plant running the stuffing machine for 11 years. Following his honorable discharge on February 16, 1946, he worked for Civil Service for 17 years as an aircraft instrument technician at Malmstrom AFB. He also worked for Northern School Supply as a repair tech.

Andy was a member of the Masons for 63 years.

They enjoyed square dancing and dancing at the Green Mill Dance Auditorium, Ozark Club and Eden Dance Hall; traveling in their motor home to Mexico and around the United States as far north as Alaska; he repaired watches and clocks as a hobby and side jobs. Andy loved the outdoors traveling all over Montana, he owned a 1933 engine 45 Harley Davidson; which had disk wheels and a sheepskin seat; he was a private pilot from 1947/1948 and owned/ flew a Piper; his idol was Charles Lindberg, whose transatlantic flight Andy followed closely in 1927. In 1917, Andy saw his first plane, a biplane, fly across Stockett and land on a hill nearby. When he and his friends made it to the top of the hill, they found the pilot astraddle the engine making repairs. They stayed until he finished and took off. Andy was hooked. He loved the roar of a Harley Davidson engine, riding on motorcycles and flying in airplanes.

He enjoyed bingo and listening to piano by Jean DeRusha and accordion music by Austin Haney; following the end of WWI in 1918, Andy remembers watching the returning troops march into Stockett during a welcome home parade. The Montana Honor Flight hosted Andy and his beloved companion Casey on a trip in September of 2012 to Washington DC as a WWII veteran to see all of the war memorials, especially the WWII Monument. His secret to longevity is chicken noodle soup at Perkins and root beer floats. Everyone will remember his famous quote "So be it" and his favorite poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee". The family thanks Dr. Mel Margaris and his father, Dr. Margaris, Dr. Ozog, Dr. Matsko and Peace Hospice for their exceptional care. Cambridge Place and staff, where Andy lived with joy for the past seven years, are remember as well, and thanked.

Andy is survived by nephews and nieces, Richard (Paula) Kukay, Russell (Stephanie) Kukay, Warren Kukay, Dori (Ray) Abrahamson, Ray (Jane) Smerker, Julia (Sid) Young, Wayne (Patricia) Connell, Paul Kukay, Mike Kukay, Kathy McCarthy, and Patti Kluksdahl; and numerous great and great great nieces and nephews. He is also survived by close personal friends, Casey and Joe Furr.

Andy was preceded in death by his wife, Alta in 2005; his parents, Michael and Julia Baron Kukay; brothers and sisters Mike (Myrtle), John (Eileen), Helen (Jerry) Connell, infant sister Lucille Kukay, Mary Lynch (Matt Smerker), Eddie (Pat Kukay); nieces, Marilyn Kukay and Peggy Connell; nephews David and Dennis Smerker; and great great nephew infant Kukay.

The family suggests memorials in Andy's name to Big Sky Honor Flight, PO Box 80201, Billings, MT 59108.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com.

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Funeral Home

Schnider Funeral Home
1510 13th Street South Great Falls, MT 59405-4501
(406) 727-1368

Published in Great Falls Tribune on July 16, 2013