POLSON - Lyle Baxter, 94, died of natural causes Friday, Aug. 5, at his home in Polson.
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A memorial service celebrating his life is 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Polson Community Church. Grogan Funeral Home in Polson is handling the arrangements.
Lyle was born in Helena April 26, 1917, to Ross and Mabel Baxter on their 7th anniversary. A Montana cowboy, he learned to ride, rope, build or fix darned near everything. He was hired to lasso chimneys off homes dam-aged during the 1935 earth-quakes, earning treats from grateful families. He finished high school in railroad cars that replaced the damaged school. He later spent several months in a body cast, having barely survived a car wreck. He struggled quietly from lifelong pain, but his deter-mination to "get it done" rarely faltered.
Dad married Ruth Powell, of Biddle, Montana, July 11, 1942. After serving as civilian aircraft communicators in Alaska during WWII, they returned to Montana. He worked on the road, apprais-ing and/or negotiating rights of way for the Montana highway department, Montana Power, and others. He worked in all 56 counties, while living in Helena, Billings, and Great Falls, eventually moving, in 1967, to Polson with a job at Flathead Agency. He later returned to independent work and more years travelling. One favorite assignment was appraising cabin sites along the Thompson River, spending days conducting research, and evenings with his son Jerry by a campfire in the woods, enjoying the quiet beauty of God's creation.
Lyle retired in the 1980s, saying he didn't have time to work any more, and finally built his dream woodworking shop and home. His fingerprints are truly in our homes as well as our hearts, as we look at remodel projects, furniture and garages he built, and wiring jobs completed. Things he built will long be with us, as he built stout and strong. He also memorized cowboy poems, including "Strawberry Roan" and "Pert-Near Perkins".
Dad enjoyed square dancing with Mom, taking us camping, and teaching us to play cards so he could "clean our clocks." At his annual Swan Fishing Trip, guys played cards, enjoyed a beer, and shared laughter and fun.
Dad's life was one of quiet ser-vice to family, friends, and the Lord. He took us to church, and was active in Moose, Masons and Elks, working projects behind the scenes or washing dishes at potluck dinners. He spent count-less hours helping build Cane Ridge West church camp in Lincoln in the 1980s as well as the Polson Community Church in his 80s.
Lyle & Ruth celebrated 69 years of marriage by being each other's "Left and Right" with fun, good humor, patience and love. Lyle passed away Friday at home in Polson. He was preceded in death by many family and friends, including sister Louise, and grandson Sam.
Survivors include his wife Ruth, children Jerry (Brenda) of Clancy, Bruce (Janice) of Missoula, Keith, of Philipsburg and Jeannene (Wynne) of Helena; grandkids Amanda, Jenn (Jeff), Drake, Sharene (Fred), David, Michael, Ronda, Angel (Byron) and Mike; and great-grandchildren Kalen, Kiyana, Jordan, Daeden, Dylan, Kourtney, Jessica and Bodie. Also surviving are niece Jane, cousins Gerrie and Gene, and godchildren Carol Swan and Dick Trerise. To our many friends, we appreciate all your love, prayers, support, encouragement, food, fun, card games, and chocolate!
Lyle summed up his own life many times:
"I've been so blessed! I've always had a job when I wanted one - never known true hunger - always had a roof over my head - and been surrounded by family and good friends."
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to your charity of choice. Condolences may be posted online at www.groganfuneralhome.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 8, 2011