Albert William Thurber, 75, died of natural causes, Friday, Aug. 31, doing one of the things he loved best - fishing with one of his grandchildren near the family cabin.
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His funeral is 2 p.m. today at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1401 9th St NW, with burial following in Highland Cemetery. Croxford Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Bert was born in Great Falls on Jan. 19, 1937, to Daniel Pratt Thurber and Myrle Rose Seegmiller Thurber. The first years of his life were spent at the Great Falls fairgrounds, where his father was the manager of the North Montana State Fair and Rodeo. Bert and his young friends spent many hours exploring the buildings, and the fair became an im-portant part of his life. It was while living at the fairgrounds that he raised his first 4-H calf, a tradition that was passed to his children and became an important part of their family life. He served in many 4-H leadership positions through the years and passed his love of agriculture and livestock on to countless young people.
When Bert was 11, his father purchased a farm in Manchester. While living on the farm, Bert's young life was transformed. He learned to love hard work and embraced every part of farm life, a love that would continue with him for the rest of his life.
It was while preparing for a 4-H skit that he met the love of his life, Myrna Hansen. Al-though they both dated others, Bert said that he always knew that she was the one that he wanted to marry. When she was 15, he "asked" her to marry him. As marriage licenses cost $2, he took two silver dollars and put them in his drawer, preparing for the day when they would be old enough to marry. Shortly after Myrna graduated from high school, he offered a more serious proposal at the Burgermaster Drive-In on 10th Avenue South. To his delight, she accepted his proposal, and they were married in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple on Sept. 3, 1958. After their marriage, they began a life of commitment and de-votion to each other. As Bert wrote in his autobiography, "Myrna is the best wife and mother any man could be blessed to have. She has been my beacon of light for the past 53 years, for which I will always be grateful."
Bert graduated with a degree in dairy production from Montana State College and, after serving in the military, returned to the family farm in Manchester. There, he and Myrna raised their five children, teaching them the values of family, faith, working and having fun together.
Due to the uncertainties of farming in a flood zone, Bert changed careers and became a successful stockbroker and office manager for D.A. Davidson. Bert served two terms on the Great Falls School Board. He also authored a bi-weekly article in the Montana Farmer Stockman initially titled "On My Farm," but switching to "On and Off My Farm" when he left the farm and took the job at D.A. Davidson. He never forgot his love of farming and in retirement bought back much of the land that he had previously sold.
Bert was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served in many leadership positions, including bishop, and serving in the stake presidency. He touched countless lives through his service and example. He and Myrna also served three missions for the church, two in New Jersey and an additional mission in Washington, D.C.
Nothing was more important to Bert than spending time with his family. He loved taking family members on legendary "ThurberFests" in fun locations like Disneyland, Disney World, Hawaii and whichever city happened to be hosting the NCAA Final Four Basket-ball Tournament. As a family, we are so grateful that we had one last Orlando "Thurber-Fest" with Bert in May of this year. In return for his boundless generosity, he only asked that family members offer a simple "thank you," which was always returned by Bert with his own expression of appreciation and a huge bear hug.
Bert is survived by his wife, Myrna, and their five children, Lynda (Jim) Morin, Sydne (Darryl) Jacques, Lesly (Steve) Morton, Dan (Jill) Thurber and Brad (Amber) Thurber. He is further survived by 16 grandchildren, each of whom Bert adored. One of his grand-daughters, unable to find a better man anywhere on the planet, asked Grandpa Bert if he would be her prom date, an invitation that he was happy to accept.
One of his favorite places to spend time with those that he loved was at the family cabin located on Blacktail Creek, north of the Gibson Dam. Bert had often remarked to his family that, rather than getting too old to enjoy life, he would simply follow Blacktail Creek upstream and pass quietly from this life. Although his family and friends will miss him more than we can possibly express, that is exactly what he did.
We love and miss him, but we know that if we live our lives as he did, we will be re-united with him again. Grandpa Bert, thank you for everything.
Memorials are suggested to the Cascade County 4H Foundation, 3300 3rd St NE #9, Great Falls, MT 59404, or the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation c/o Dave Crum, 1100 4th St. S., Great Falls, MT 59405.
Condolences to the family may be left at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com and/or www.greatfallstribune.com.
Published in Great Falls Tribune from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, 2012