Bary Poletto

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Bary Poletto, 70, of Great Falls, a U.S. Navy veteran, died of cancer Monday, Jan. 21, at Peace Hospice.

A memorial service is 1 p.m. Saturday at Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Chapel. Inurnment will take place at Hillcrest Mausoleum, with a reception to follow at Schnider Funeral Home. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Bary was born May 8, 1942, in Great Falls, to John Poletto and Florence (Olgardt) Poletto. He graduated from Great Falls High School in 1960 and attended the College of Great Falls before joining the U.S. Navy, where he reached the rank of Hospital Apprentice at Naval Hospital Balboa in San Diego. Following his discharge from the Navy, he toured the West Coast and Canada as a concert accordionist, a skill he would practice for the rest of his life. He then worked for Pan American Airlines until returning to Great Falls, where he began a long career in the Cascade County Assessor's Office. During this time, he also coached Little League and was active in the Great Falls community.

Bary was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and was a co-founder of both the Treasure State Model Club and the Malmstrom AFB Museum. He is best known, however, for the Poletto Model Aircraft Collection at the Great Falls International Airport, the largest collection of its kind in the world. The Poletto Collection drew people worldwide to view it and is mentioned in several books on the Great Falls and Cascade County area as an attraction. Besides Bary's lifelong interest in model building and his skill as an accordionist, he was also a fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Bary is survived by his wife, Nancy Poletto of Great Falls; stepsons Benjamin Donnelly and Matthew Donnelly of Great Falls; cousins James P. Poletto, Jeannie Poletto Bixler and Rosalie "Rosie" Egan, all of Great Falls, Danny Poletto of Tucson, Ariz., Rose Marie Poletto Clancy of Menomonee Falls, Wisc., and James Peretti of Great Falls; and beloved dog and companion, Justen.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Animal Foundation of Great Falls, PO Box 3426, Great Falls, MT 59403-3426.

Condolences may be posted online at and/or

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Jan. 25, 2013
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