Charles Conn

Charles E. Conn

Fort Benton —Charles Edward Conn passed away early morning hours of Monday, February 17, 2014. He passed and joined his two daughters, Billie and Lynda. A memorial service with military honors will be held Friday, February 21 at 2 pm at First Christian Church in Fort Benton.

Charles was born January 28, 1920 to Samuel and Edna (Smith) Conn in Sutton, Nebraska. He spent his early childhood in Nebraska on a farm. He later came to Montana with his parents and two older brothers, Ervin and Lester. Their homestead was located in the Goose Bill area of Chouteau County. They returned to Nebraska but couldn't stay away from Montana, and returned to repurchase the homestead.

Charles entered the service on April 16, 1942. He was assigned to the Headquarters Company, 5th Tank Destroyer Group. During this time he was with the Special Forces, who had the guts to go into battle with very little protection and "seek out, strike and destroy" enemy tanks before they could do harm to other U.S. Forces. The fatality rate was very high among tank destroyer soldiers. Their courage is saluted by a special exhibit at the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. Charles served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He received the Good Conduct Medal, the Bronze Star, and the American Service Medal. He landed in the U.S. on October 18, 1945 and left the service ten days later.

Charles met his bride, Mary Ann Maki, in Neihart, Montana and they married May 8, 1943. They had three daughters, Betty (1944), Billie (1947) and Lynda (1948). The joy for these girls was their horses and the enduring love of their parents.

Charles and Mary Ann purchased the farm from his dad. After purchasing the homestead from his dad, he and his helpmate, Mary Ann, began their life of farming, raising wheat, barley, a few head of cow, and three little girls and their horses. Charles and Mary Ann remained on the farm until they retired in 1989. Not mentally retired, Charles took up woodworking, with a shop the envy of all who saw it, and later did auto restoration of a '49 Ford, '67 VW Bug, '54 Chevy and several others.

Once he was asked to play the drums at a birthday party, and after that gig, he was requested drummer for the next 30 years. He drummed for the "Lamp Lighters" of Chester and the "Aces" of Great Falls, playing the Elks, Moose Lodge, Eagles, and in several states and Canada. A gifted musician, he was able to play all instruments. Being left handed, he played his accordion upside down, which was a marvel to many.

Charles is survived by his loving wife and soul mate of 70+ years, Mary Ann, and daughter Betty Joanne McIntosh. He was preceded in death by daughters Lynda (age 59 in April of 2007) and Billie (age 60 in December of 2007); his brothers Ervin and Lester; and his parents, Samuel and Edna (Smith) Conn.

Charlie, as many called him, passed on his love of Country, his flag, and music, plus his total honesty to his girls. He will be missed.

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Published in Great Falls Tribune on Feb. 19, 2014