Howard Axtman

Howard J. Axtman

Fort Benton —Howard John Axtman, 82, well know John Deere equipment dealer, farm equipment appraiser, and long time resident of Fort Benton passed away at his home from natural causes on Monday March 31, 2014 surrounded by his family.

Services for Howard will include a Vigil and rosary Sunday April 6th at 7:00 pm and Funeral Mass on Monday April 7th at 11:00 am, both at the Immaculate Conception Catholic church at 1223 16th St. in Fort Benton. Interment will follow the funeral at the Riverside Cemetery.

Howard was born on Friday April 13, 1931 in Balta North Dakota to John M. and Barbara (Senger) Axtman. He was the 5th of 7 children and crew up on the farm enduring the hard time of the Great Depression. He attended grade school in Balta, learning to speak English there. His father tool a job working for the Great Northern Railroad in Great Falls, MT in 1939, where they lived for many years. Howard attended school in Great Falls and as a freshman, he attended St. Edwards Catholic Seminary near Seattle, WA for a little over a year before returning to Black Eagle. As a youth he worked delivering groceries for a local market and learned how to drive, he had a paper route with the Great Falls Tribune delivering a record 268 papers in the Black Eagle area every morning and then sold the leader evening paper in downtown Great Falls. Howard moved to Fort Benton where he attended High School graduating in 1949. During his time at FBHS, he met the first love of his life Patricia St. Peter who he married in late 1950 while in Seattle WA.

Howard joined the US Navy and served during the Korean Conflict from late 1950 thru late 1953 being stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and Tokyo Japan. He was honorable discharged as an Engineman 3rd Class in San Diego California and headed back to his new family in Fort Benton as well as his job with the John Deere implement dealership. He became the dealership manager in 1955 and acted in that position until 1986 when he left to move "up the hill" and started his own business, Axtman Farm Equipment.

His first wife Patty passed away in April of 1969 and he met the second love of his life Delores Marie Cook from Big Sandy and they were married on December 13th, 1969 until his passing on Monday.

Howard was community minded and believed in serving and supporting his town. He worked with and belonged to many organizations including: Charter member of Knights of Columbus Marion Council, Boy Scout troop leader and scout master for 18 years, life member of Fort Benton Kiwanis Club, Charter member of Fort Benton Jaycees, Civil Defense director 1962 to 1967, Fort Benton City Council 8 years, Mayor of Fort Benton 4 years, President of MT Hardware and Implement Dealers Association, Chairman of MT League of Cities and Towns, Charter member of Chouteau County Tractor Pullers, Chairman Chouteau County 4-H Premium Fund for 12 years, member of immaculate Conception Church Parish 67 years, and advisor to the Helena VoTech Center diesel tech department. He also helped and contributed too many civic projects over his life time in Fort Benton with his time and talent. He believed in our youth and gave many of them the opportunity to work and earn money and experience.

Many people will remember Howard for his hobby over the last 40 years, his garden and all it yielded. Howard and Delores loved to raise all the great vegetables they could during the summer, both in the Shonkin Mountains and his "secret" garden near Fort Benton. They enjoyed giving this bounty away to family and friends. If you were ever on the list, you know. From potatoes to pickles, he enjoyed giving.

Howard is survived by his wife of 44 years, Delores, sons Roger (Deanna) and Russ of Fort Benton, Rodney of Raleigh North Carolina, and daughter Ann Marie (Dan) Mills-Low of Huntley. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren: Thad, Coleman, Brittiany, Andelyn, Rodney, Emily, Sam, Kayle, Kelly, Kylan, Corbyn, Keyara and 9 great-grandchildren: Alyssa, Dane, Hayden, Morgan, Emilia, Nicole, Kaleb, Jordan, Dylan. Howard has remaining brothers, Ed (Delores) Axtman of Canyon Ferry MT and George Axtman of Arizona.

He was preceded in his passing by his parents, wife Patty, infant son Michael and brothers Harry and sisters, Victoria Morger, Delores Brown, and Hildegard Axtman.

Howard was am man of his faith and had a strong belief in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord. He will be missed by his loving wife, our Dad, Granddad and great Grandpa, but know he is going before us marked with the true sign of faith.

The family wishes to thank the forever caring care givers from Peace Hospice for all they did for Howard these last few months. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to any of the following: Peace Hospice, PO Box 804, Fort Benton MT 59442, Florence Dedman Animal Shelter Foundation, PO Box 1282, Fort Benton MT 59442, or .

Condolences can be made to

Funeral Home

1201 FRONT ST Fort Benton, MT 59442
(406) 622-3621

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 3, 2014