Otto Bentsen

Otto Bentsen, 94, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Wednesday, Jan. 16, at a local care facility.

Funeral service is 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Fulkerson Funeral Home in Plentywood, with interment following in Plentywood Memorial Cemetery.

Otto, the youngest of five children, of Ole and Sofie Bentsen, was born Nov. 16, 1918, on the family homestead southeast of Redstone. He attended Two Tree School and graduated from Redstone High School. He served in the United States Army in the pacific theatre as part of the 7th Infantry Hour Glass Division during World War II, from June 1941, until the war ended. In 1947, he married Bernice Leader. In 1952, after working in every grocery store in Plentywood at the time, Otto and Bernice purchased the Bentsen homestead and devoted their energy to farming, ranching and raising their children. Otto was particularly pleased with 2010 Montana Historical Society recognition of the Bentsen farm as a Centennial Farm, with only two family owners during that time. In 1966, they leased the Lloyd Bolster farm and lived there for 10 years. Being immediately adjacent to the highway, Otto was the quintessential Good Samaritan to drivers in need, especially in winter. In 1976, they sold their cattle and moved to Plentywood

, from where they continued farming until 1987 they fully retired, enjoying square dancing, round dancing, bowling and occasional woodworking projects. In his 90s, his failing eyesight took away his driving privileges, and he had difficulty recognizing people, but he still managed to operate a lawn mower, hedge trimmer and snow thrower. In January 2012, they moved into assisted living in Great Falls. Otto and Bernice celebrated 65 years of marriage in September 2012.

Otto served on the Wanso School board and the Faith Lutheran Church council. In his early years, Otto taught himself to play the accordion. He practiced on the front porch while neighbors across the hill, half a mile away, listened on their front porch. He formed a small local band that played for dances, and quite literally, played for peanuts in the local bars. He was also co-coach of a true baseball farm league, since all the players were from local farm families.

Otto is survived by three children, Larry (Susan) Bentsen of Great Falls, Steve Bentsen of Temple, Texas, and Lola (Steve) Raska of Great Falls; grandchildren, Wilson Raska of Bozeman and Carly Raska of Moscow, Idaho; and many nieces and nephews.

Otto was preceded in death by his wife, Bernice; brother, Bjarne Bentsen; and sisters, Riborg Bedwell, Signe Fleming and Jennie Tvaruzek.

Memorials are suggested to Sheridan Health Care Foundation or Quality Transit in Plentywood.

Condolences may be posted online at

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Jan. 19, 2013