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Jack Mahood

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Jack Mahood, 88, of Great Falls, a World War II veteran who was active in civic, music and military organizations, died of natural causes Sunday at a local nursing home.
A graveside service with military honors is 2 p.m. Friday in Big Sandy Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Big Sandy Museum. Benton Funeral Home of Fort Benton is in charge of arrangements.
Close friend Bill Strizich will give the eulogy, and Jack and Dora's friend, pianist and composer Philip Aaberg, will play some of their favorite music at the reception.
Jack is survived by his wife, Dora Mahood of Great Falls; loyal cocker spaniel Patsy; sister Julia Kjelmyr of Leeds, N.D.; nephews Jerry (Darlene) Smithers of Helena, Jeff (Patricia) Smithers of Missoula and John Kjelmyr of Littleton, Colo.; and nieces Helen Diane (Jim) Tufte of York, N.D., and Susan Johnson of Missoula.Jack was born Nov. 25, 1918, in Big Sandy, Mont., the youngest of three children. He graduated from Big Sandy High School in 1937. He attended Montana State University, the University of Montana and Northern Montana College, and graduated from Western Montana College at Dillon in 1941.
A World War II veteran, Jack served in the Army Air Corps from May 4, 1942, to Feb. 8, 1946. He served in the Pacific Theater, with duty in the Philippines, Iwo Shima, Japan, New Guinea and Luzon. He was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant at Fort Lewis, Wash.
After his military service, Jack started farming in the Big Sandy area. He also taught grade school in Big Sandy and coached the Big Sandy alumni basketball team, which once played the famous Harlem Globetrotters. (We're not sure who won that game).
Beginning as a teenager, Jack also became an accomplished alto saxophone player, playing jazz music. He played with many bands and jazz groups around the state; however, of all his playing, he enjoyed playing the most with the Ozark Club jazz group in Great Falls. Jack composed music and lyrics of many musical eras and was a collector of jazz and big band records.
Jack met Dora F. Goecks from Big Sandy, and they were married in San Fernando, Calif., on Dec. 17, 1950. They would have had their 57th anniversary this year.
Jack was a former trustee of the C.M. Russell Museum. Over the years, he had collected many paintings, gifting and loaning many to several museums. He also wrote poetry and collected art, art books, coins and jazz records, and had some of his collection articles published in The L.A. Times.
Jack loved to fly and was a licensed commercial pilot. He owned several Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft and culminated his flying with his favorite, a Cessna 320 twin. He also did his own crop spraying and was licensed to fly gliders.
Jack was past commander of American Legion Post 50 and VFW Post 6107 in Big Sandy and taught meteorology for the Civil Air Patrol. He was a member of Flying Farmers of Havre, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Elks, Rotary and Meadow Lark Country Club, and a volunteer for Air Search and Rescue and the Big Sandy Fire Department.
Jack and Dora were on the first Big Sandy All-School Homecoming Committee in 1951. Since then, Big Sandy has held the "all school/all class" homecoming event every five years.
Jack was a very generous and giving person - helping kids go to college, those needing work, helping and rescuing animals in need and donating the necessary land to the Big Sandy Airport for a longer runway.
He enjoyed all sports, including hunting geese and playing poker. He was proud of being the original owner of a 1964½ Ford Mustang and his Cessna 320 twin airplane. He was a good mechanic and worked a short time for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle and Lockheed Aircraft in California.
Jack was a good, honest person. As his devoted wife, Dora, liked to say, "He was a keeper."
He was preceded in death by his parents, John E. and Lottie A. Mahood; and sister Diane Smithers.
Memorials are suggested to the Children's Receiving Home or the Humane Society of Great Falls.
Condolences may be posted online at

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Nov. 14, 2007
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