Arthur Louis Depner

Arthur Louis Depner

Arthur Louis Depner, age 99, entered into Eternal Glory on Feb. 8, 2021.

Art was born in Lewistown, MT on Dec. 20, 1921, to Martin and Katherine (Gerber) Depner. Art graduated from Billings High School in 1939. He enlisted in the Air Force at age 19, proudly serving with the 17th Bomber Group during World War II. Several men from his group were part of the Doolittle Raid, as depicted in '30 Seconds Over Tokyo', Art's favorite war movie.

After the war he worked at his father's business, New Method Shoe Repair CO in Billings. Eventually Art took over the business and changed the name to Depner Shoe Repair. The shop became a Billings landmark. He knew all his customers by name. He knew their kids and the sports they played. He supplied ice skates for the city of Billings and made sure the blades were kept sharp.

In 1948 Art met Elizabeth Schwehr at The St. Patrick's Young Adult Group. They were married in 1949, and together raised 9 children. They were long time members of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Billings before moving to Spokane, WA in 2005 to be closer to family. Throughout his life, Art maintained a quick wit and wonderful sense of humor and laughed a lot. Art was a fighter and never gave up, overcoming Covid-19 when he was 98. He always made the best of every situation no matter what life threw at him, with never a complaint.

He is survived by his children James, Dan (Roberta), Jerry (Christine), Steve, Greg, Joe, Chuck and Mary (Rob) Johnson, along with 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings, Earl, Ed and Patricia Gomm and many nieces and nephews.

Art was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 65 years, Elizabeth, and his daughter, Cheryl Koch, as well as two daughters-in-law, Joanie and Tish. He was also preceded in death by his parents and siblings Gladys (infant), Arnold, Helen Nordlund, Sister Mary Depner, SCL and Rita Leader. Art trusted in his Lord and Savior throughout his life and is now enjoying his reward, resting in the arms of Jesus.

A small graveside service will be held in Spokane at the Washington State Veteran's Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held in Billings at a later time this spring or summer, TBA.

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Published by Billings Gazette on Feb. 14, 2021.
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5 Entries
He was so kind to my dad, Leonard Lutgen. Dad had polio so 1leg was shorter than the other. He helped dad walk straight by putting heel lifts in one shoe. Dad always spoke kindly of him.
Marilyn Lutgen Klein
February 17, 2021
My sincere condolences to the Depner family of their loss of Arthur. I have a special place in my heart for the man who offered me my first job working at his shop in Billings, MT in 1982 when I was 16. My father, John Glen, often took his shoes to Depner's Boot and Shoe Repair; he introduced me to Mr. Depner one spring day when we entered his shop to drop off a pair of shoes to be repaired. My dad told Mr. Depner that I knew how to sew and was a Montana State 4-H contestant in Fashion Revue when I was 12 yrs old. Mr. Depner offered me a job on the spot; apparently, he was in need of someone to handle the backlog of repairs in the leather mending department. My 16 year old self thought it was a big-time position! My first day on the job, Mr. Depner showed me the sewing machine in the nook of the shop next to the window and demonstrated how to operate the sewing machine he had for the purpose of mending all sorts of leather seams on a pile of items his customers had brought in for repair. When I sat at the ancient, solid steel, black monstrosity with its wide, beautifully laced, rot-iron, rocking plate foot treadle, I was instantly transported to the mid-1800's, a time when Walter Hunt, Elias Howe, and Isaac Singer disputed patent rights on their sewing machines in court for 10 years. It was the toughest machine I've ever worked with, punching holes in leather boot loops and bag handles with smooth, straight stitches without ever faltering or snagging its threads. It was truly a beautiful beast! To this day, whenever I enter a saddlery or shoe repair shop, the smell of clean leather and shoe goo always take me back to my youth working in Mr. Depner's Boot and Shoe Repair. Thank you, Mr. Depner, for the opportunity of enjoying my first job, for the lasting memory of the noisy little workshop, for your warm, personal greetings to me and all of your customers, and for your words of wisdom spoken with the enormous heart of God yet full of gentleness and sincerity. May you rest in peace in the presence of our Heavenly Father for all eternity!
Kelly Pefley
February 16, 2021
Although I did not know Arthur, I worked with Steve at Salt Creek Freightways in Billings in the 1970s. He was also good friends with my husband (now deceased), Rob White. My condolences to Steve and the rest of the family ~ Becky K. (Braswell) White
Becky K. White
February 15, 2021
Mr.Depner, thanks for giving me my first summer job around 1959 (ish). When I see some of the equipment at Al´s Bootery and Repair Shop, I can still see you at the helm doing what you did, a little of everything.... Peace to you and your family Mick Gainan
Mick Gainan
February 15, 2021
Mr Depner's store was the only place in Billings to get your skates sharpened. I almost lived on ice skates in the winter and having them sharpened for 35 cents at the New Method Shoe Store was the best way to stay on your feet at the ice rink. Mr. Depner was always helpful and friendly. My condolences to his family.
Dick Kraske
February 14, 2021