On Dec. 2, 2020, Jack Rehberg passed away peacefully in his home from an aggressive form of T Cell Lymphoma. He was comforted by the many blessings that accompany a full life, well lived.
Jack was born on May, 17, 1929, in Billings, to Wallace and Dorothy (Hamilton) Rehberg. He was raised on the family dairy farm west of town and graduated from Billings Senior High. He earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Dairy Manufacturing (go figure) from Montana State University and then returned to Billings to apply his new knowledge.
Playing the leading lady in this adventure was his wife, Patricia (Cooley), the neighbor girl he fell in love with as a boy and was determined to marry. With a wink and a nod from her father, he foiled any would be suitors by parking his car down the street in front of her house to give the impression that her dance card was filled for the evening. Over time the strategy worked and Jack and Pat married on June 27, 1952, remaining happily married for over 68 years.
A jack-of-all-trades, his professional career began by co-managing the Midland Guernsey Dairy Farm on Rehberg Lane with his brother Wally, and the Milky Way Drive-In across from Eastern Montana College (MSUB) with his mother, Dorothy. At the Milky Way, he served double duty as manager and short order cook for nearly 20 years. Not content with the rigors of bottling milk in the morning and flipping burgers until closing time, Jack also found time to embark on a journey of service that would come to define him as a man, a mentor, and a leader in his community.
Throughout his life, Jack was an active member of the Freemasons where he served as Master for Ashlar Lodge #29, Grand Master of Montana (1980-1981), and Member of the Scottish Rite Supreme Council for 28 years, achieving the rank of 33rd degree. He was especially proud of his time spent as an Advisor to the Billings Chapter of DeMolay where, leading by example, he helped young boys develop into successful men by quietly instilling in them the ethics of hard work, accountability, and self-confidence.
Jack's love of politics led him to the halls of the State Legislature, where he served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1963 to 1967 and in the State Senate from 1969 to 1971. He followed politics his entire life and was a staunch conservative, often giving his 'liberal' friends a bad time.
After the Milky Way closed in 1971, Jack changed his focus and became Executive Director of both the Montana Petroleum Association and the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association of Montana. When the opportunity came for a new learning experience in the field of banking, he accepted the challenge of serving as Vice President of Security Federal Savings and Loan before moving on to President, where he oversaw the bank's expansion to 23 locations across Montana and guided the change from a savings and loan to a bank.
Jack was a member of Billings Kiwanis, Chairman of Billings Deaconess Hospital Board, President of Billings Chamber of Commerce, and a Member of the Montana Reapportionment Commission from 1990-2000. He was also President of the Montana Savings and Loan League and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle.
Jack loved music. Whether playing the piano for friends and family, the organ at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, the calliope in parades for the Al Bedoo Oriental band, or the occasional polka on the accordion, Jack could tickle the ivories like the best of them. He was especially proud of his brother Bill, who played the French Horn and became an accomplished musician in New York City.
Jack's zest for life was tempered by three guiding principles: hard work, accountability, and service to others. He applied these principles to everything he did and had the uncanny knack to subtly instill these principles upon those around him. In his free time, he enjoyed camping, boating, traveling and gardening. (He kept his geraniums alive for over 30 years.)
He is survived by his wife Patricia, his children Shanna (David) Henry and Dennis (Janice) Rehberg, his sister Jeanine Lee, his five grandchildren, Jaclyn, Ryan, AJ, Katie, and Elsie whom he loved equally (but everyone knows he had a favorite), and four great-grandchildren.
A private service for family will be held at a later date. Memorials in Jack's name can be made to the Eugene Herman Language Clinic of the Scottish Rite, 514 14th St. W, 59102.