HARLEM - Gay A. Stearns, 77, formerly of Chinook, died at his home in Harlem on Friday after a long battle with congestive heart failure.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Fort Belknap Red Whip Center. Burial with military honors will be in the Malta Cemetery.
Gay was the oldest of 12 chil-dren born on April 14, 1926, in Malta to Kenneth and Beatrice (Smith) Stearns. Gay attended schools in Whitewater. He enlisted
in the U.S. Navy in 1944 and served during World War II.
Gay was a bar/restaurant owner, rancher, pawn broker and also worked in the petroleum industry.
He married Thelma Wallace in 1949 and they had five children. He married Inez Brockelsby in 1975.
Gay enjoyed visiting with his family and many friends. He also enjoyed playing cards, dancing, listening to music, working with horses and his dogs.
Gay was a master at the art of making all who knew him, love him. He made friends wherever he went and treated all people equally. He was unabashedly warmhearted, kind and generous. He had a fondness for animals of all varieties. He thoroughly enjoyed assisting the injured and stray.
During his extended illness, he was cared for by his granddaughter Candice Stearns of Billings.
Gay is survived by his wife, Inez Steans of Harlem; sons Wesley (Martha) Stearns of Williston, N.D., Conrad (Lana) Stearns of Dickenson, N.D., Sanford Stearns of Miles City; daughters, Charmaine (Winston) Morin of Harlem and Tracie Johnson of Spencer, Iowa; stepson, Harold Brockelby of New Mexico; stepmother, Arlene VanWechel of Sunnyvale, Calif.; brothers, Lionel "Pete" Stearns of Wasilla, Alaska, Kenneth Stearns of Sunnyside, Wash., Bill Stearns of Prosser, Wash., Mike Stearns and Joe Stearns, both of Sunnyside, Wash.; sisters, Peggie Lappe of Great Falls, Ann Garman of Grandview, Wash., Gloria Wallace of Wapeto, Wash., and Hattie Jo Chancellor of Vancouver, Wash.; 16 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, aunts and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Beatrice Stearns; sisters, Ramona Baker and Bernadine "Bunny" Trottier.