Laceen Elizabeth Ophus of Big Sandy died Sunday, July 6, 2003, in a horse riding accident south of Havre in the Bear Paw Mountains. She was 19.
A service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday in the Big Sandy High School gymnasium with the Rev. Pete Guthneck officiating. Those who wish are welcome to ride horses in the funeral procession from the high school to the reception afterward at St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church, Big Sandy.
Visitation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the church and one hour before the service at the school. Prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the church.
Laceen was born Aug. 10, 1983, at Northern Montana Hospital in Havre, the youngest of seven daughters and four sons born to Lyle and Barbara Ophus. Laceen attended F.E. Miley Elementary School. By kindergarten she was catching, bridling and riding Spice, the easygoing family horse, as often as she could convince someone to throw on a saddle.
Her 10th birthday present from her brother Reece was the most cherished gift of her life, a 1-year-old mare she named Flicka. After breaking and training her, the duo began a rodeo career that would continue to flourish through college rodeo.
In eighth grade she launched a career of breaking and training horses for paying customers.
In junior high and at Big Sandy High School, Laceen maintained perfect attendance. She was consistently on the honor roll and was a member of the National Honor Society. She was awarded best defensive and best offensive volleyball player her junior and senior year, respectively, and she also won many medals in track and rodeo.
Laceen held various offices and earned numerous awards in FFA, FHA, Science Olympiad and speech and drama.
She was an active lifetime member of St. Margaret Mary's Catholic Church in Big Sandy.
She graduated from Big Sandy High School in 2002 and attended Montana State University- Northern in Havre. Laceen was awarded many collegiate scholarships and was a 4.0 student.
She loved her rodeo team and traveled across Montana with it, competing in goat tying and barrel racing.
Beyond ranching and riding and rodeos, Laceen was thrilled to dance, from jitterbugging contests to pulsating club music. She established a network of friends that extended far past the boundaries of her hometown area.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Anton and Pearl Ophus and Frank and Agnes Magda.
Laceen is survived by her parents; brothers, Shane (Gwen) and Reece, both of Big Sandy, Clint (Jolene) of Havre, and Clete of Great Falls; sisters, Lyla (Cody) Brazier of Bremerton, Wash., Demra (Rick) Brown of Big Sandy, Charna (Rob Otis) Ophus of Gresham, Ore., Landa Aponte of Peoria, Ariz., Kami (Steve) Crass of Lolo, and Rashae (James Johnson) of Jamestown, N.D.; and 15 nieces and nephews.
Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.