By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Jeb Stiffarm, 60, of Lodge Pole, who died last week in a car crash, is remembered by friends and family as the man who was always there to help - always volunteering, always participating. In particular, he was known for his participation in veterans services on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. "He was a veteran, and very proud of the fact," said his cousin Julie King Kulback.
"His death rocked our community," said a friend, Ken Morin.
Stiffarm was returning home from Havre shortly after midnight on Aug. 26 after dropping off a friend. He failed to make a curve on tribal Route 11 and the car crossed the oncoming lane and went into a ditch. He tried tried to drive out of the ditch but the car rolled over, crushing Stiffarm, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
Stiffarm is survived by a wife, nine siblings, nine children, four stepchildren, and 32 grandchildren.
He was an example, and a fixture, Morin said.
"He was very friendly to everyone. He would always greet you and if he saw you again 10 minutes later, he'd greet you again," said his sister, Lorine Doney. Stiffarm was the eldest of 10 siblings and known by all for his kind demeanor and sense of humor, Doney said.
In Stiffarm's 60 years, he experienced a lot of history. Doney said that in accordance with tradition, Stiffarm, the oldest sibling, was sent to be raised by his grandparents, Richard and Cora King, until he reached school age.
In 1969, Stiffarm was sent to Chicago as part of a relocation program by the U.S. government. Stiffarm spent two years in the city. He didn't talk about that period, Doney said, and the family understood it to be a bad time.
"It was a bad experience, a big shock," said Doney.
Stiffarm also served in the U.S. Army Airborne and continued as a reservist for 30 years, his sister said.
Stiffarm always volunteered to participate in services for other veterans and service members. "He did a lot of civic duties. It seemed like he was always there. I never pictured him dying," Morin said.