Sterling Wolery, 64, died Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, at the Peace Hospice in Great Falls after a 23-month battle with glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer.
A funeral service was held Sunday at 3 p.m.at the Joplin Community Hall. The Rev. Dale Wolery officiated. A memorial luncheon followed at the hall.
Sterling Ernest Wolery was born on Nov. 9, 1941, in Havre, the second of three sons born to Olyn and Bernece (Shipman) Wolery. The three excited brothers and surprised parents later welcomed a girl to the family.
Sterling was named after his father's boyhood friend, another man of “sterling” quality, Sterling Wardell.
Sterling recalled an idyllic childhood spent on horseback. He was given room to roam, which lead to several boyhood adventures. One such adventure
that he never forgot was with his father and brother. They were caught several miles from home in a sudden snowstorm. The boys were freezing and several attempts to move the wagon failed. Sterling's father eventually put the young boys on a horse and turned it loose to find the way home, as he walked the remaining miles alone in the blizzard. Other adventures were not
as scary and typically involved his many cousins. Throughout his life, he continued a love for horses and his cousins and relatives.
Sterling attended Grassy Butte School near his country home. Later he entered high school in Rudyard, where he graduated in 1960. With the exception of this past year, Sterling attended a class reunion every five years. He was a committed friend.
After graduation, Sterling attended meat-cutting school in Toledo, Ohio. He returned to open a meat-cutting business on his parent's farm. Eventually
it became so successful that it had to be closed to make time for farming.
On Nov. 2, 1963, he married Betty Ann Burgess at the old Methodist Church in Chester. After their marriage, they briefly lived in Havre and Joplin, as Betty taught school in those locations. Soon his home and farm called him back. Their first daughter, Jill Ann, was born shortly
thereafter. Three more daughters, Jane Amber, Jolene Alicia (who died as an infant in 1976) and Julie Allyson, joined the family. With the help of his good friend, Jesse Pimley, Sterling built a home, across the road from his parents, to accommodate his growing family. Sterling lived 60 years on the place he loved.
Sterling's vocation was farming and ranching, but his avocation was designing and building. Among his original creations were drill markers, cycle gates, loader tractors, self-propelled augers and an unusual merry-go-round for the Joplin Park. He could build just about anything and enjoyed working with both wood and metal. His creations were featured in several farm publications over the years.
Sterling served on the J-I school board for nine years and was a 4-H leader. He also supported the local country church, Immanuel Lutheran. Sterling and Betty Ann enjoyed hosting a Christmas service on behalf of the church, which featured a live Nativity and was attended by neighbors far and wide. Most
recently he has attended the Chester Assembly Church.
In the face of brain cancer, Sterling left a lasting gift for his children and grandchildren by recording stories from his life. He was able to attend the Wolery Family Reunion this past summer, where he enjoyed the recollection and recording of more stories with his uncles and aunt.
In addition to his wife and three daughters, he is survived by sons-in-law, Greg Miller (Jill) of Billings, Darren Beadle (Jane) of Choteau, and Nick
Erickson (Julie) of Joplin; five grandchildren; two brothers, Leroy Wolery of Gildford and Merlin Wolery of Rudyard; a sister, Coleen Vestal of Aurora,
Colo.; five nephews; two nieces; two dozen first cousins; and three uncles and aunts.
He was preceded in death by a daughter, Jolene; his parents, Bernece in 2001 and Olyn in 2002; and a beloved aunt and uncle, Mary and Royal Wolery.
Memorials are suggested to the Clergy Recovery Network, P.O. Box 313, Joplin, MT 59531, in honor of his dearly devoted friend, cousin and spiritual guide, Dale Wolery.
Arrangements were by Rockman Funeral Chapel of Chester.