BIGFORK - Harold Christian Ebaugh, 89, of Bigfork died quietly of natural causes Friday, May 5, 2006, at a care facility in Billings with family members nearby.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fifth Avenue Christian Church in Havre. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in Columbia Falls at the Assemble of God Church.
Harold was born Dec. 7, 1916. He grew up in Malta. He was educated and began his electrical career with his father, John Andrew, electrifying homes in Malta. He played sports, was very competitive and was a good student. Harold experienced the Depression as a teenager and developed a strong work ethic and an honest, direct, friendly approach to life.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Harold was working for Montana Power in Great Falls. He immediately was given essential personnel status to maintain the power grid in Montana during World War II.
He married Hilda Eleanor “Billie” Dragge in 1942 in Great Falls. They moved from Great Falls to Fort Benton to Havre with Montana Power. In 1945, he answered a newspaper ad for the manager's job at the new rural electric co-op. He went in for the interview, let the board know he was the man for the job, and asked for more money than he thought they would pay. The board hired him in 1945, and he became the first general manager of the member owned Hill County Electric Cooperative. He obtained low interest loans from the Rural Electrification Administration in Washington D.C., began ordering materials, hiring employees, and building the electric lines that brought lights to the Hi-Line in 1947. In 1953, Harold was the force behind the formation of the Triangle Telephone Cooperative to bring telephone service to north-central Montana. His wife, Billie, died in 1969.
Harold met Courtney Calver Stoken when she served on the board for InterBel Co-op in Eureka. They married in June 1971. Harold continued as general manager until his retirement in 1984. Harold and Courtney moved to Bigfork to the home Courtney designed and they built on the Swan River by the Ferndale Airport.
Harold had a great love of flying and would go up with the barnstorming pilots as a youth. He received his pilot's license in 1946 with Walt Hensley as his instructor. He later received his commercial license and low-flying waiver to continue patrolling power lines and transporting telephone men and equipment to remote service areas. He continued to fly after retirement from the Ferndale Airport.
During the years, he was very active in the state and national electric and telephone associations and served terms as president of both. He was active in the community, serving on the Hill County Airport board. He was involved in Kiwanis, the Elks, Eagles, Masons, and Lions. In Bigfork, he was involved with the airport board. He and Courtney enjoyed traveling in their motor home and later a fifth wheel, and visited Europe twice, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.
Survivors include his wife, Courtney; son, Jon (Tina) Ebaugh; daughter, Lana (Tom) Semmens of Las Vegas, Nev.; stepson, Tom (LuAnn) Gregoroff of Laurel; sister, Ann Mae Kinkade of Malta; 11 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandsons.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Shriners Children's Hospital in Spokane, Wash.