Retha Loraine “Reet” (Melby) Ernst, 75, of Lewistown, died of lung cancer Friday, July 24, 2009, at her home in Lewistown.
Graveside services will be held in Highland Cemetery in Great Falls on Friday, July 31, 2009, at 11 a.m. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Retha Loraine Ernst died Friday, July 24, 2009, with family and close friends at her side. Reet was born in Jan. 30, 1934, in Havre, Mont. She was the fourth of nine children born to John and Beulah Melby of Kremlin, where she was raised and educated. She married Roy Snyder and to that union a son, Rodney, was born. They divorced, and she later married Merle Ernst in Great Falls, where she had lived for most of her life. Reet and Merle moved to Lewistown in the early 1980s, where Merle died in 1996. Reet then met her soulmate and partner, Ben Foran. Ben and his family took her into their hearts as their own. Ben died in February 2006 and one month later, her son, Rod, died. After Ben's death, his family kept her close, helping to care for her needs and ease her loneliness. Reet was a great cook and loved to entertain friends and family. Her fun-loving spirit and sweet disposition made her a natural hostess, and she was still planning meals the day before she died. She is survived by a sister, Mildred Wilson; brothers Marvin "Booba" Melby and David (Betty) Melby, all of Havre; a sister-in-law, Marlene Melby of Kremlin; stepchildren Glen (Trina) Ernst of Delaware, Jim (Cyndi) Foran, and Todd (Eva) Foran, all of Hilger, and Marcie Foran of Lewistown; seven grandchildren; one great -grandchild; many nieces and nephews; and her dear friends of many years, Corky and Connie Voss. She was preceded in death by her parents; a son, Rodney Snyder; her husband, Merle Ernst; sisters, Frances Halter and Lois Knutson; brothers, Charles, Arlen and Raymond Melby; and her partner, Ben Foran. Memorials are suggested to Lewistown Hospice, 408 Wendell Ave., Lewistown, MT 59457. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www. Schniderfuneralhome.com.