Ethel Arendt, a longtime Havre resident, passed away at age 96 on April 9, 2012, in Twin Bridges, Mont., where she lived with her son, Curtis, and daughter-in-law, Linda.
Born Ethel May Ledingham on June 17, 1915, to Mark and Millie (McKechnie) Ledingham at their farm near Colgate, Saskatchewan, Canada, she attended a one-room school near home, high school in Colgate and Normal School in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where she graduated with a teaching certificate in 1935. Ethel taught throughout southern Saskatchewan in country schools ranging from Griffin in the east to Ravenscraig in the west. Many were one-room schools where she taught all 12 grades. One was struck by lightning. Depression-era hard-times meant that a part of her pay was board and room with a local family and that much of the rest was paid in scrip instead of cash. But nothing so brightened her recollections as the many students and boarding hosts from those days who kept in touch with her for the rest of their lives.
On Aug. 3, 1941, Ethel married Alfred W. Arendt in Eastend, Saskatchewan. She continued teaching as he farmed, and two children were born before they moved to Havre in December 1950. Here, a third child was born shortly after she walked to the hospital on a frigid and icy January night. Ethel soon began a career at the Sacred Heart Hospital, ultimately earning her licensed practical nursing certificate and retiring in 1973. Additionally, Alfred and Ethel built the A&W Root Beer stand in Chinook where she was the manager each summer from 1961 through 1964.
Flower beds fronting her house in Havre were groomed to the point where they earned compliments from passers-by. It was home for 44 years before Ethel and Alfred settled into the Eagles Manor in 1999, where she stayed until the fall of 2010 when she moved to Twin Bridges.
Ethel traveled extensively throughout the U. S. and Canada. Indeed, among her earliest recollections was traveling as a five-year-old via the Canadian National Railway to Vancouver, British Columbia, by boat to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and home via the Canadian Pacific Railway. Alfred and Ethel split the driving on a road trip in 1959 to California where she danced with Lawrence Welk. Thirty-two trips to Pennsylvania began in 1965 and kept up until 1996. On the way, they stopped to visit relatives in Minnesota, Chicago and Cincinnati. Early in the spring or late in the fall, so as not to interfere with caring for her flowers at home, these trips grew to be month-long sojourns. Headquartered at her daughter’s in Lancaster, Pa., or at her son’s in Pittsburgh, side-trips emphasized historic sites in some 14 states and two provinces up and down the east coast, but especially around Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Her many trips east included tours of three submarines, including a 1990 one in Norfolk, Va., where her guide was grandson Brad Arendt, then serving the Navy aboard that submarine as a nuclear specialist. Many other trips to visit their children ranged in-state from Butte to Red Lodge and out-of-state to Wyoming and Colorado. A highlight for Ethel was attending a 1977 reunion in Dornoch, Ontario, where she joined other descendants of James Ledingham, by gathering in the brick house he built when he came from Scotland in 1832. After Alfred passed away in 2003, she went by cruise ship to Alaska where she was met at the dock at Seward by friends who whisked her around for a whirlwind of sightseeing, most memorably the flower gardens in Anchorage. The next year was Hawaii, where her grandson J. D. Zipp piloted a helicopter which flew her all over Maui. It was in Hawaii at age 89 that she actually descended in a submarine. The coral seen on the ocean floor so infatuated her that she brought home a suitcase full of it combed from the beaches.
Ethel took part in the Homemakers organization in her younger years. After retiring, she and Alfred were regular pool players at the senior citizens center. Later, she engaged in activities at the Eagles Manor ranging from pinochle and bingo to exercises and religious services.
Ethel was a member of St. Jude Thaddeus Church since 1950, where she belonged to the St. Ignatius Circle and the Catholic Daughters. Going to church gave no satisfaction greater than venerating the wooden crucifix that her son Curtis carved for the St. Jude’s parish in 1996.
She was predeceased by her husband and parents; a brother, Earl Ledingham; two sisters, Irene Dow and Elsie Hoover; and a daughter-in-law, Diane Arendt. She is survived by her daughter, Mary Lynn (Dan) Kuka of Havre; and sons, Curtis (Linda) Arendt of Twin Bridges, Mont., and Bryce Arendt of Havre. Also surviving are 13 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; plus special friends Joe and Marcia Hegna of Alaska.
A vigil will be held at 7 p. m. Sunday, April 22. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a. m. Monday, April 23. Both will be held at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Havre. A fellowship luncheon in the parish center will follow burial in Calvary Cemetery after the funeral. In lieu of flowers, contributions to St. Jude’s are suggested. Final arrangements are with Edwards Funeral Home.