By Tim Leeds
What started as a birthday celebration Sunday ended in tragedy.
Chauncey and Georgiann Steinmetz were two miles south of Chinook coming back from Cleveland, a small community about 30 miles south of Chinook, motorcycling with some friends on Secondary Highway 240. About 6 p.m. the motorcycle they were on drifted off the road on a left-hand curve, rolling several times and ejecting both of them. Chauncey was pronounced dead at the scene and Georgiann died at Northern Montana Hospital a short time later.
"It was my dad's 55th birthday. They had gone out to Cleveland to celebrate, ride their bike," their daughter Stacy Lanier said. Georgiann was 53.
The Steinmetzes were married in 1966, and would have celebrated their 35th anniversary on July 3. They raised their two daughters Lanier and her sister, Tanya Palmer in Havre. Now that their daughters are grown, they were enjoying being grandparents, spending time with Tanya's child, Raymond Palmer, and Stacy's children, Mckaen Dyess and Kade, Raven and Kougar Lanier.
The couple, originally from the Chinook area, lived in Havre since 1967, when Chauncey started working in the diesel shop of Great Northern Railway. He was still working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe as a carman.
Georgiann worked for Western Drug for 16 years. Doris Hanson, who owns the store with her husband, Richard, said Georgiann was very dedicated, a good worker.
"She knew her customers' wants and always tried to keep them fulfilled," Hanson said.
Georgiann's main duties at Western Drug were in the gift department, including cards and cake-decorating supplies. One of Georgiann's hobbies was making wedding cakes. At the store, she ordered the merchandise, stocked the department, helped customers and did whatever work was needed.
"She pretty much knew the whole store," Hanson said.
Lanier said the thing Georgiann liked to do most was to spend time with Chauncey.
"They liked to play darts together, ride their bikes," she said.
The Steinmetzes were fans of motorcycles and classic cars for years. They showed their restored 1960 Ford Thunderbird at many car shows around the state, including the Hi-Line Cruz'n Association's Rod Run June 8-9. They were members of the Cruz'n Association.
The Steinmetzes bought a Harley-Davidson last October.
"They rode (Honda) Goldwings, decided to jump up a notch and hear that roaring engine of a Harley," said Charlene Lowen, Chauncey's cousin.
Chauncey was a craftsman in woodworking. Last summer they sold a cabin he had built in Coram, which Lowen said was more of a nice log house than just a cabin.
"Dad built it all inside and out," Lanier said. "All the cabinets and everything were built by Dad."