Lester Raymond Slonaker, a lifelong Montanan and longtime Great Falls resident, died Thursday, April 17, 2014, at age 97 after a brief illness.
A visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 25, 2014, at Schnider Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Great Falls, with burial to follow at Mount Olivet Cemetery with military honors. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Les led a full, active and varied life. He was born on Sept. 6, 1916,to George Elmer and Bessie Alma (Griffee) Slonaker, growing up on a homestead near Zurich. He served in combat as a U.S. Army paratrooper in the Pacific Theater in World War II, fighting in the battles of Corregidor and Noemfoor. He was a lifetime member of the VFW. He worked as a carpenter and craftsman, helping to build many homes in Riverview in the '60s. He later went to work for the Postal Service, from which he retired. Les and his wife, Inez (Gregori) Slonaker, were married in Black Eagle in 1946. Last October they celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.
He embraced life, and savored its many joys with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile. He was quick to make a joke and equally quick to lend a helping hand whenever it was needed. He was an accomplished hunter and outdoorsman, and a good hand on horseback. He loved watermelon, ice cream and just about any other dessert, but he maintained a trim and vigorous physique even into his 90s.
Les was also a lifelong learner. He valued education and was proud that all four of his children received college degrees. Les was an avid reader, and especially enjoyed reading about Montana history and places of interest. Even in his late 90s, he could reel off lines of poetry he had learned in a one-room schoolhouse in the 1920s.
Lester Raymond Slonaker
Les had a soft, gentle personality. He especially enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
In addition to his wife, Inez, Les is survived by their four children, Deloris (Jim) Pribyl of Big Sandy, Dennis Slonaker of Bozeman, Dorothy Conlan of Great Falls and Larry (Sandi) Slonaker of Hollister, Calif.; grandchildren, Ron (Renee) Pribyl, Debra (Wayne) Klemann, Lesa Pribyl and Anne Conlan; five great-grandchildren, Kyle, Kameron and Kody Pribyl and Elizabeth and Courtney Klemann; brother,Leland of Havre; sisters, Olive Sheppard and May Gertson, both of Chinook; and all his beloved nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Fred and Don; and sisters, Margaret Pridgeon and Eleanor Blevins.
Memorials may be made to a charity of the donors' choice.