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Obituary - Kenneth Alan Shelhamer


September 11, 2017

Kenneth Alan Shelhamer

Kenneth Alan Shelhamer, 68, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Northern Montana Care Center.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, at the St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Harlem with Father Michael Schneider officiating. Burial will follow in the Harlem Cemetery with military honors.

Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with services and arrangements.

Please visit Ken’s online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for his family at http://www.hollandbonine.com.

Ken was born Jan. 27, 1949, to George and Ruby (Fennel) Shelhamer in Boulder, Clorado. He attended grade school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, junior high in Havre, Montana, and graduated from Harlem High School in 1967.

Ken enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from 1969-1972. He was an exceptionally competent air traffic controller, whose military appearance reflected great personal pride in the naval service. He was very well-liked by his shipmates and contributed to their morale with his keen wit and sense of humor. He was stationed in USNAF Sigonella, Sicily.

When Ken was a young boy, he would spend his summers riding horses at his Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Ethel’s ranch in Ignacio, Colorado. He loved the homemade egg noodles his Aunt Ethel would make and he would eat until he felt sick.

After serving in the Navy, he returned to Montana, working for the Bureau of Reclamation at the St. Mary River siphon near Babb, Montana, outside of Glacier Park, He was a ranch hand in Browning for several years and became involved in the rodeo and spent many years team roping.

In 1979, he managed Fresno Dam outside of Havre, where he met his future wife. It was during this time that he left Fresno Dam, and operated a pig farm in Ethridge for Roger Hibbs of Cut Bank.

July 26, 1980, Ken married his true love and life partner, Patsy Grill. The couple moved back to Harlem in 1981, and had their son Cory Edward. During the early years of their marriage, Ken owned and managed the Waterhole Bar on Main Street, was Harlem’s city engineer, became involved in the Harlem Volunteer Fire Department, and played on local softball and bowling teams. His father-in-law, Ed Grill, introduced Ken to the game of horseshoes, and they would pitch in Ed’s yard well into the night, until Ed finally had to install outdoor lights. Ed and Ken traveled to Chinook many years and pitched horseshoes, bringing home trophies.

Ken later became an insurance agent working for Don Richman of Harlem for 22 years. He retired in January of 2011.

Ken enjoyed working with leather, woodworking and carpentry work. Under the direction and assistance of Ed Grill, he remodeled and added on to the first home Ken and Patsy bought in Harlem where they lived for 36 years. Ken then purchased the lot across the alley south of their house, where he built a two-car garage and tilled a huge garden. Ken and Patsy both loved to garden. He would bring out the stakes and string so he could make perfectly straight rows. Ken also enjoyed hunting and fishing. He fished with his father-in-law, in Alaska with friends, and traveled to Canada for great fishing with Don Richman through the insurance company.

When Cory was only 4 years old, Ken and Ed would go to the Chinook Golf Course and golf together. Cory had his own set of plastic clubs and he loved riding the golf cart with his dad and grandpa. Ken wanted Harlem to have a golf course, so he became instrumental in planning and developing what is now the golf course south of Harlem. At 6 years of age, Cory was out planting trees with Ken to help landscape the course, which Ken maintained for several years off and on. As Cory became older, he also worked with his dad. Ken also enjoyed building raffle items out of wood in his shop to be raffled at the annual Harlem Golf banquet.

Ken was a 32nd degree Freemason and Shriner, where he participated in the Tri-County Shrine Corvette Patrol. He attended the St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, and was involved in the Lion’s Club.

In 2010, Ken and Patsy went to Cancun, Mexico, for their 30th wedding anniversary. They wanted this to be their retirement vacation each year, so they would go in early December, and Cory joined them for the next three years until Ken became ill with cancer.

Ken was preceded in death by his brother Clifford Shelhamer; his sister Kay Lin Shelhamer; and his father-in-law, Ed Grill.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Patsy Shelhamer of Harlem; son, Cory Shelhamer of Malta; his parents, George and Ruby Shelhamer of Rapid City, South Dakota; his sister Marita Wallace of Santee, California; and nieces and nephews.


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