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Obituary - Merten Emanuel Freyholtz


September 12, 2017

Courtesy photo

Mert Freyholtz

Merten Emanuel Freyholtz of Gildford, Montana, 81, passed away Sept. 9, 2017, at the Liberty County Hospital from prostate cancer.

A service celebrating his life and arrival to his heavenly home will be held Thursday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. in the Gildford Community Church, with burial to follow at the Gildford Cemetery. A fellowship luncheon will be held at the church following interment.

Mert was born June 3, 1936, in New Ulm, Minnesota, to Adela and Emanuel Freyholtz. He first ventured out to the Big Sky Country at age 17, and continued to return for the next several years, working for various farmers along the Hi-Line. On one trip, in the summer of '59, he met the love of his life, Valborg (Vicki) Klemetson. They were married March 5, 1960, in Rudyard, Montana. Mert and Vicki made their home in Rudyard, then south of Hingham, finally settling in Gildford in 1972, where they lived until Mert entered the hospital in early August.

Mert held several jobs over the years, including working on the tunnel at Tiber Dam, laying waterline along the Hi-Line and being self-employed. This included raising pigs, selling antiques and running his own second-hand store in Havre for over a decade. He eventually retired but never really stopped working. He continued to buy and sell, occasionally setting up at flea markets and the annual art show in Big Fork.

Mert had a special love for the outdoors and keeping our environment safe. He worked tirelessly to save his favorite place, the Sweetgrass Hills. Mert marched against detrimental mining practices in the Little Rockies and testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee against cyanide heap leach mining. In 2004 he received the Undaunted Activist Award from the Island Range Chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association. He also fought for the protection of the Badger-Two Medicine Area, Rocky Mountain Front and the Blackfoot River. He was a charter member of the Environmental Rangers, and worked as a security guard for the Bonnie Raitt/Joan Baez Honor the Earth Tour in Great Falls, Montana. He spent time and money passionately working to preserve the environment for future generations.

Mert's family wrote, "He taught us the importance of family, the knowledge that we can all make a difference and to fight for what we believe in."

Survivors include his wife, Valborg (Vicki) Freyholtz, Gildford; brother William Freyholtz, Minneapolis, Minnesota; daughters, Laura Federspiel of Gildford and Faye (Arlen) Erickson of Hingham; grandchildren, Crystal (Mike) Glade of Universal City, Texas, Michelle (Garrett) Clawson of Gildford, Ethan Federspiel of Gildford, Kaleb (Charlye) Freyholtz of Hingham and Christopher Hammond, also of Hingham; great-grandchildren, Aleah Faldalen, Roman Faldalen and Caius Glade of Universal City, Texas; Gavin, Cooper and Kynzie Clawson of Gildford, Callie, Faith and Gage Keith, and Aiden Freyholtz of Hingham; and numerous family members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and infant brother, James.


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