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Obituary - Robert W. Gopher (Pah-pah-tew-pi-ye-siw) "Spotted Thunderbird"


October 15, 2018

Robert W. Gopher (Pah-pah-tew-pi-ye-siw) “Spotted Thunderbird” was born on April 11, 1951, in Fort Belknap, MT, to James and Agnes Gopher. He died October 13, 2018, after a year-long battle with medical problems.

Wake services began at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 14, 2018, and funeral services were scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, October 15, 2018, all at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Burial was to follow in the Rocky Boy Cemetery.

Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.

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

He attended Rocky Boy Schools and graduated as Valedictorian from Box Elder High School in May of 1969. He was a three-sport athlete at BEHS (track, football and basketball) and excelled in all three. He played softball in the summers with his brother Mike and his friends. He played basketball and graduated from Eastern Montana College with a bachelor’s degree in art. He played and won many awards in city leagues and men’s basketball tournaments. Rob married Jeanne Bearcrane in Billings and they have two sons, James Joseph “J.J.” and Keenan. They later divorced.

He lived with his family in Billings for twenty years and brief times in Milwaukee, WI, and Albuquerque, NM. He taught art at Rocky Boy High School for three years, worked for the CCT in the planning department and was a successful grant writer for the Rocky Boy Health Board for over twenty years. Rob was a long time devoted Rocky Boy Stars fan, traveled many thousands of miles watching his sons, J.J. and Keenan, and granddaughter Adrienne take the floor. He loved his boys, nephews, nieces, all of their kids and grandchildren with all his heart.

As a young man he was an avid hunter, enjoyed hiking and fishing. He loved camping, barbecuing, and hitting the road watching his many young relatives play basketball. He was a talented painter and had his work displayed in many art shows and tours in Europe. Robert took pride in taking young teams to Canada for the Indigenous Games, Big Sky State Games and local and regional basketball tournaments.

He is survived by his sons, J.J. (Tierra) and Keenan (Bonnie) Gopher; grandchildren Aaron, Jarel, Aaliyah, Adrienne, Baby Keenan, Tristan, and Julian; brother Rusty; sisters Ruby, Kathleen & Linda Gopher, Emma Lou Rock; many nieces and nephews, grandkids, great grandkids and many relatives on the Roasting Stick and Gopher sides of the family. Earl and Rosie Bearcrane of Billings held Robert close to their hearts as family as well. As he shared with the family, “don’t be sad, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”


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