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Obituary - Donald Lee Conley

 

March 12, 2019

Donald Conley

Donald Lee Conley, 85, passed away at Northern Montana Hospital on Sunday morning, March 10, 2019, due to natural causes after many years of ups and downs with his health.

Cremation has taken place, and memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at Fifth Avenue Christian Church in Havre with Pastor Rick Hodshire officiating.

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

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

Don was born on September 25, 1933, in Guernsey, IA, on his grandparent's farm. He was the first son of Wilma (Dougherty) and Clark Fogel. The family lived in Iowa for a few more years and then moved to Havre, Montana. When he was 9, his mother remarried, and Don and his brother were adopted by Paul H Conley, joining two stepsisters in the Conley family, with two more sisters coming along later.

Don attended school here, graduated from Havre High School in 1951, and attended Northern Montana College for two years, studying engineering, until he met his love. On October 8, 1955, Don married Barbara Ruth Abell in Lincoln, IL. They returned to make their home in Havre and begin their family.

Don and Barb moved many times in the next years, following his job as a butcher and meat dept manager with Safeway. Their 6 children were born along the way - Catherine in Havre, Ruth and Mary in Great Falls, Charles in Malta, Michael in Cut Bank, and Carol in Choteau. While in Fairfield, Don and Barb owned and operated their own grocery store - Conley's Cash and Carry- - with Barb occasionally "manning the store" while Don filled in around the state, cutting meat on the side.

Moving back to Havre in the '60s, Don returned to work cutting meat at Safeway. Over the next many years, he sold furniture at Gamble's, worked with the highway department - bridge crew and night shop crew - operated his own Dial-A-Carpet, and a wild game butcher shop in his garage - quite often, he worked two or more jobs at the same time! In 1972, Don and Barb opened Superior Carpets, where Barb ran the office and Don laid the carpet, until they retired together in 1995.

The two travelled for many years in their retirement, enjoying winters in the southwest where they took classes and bought rocks, then traveling the northwest, selling rocks and Don's lapidary creations at rock shows, while Barb beaded and sold her creations, too. They loved visiting family along the way and learning new things at Elderhostels. Don bragged that they made it to 47 out of the 48 contiguous United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

Donald was a jokester, loved to laugh and make others laugh - it was sometimes hard to tell if he was pulling your leg, but the crinkles at the corner of his eyes would give it away. He could tell jokes for hours and hours, with each joke leading into the next. He loved collecting and would collect anything ... and lots of it! He was an avid gardener, and very proud of his garden harvests. Don could find creative ways to manufacture or repair anything - his ways usually worked, after a fashion, but were sometimes bulky or looked strange. When a job needed to be done, his family would tell each other not to "Don" it.

Of course, his family was a priority, and his kids could tell you many stories about his inventive parenting style. He absolutely loved children and was especially happy when his grandkids would come to visit. Don was excited about life, and packed as much as he could into every day. He loved telling stories, and always said that "everything has a story" - but we suspect he made up some of them. He was an excellent salesman, and could outsell anyone when it came to tickets for fundraisers. Don was a Mason and Shriner and a member of the Eagles, and served in the Montana Army National Guard.

Don was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Barbara Conley; daughter Mary Nivens; sons Chuck and Michael Conley; parents, Paul and Wilma Conley; and step-sister Florence Kline.

He is survived by his daughters Cathy (Ken) Kihara of Havre, Ruth (Rick) Lagerquist of Plentywood, MT, and Carol (Grant) Sather of Poulsbo, WA; daughter-in-law Connie Conley of Helena, MT; six grandchildren, Stefanie (Brent) Reay, Christopher (Melissa) Lagerquist, Jeremy (Megan) Sather, Jordan Sather, Angela Conley and Sara (Ben) Kugler; eight great-grandchildren, Andrew, Alexander and Annalise Lagerquist, Katelynn and Adrianna Reay, Brody and Carter Sather, and Jaxon Sather. He also leaves a brother, James (Marsha) Conley; two sisters, Joan (Gary) Gaspard and Colleen (Barry) Wright; a step-sister, Pauline Wilson; and a half-sister, Vicki Wilson.

 

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