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Obituary - Walter Jerome Main, "Filesteel," "EE-DAWTH-HAW"


Walter Main

With heavy heart we are announcing the passing March 31, 2020, of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Walter Jerome Main, "Filesteel," "EE-DAWTH-HAW."

Jerome was born July 30, 1937, in Hays, Montana. He was a proud member of the Gros Ventre Tribe of the Fort Belknap Agency. Jerome was the youngest son of Mae Filesteel and Thomas "Tom" Main. He grew up in Hays at the old Main place.

Jerome lost his father, Tom, at the young age of 15, which was one of the greatest losses of his life. In 1955, he graduated from the Saint Paul Mission Hays High School. When he was 18, he joined the U.S. Air Force and trained in Houston, Texas, and after that spent the next two years in Panama, where he was a teletype operator, as his typing skills were always superior. He was fond of saying he even "beat the girls" in his high school typing class.

After his service in the Air Force, he spent time in Butte, Montana, with his mother and family. He then went back to Hays and met the love of his life, Nellie Lamebull, in 1960 marrying a month later. During this time Jerome worked for two years helping build the Fort Peck Dam in Fort Peck, Montana.

After this, Jerome and Nellie lived at the old Main place and began raising their first three children. In 1967, he began working with the Fort Belknap Bureau of Indian Affairs Social Services with friends Leo Brockie and Page Brown. He managed the IIM Account monies for numerous tribal members, assisting them in managing their daily living expenses to improve the quality of their lives.

Jerome worked in federal government service for 30 years. He began his law enforcement career in 1970, and first trained in Quantico, Virginia, later completing law enforcement trainings in Brigham City, Utah, and Artesia, New Mexico. In his law enforcement career, Jerome moved his family and worked in numerous tribal and federal agencies, transferring his grade level each time. He transferred first to the Fort Peck Tribe where he was the BIA Tribal Special Officer/Criminal Investigator. It was there he met fellow co-worker Howard Bemer and they continued a close, life-long friendship and considered each other "brothers."

In 1978, Jerome transferred to Everett, Washington, where he was the area special officer, overseeing all of the Northwest Region Indian reservations' law enforcement programs. In this position, he was considered an expert in Indian jurisdictional issues between the federal and state government and Indian Country.

In the summer of 1982, Jerome transferred to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon, where he worked as the BIA special officer. After working there for four years, he was able to transfer back to Montana, to what he considered "God's Country." He worked in Billings, Montana, as the area special officer, managing the seven Montana reservations and one in Wyoming. During his employment in Billings, Jerome was detailed to Washington, D.C., where he was instrumental in transitioning tribal law enforcement to its own department, where the tribes would not need area office superintendent approval for services and decisions. In 1994, Jerome retired and was presented with a grand retirement party where all of his children gave him his first regalia dance outfit.

After retiring, Jerome settled in Hays, building his home at the old Main place.

Jerome was one of the story tellers of the old times and loved to tell stories of the elders of the reservation. He could do accurate impressions of them and loved to talk and laugh with them as a young man. He had a great sense of humor and had many stories and impressions of others he met during his life, as well.

But, first and foremost, he was a family man with five children and many grandchildren and great-grand children whom he cherished. He was also a man of deep faith and was a member of the Saint Paul Mission church. It was rare that he missed a Sunday church service and was proud that his children were baptized in the Catholic church as well as many of his grandchildren. He currently served as the chairman of the Kateri Foundation, and he and Nellie traveled to Great Falls, Montana, monthly.

Jerome loved hunting with his sons and grandsons and was also an avid basketball fan of college and professional teams. He was so proud of his sons' and grandsons' high school basketball careers. He enjoyed following high school basketball Indian teams, traveling to local games as well as to state championship tournaments. He enjoyed family gatherings surrounded by loved ones especially camping at the Hays Powwow in the beautiful Mission Canyon.

Jerome was a former Fort Belknap Agency tribal councilman. He served for two years as the Mountain Gros Ventre representative, who was well-versed in current events, politics and Indian land issues.

Jerome is survived by his wife, Nellie Lamebull-Main; daughters, Angie (James Jordan) Main, Cathy Main and Tracey (John) Main-Thomas, as well as son Nathan (Becky) Main. He had many grandchildren and great-children whom he loved and were precious to him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Tom and Mae Main; sisters, Rosie, Henrietta, Marie, Opal, Dorothy, Myra; brothers, Elmer, James, Gerald, Tommy and Harold Main; son Robert S. Main Sr., granddaughter Brittany L. Main-Thomas and great-grandsons John and Kevin Main-Thomas and "Eagles child" Kyle Brockie Jr.

Services for Jerome were Friday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. with a Rosary at the Main family home, family only, and Saturday, April 4, at 11:00 a.m., was a public service at the Main family home. After the service the family distributed take-out boxes.

Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.

Our husband and father "fought like a lion" in his battle with two bouts of cancer, where he eventually lost. We were blessed to have learned from such a great and humble man, life lessons he taught and instilled in all of us. He is now happy in heaven telling stories and laughing with his family and friends, as well as planning work projects and business ventures that was his passion.

Our mighty warrior earned his wings although we are apart, his spirit lives within us, forever in our hearts.


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