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Obituary - Ila M. (Watson) Reighard


April 24, 2020

Ila Reighard

Ila M. (Watson) Reighard was born November 10, 1934, in Roundup, MT, to Elmer "Hub" and Pearl Watson. She passed away April 19, 2020, of natural causes in Great Falls, MT, with her family near her, although a majority of the family was quarantined to the parking lot!

Ila had a good life growing up, even during the Depression. She was raised on a small ranch in a loving family and she loved to go to dances with her sister, Fay. She met her future husband, Jim, when she was around 8 years old, but they did not start dating until high school. Jim joined the U.S Army in January 1954, and they married on April 3 that same year.

Ila and Jim moved to Tacoma WA shortly after their marriage so Jim could go into the Korean War. Their oldest daughter, Jayme, was born in Tacoma, and, a year later, another daughter, Connie, was born in Billings.  When Jim came home from the army, they began several years of moving around, as Jim was working in the oil fields. They moved to Watford City and Dickenson ND, Melstone, MT, Lysite, WY, and finally settled in Billings in 1965. Their son Gary was born there in 1966.

The Jailhouse Pizza in Billings was their first creation and adventure as business partners. In the late '70s they bought a "dude ranch" in Utica, MT, and then a car dealership in Havre, MT, where they resided until Ila's passing. They made many lifelong friends along the way.

Ila was always working, at first as a homemaker and later with Jim at different jobs in the businesses they owned over the years. She loved to keep a clean house and no other members of the family had to lift a finger.  She kept the "409" and "vacuum cleaner" companies in business.

She loved to shop and had collections of chickens, dolls, and artwork, just to name a few.

She liked to travel with her sister, Fay, and loved meeting up with friends to shop.

She was an expert quilter and, until her fingers lost mobility, was always working on a project. The quilts she made were masterpieces.

In her final year, she enjoyed looking out the window at the views and wildlife in her yard.

Ila is survived by her husband of 66 years, Donald "Jim" Reighard, her daughters, Jayme (Phil) and Connie (Ed), and her son, Gary (Jennifer). She leaves behind eight grandchildren, Paul, Angie, Jim, Zach, Mark, Nicole, Lieza, Jill and eight great-grandchildren. She was especially close to her two nieces, Linda and Evonne, and her deceased mother-in-law, Mary.

She was preceded in death by her parents and only sister. 

Cremation has taken place and services and celebration of life will be held at a later date.


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