Condolences: Spring 2019
The family and friends of educator and philosopher Ron Perrin. He died Oct. 7 in Missoula. Born on Jan. 20, 1934, in Montpelier, VT, and spent his formative years in Vermont and Massachusetts. During his 20s he served in the U.S. Army (’55-’57) and in the corporate world, where he worked in sales and advertising for Proctor and Gamble. In 1960, he met and married Sandra, whose passing in April of 2017 was a devastating loss. At age 31, he enrolled as a freshman at Northwestern University, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1965. During this time he became increasingly involved in social and political causes. A trip to Selma, AL, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965 remained a deep and lasting influence in his subsequent teaching and public involvement. He went on to earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and in 1968, became a faculty member at Montana State University. In 1971, he joined the philosophy faculty at the University of Montana, Missoula, where he later became a professor of philosophy and political theory. In 1986, he received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and was initiated into the order of Phi Kappa Phi in 1994. He served as a member of the Missoula Arts Council and with the Institute of Ethics and Humanities at St. Patrick Hospital. But his first love of public service was within the field of public humanities; he served as a member and chair of the Montana Committee for the Humanities and as a member of the National Federation of State Humanities Councils. In 2011, he was a recipient of the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award.
The family and friends of musician Greg Devlin. He died Jan. 10 at age 71. Devlin was born in Mayville, ND, and graduated from Polson High School in 1965, where he excelled as a musician. He earned his bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Montana in 1971, and was active in UM’s music group, the Jubileers. He joined the military and moved to Maryland where he became a member of the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants. Devlin continued his education, earning a master’s in musicology from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, before moving back to Missoula in 1981 and adding a long and diverse chapter to his musical career. He joined the Missoula Chorale and the Missoula Mendelssohn Club, which he sang with until his death. He expressed his faith singing at the Catholic churches he attended. He also performed with his brother, Tom, and Tom’s wife, Val, in the Devlin Lenz Connection, and later with brothers Tom and Jeff in the Devlin Connection. Devlin also formed a duet with Gina Hegg and they sang together for several years. His latest musical foray led him to partner with Steve Riddle and Nick Terhaar in the Singing Sons of Beaches. Over the years Devlin held a variety of positions in investing and insurance, and worked hard to take good care of his clients.
The family and friends of Missoula artist Doug Baldwin. He died of natural causes Dec. 10; he was 79. Baldwin was born Jan. 6, 1939, in Bottineau, ND, and the family moved to Missoula when he was a sophomore in high school. After graduating from Missoula County High School, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1961 from the University of Montana. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, and served two years as an illustrator before returning to the University of Montana for graduate studies. Baldwin completed his master’s degree in printmaking in 1965, and was awarded a scholarship to study ceramics at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. After completing his studies in New York, he taught art for three years at the University of Wisconsin before beginning his long career as a ceramics professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He was chair of the ceramics department for several years, and retired in 2004 after nearly 34 years of teaching. Upon retirement, he moved back to Missoula where he found a warm and welcoming community of friends and artists. Baldwin never stopped making art, and spent most of his days at the Clay Studio of Missoula. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Montana in 1994, and was awarded the Maryland Institute College of Art Medal of Honor in 2003. During the course of his career, his work was exhibited in several countries and around the United States. A Missoulian story, published Dec. 16, characterized his sculptures as featuring “little anthropomorphic ducks, expressive figurines in red terra cotta. He planted them in scenarios, more often than not humorous ones.” Of his own approach to art, Baldwin told the reporter, “I just have a good time. I really think that if someone sees my work and they smile, it’s successful.”
The family and friends of Irene J. Muir. The long-time Great Falls resident passed away peacefully Feb. 2 on the eve of her 102nd birthday. She was born and raised in Great Falls, where she met and married her high school sweetheart, Jack Muir in December 1940. They lived in Chuquicamata, Chile, for five years before returning to Great Falls where Muir followed her passion for music and art. She volunteered for the Community Concert program, playing the piano, and pursued her love of watercolor painting. After moving to Butte in 1969 she opened and operated the Summer Gallery for several years. She displayed her artwork at numerous local shows, taught watercolor classes and remained an active member of the Montana Institute of the Arts. She also loved golf and travel and was a member of the Butte Country Club. In later years, as her vision declined, she returned to her musical roots. An accomplished piano player, she entertained her friends and neighbors at Big Sky Senior Living playing their favorite melodies from her memory of an accumulated 100 years of music.
The family and friends of Montana native, author, and lifelong activist Patricia Nell Warren. She died Feb. 9 in Santa Monica, CA, after a roughly three-year battle with cancer. She was 82. Warren is best known for her groundbreaking love story The Front Runner, a novel that features an openly gay Olympic runner and his closeted coach. The 1974 New York Times Bestseller is credited for changing the lives of gay men and women around the world and even inspired an international running organization of the same name. Warren was born in Helena in June 1936. Four years later, her father Conrad, or Con, Warren bought the Grant-Kohrs Ranch in Deer Lodge, where Patricia and her brother Conrad grew up. There, the two Warren children followed in the footsteps of their great-grandfather, Conrad Kohrs, learning the ins and outs of the cattle business and living a Montana ranch life. “You could tell she absolutely loved growing up in Montana … she loved the freedom of the ranch and the Deer Lodge area,” current Grant-Kohrs Ranch Superintendent Jacque Lavelle told the Montana Standard. According to Lavelle, Patricia’s family is credited with preserving a nearly unbroken 120-year history of the ranch, first when Con Warren sold the ranch – along with every object and record associated with it – to the National Park Service in 1972. And over 30 years later when Warren and several family members founded the nonprofit arm of the national historic site, The Grant-Kohrs Ranch Foundation. Warren served on the foundation board since its inception and often posted various histories, memories, and other stories of the ranch on the foundation Facebook page. She was vice president of the ranch foundation in the last two years of her life. The ranch area is believed to be where her love of animals, especially horses, and gardening stemmed from, as well as the source of inspiration for many of her literary works, including her first novel, The Last Centennial (1971); One Is the Sun (1991); My West (2011); and more.
– Excerpted from the Montana Standard, Feb. 18
The family and friends of prolific author and Livingston legend Richard S. Wheeler. He died at his home on Feb. 24; he was 83 and had been diagnosed with leukemia in late January. Since he took to writing books full time in 1985, Wheeler authored more than 80 titles – westerns, novels of historical fiction, even some detective novels. His most loved work includes the Barnaby Skye series, which follows a frontiersman character, and The Richest Hill on Earth, a historical novel about the Copper Kings of Butte, to name but a very few. His output has not gone unnoticed: The Western Writers of America honored him with six Spur Awards, the 2001 Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement, and a 2015 induction into its Hall of Fame. Wheeler was born in 1935 in Milwaukee, and was raised in nearby Wauwatosa. He studied history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but did not take a degree. After trying his hand, very briefly, as a screenwriter in Hollywood, Wheeler started his writing career as a newspaper reporter and worked for a series of newspapers in the 1960s, including the Billings Gazette, where he drove into work each day from a cabin outside of Roundup. He later worked as a cowboy on a ranch in the Arizona borderlands and as an editor for book publishing companies before giving up a steady paycheck and moving to Big Timber to write novels at the age of 50. He eventually settled in Livingston, which he said became the “literary center of Montana” after many writers moved to the area in the 1970s and brought with them filmmakers, musicians and artists. Scott McMillion, a Livingston writer and the publisher of the Montana Quarterly, praised Wheeler’s contribution to western literature. “Richard did a lot to help people understand the real West, as opposed to the mythic West,” said McMillion. “His stories, especially his later stories, are about people making a living and living a real life in the West.” In 2000, Wheeler married Sue Hart, an English professor at Montana State University-Billings and a longtime friend. The couple kept their own separate houses – she in Billings, he in Livingston – and spent weekends together until her death in 2014. If there’s a word besides “author” or “storyteller” that comes quickly to peoples’ tongues when they speak of Wheeler, it’s “gentleman.” A week before he died, Wheeler received a note from painter and former Livingston resident Russell Chatham. “I’ve followed your writing for many years, four decades at least,” Chatham writes, “and nothing has ever moved me to change my opinion you are the finest author who ever lived and worked in Montana.” Wheeler has left his estate to the American Prairie Reserve and an archive of his work to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Elk River Books in Livingston will take over management of his body of published work.
– From the Livingston Enterprise, Feb. 28