HELENA — W. Lois (Smith) Lonnquist passed away on March 27, 2014, in Helena, Mont. She was born to Leonard and Stella (Fisher) Smith in Spokane, Wash., May 30, 1935, and lived most of her life in eastern and western Montana, and the Midwest.
She earned a BA in English at UW-LaCrosse. Her career in media spanned freelance writing, radio, television, and newspaper, including 13 years at the Helena Independent Record. She is the author of Fifty Cents an Hour, a history of the builders and boomtowns of the Fort Peck Dam described in “LIFE 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE” as “authoritative.”
Lois devoted her life to her beloved family and her writing. She shared her musical talents by playing for hundreds of dances and events as a teenager; and programs, dances, shows, and radio and TV programs with her husband Del and later with their children in the Lonnquist Family Band. Following the publication of Fifty Cents an Hour, she wrote a musical presentation based on the book which she and Del performed throughout Montana. She was an active member of the Lutheran church, her children’s schools, and the communities where she lived.
She was preceded in death by her parents; sister Lucille (Smith) Massick; son-in-law Bruce Darelius; four sisters-in-law (Violet, Ethel, Margaret, and Jerry); and five brothers-in-law (Norman, Evald, and Harold Lonnquist, Don Tanner, and George Massick).
Survivors include her husband Del; son Allen (Pam) Lonnquist; daughters Linda Darelius, Diana (Ilidio) Sacramento, Janis (Mike) Klebig, Joni (Gary) Rodgers; and son Roger (Janice) Lonnquist; 19 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren; a brother Stanley Smith; two brothers-in-law Dean Lonnquist and Vernon Petersen; three sisters-in-law Vivian, Florence, Beverly; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Cremation has taken place. A private memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Valley County Pioneer Museum, 816 Hwy 12, Glasgow, MT 59230 or the Montana State Historical Society, PO Box 201201 Helena, MT 59620-1201. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Lois.