Jack J. Halverson was born Jan. 18, 1932, to Lee and Dahlia Halverson. He died on Sept. 12 at the age of 87.
Jack’s first childhood home was a tent while his dad built a home of ties salvaged from the Pryor Rail Line. Located at the head of Sue Jane Coulee, the homesite included a groundwater spring house with cold storage. The outhouse was just a short walk away. Even as a small child, Jack was responsible for starting the fire to warm the house and thaw the water basin in the morning. Then he would crawl back under the covers to stay warm beside his parents. Jack loved the hills, plains, and mountains south of Billings. They were the source of his fondest memories.
Jack and his sisters Bethene (Vermandel) and Shirley (Turner) rode horseback several miles cross country to Morin School. Jack graduated from Billings Senior High in 1950, completed basic training, and served in the US Army as a helicopter mechanic.
Before entering the service, he met Frances Wennemar at a country dance near Pryor. She was blonde and — how tall? She told him, ‘5’10 ¾’, and don’t forget the ¾! Jack loved telling that story. He loved Frances’ spirit and loved dancing with her, and when he returned from the service, he and Frances were married.
They settled on Eldorado Drive in Billings and welcomed children Jim, Pam, and Duane Scott. Later, Jack and Frances lived on Blue Creek. A dog or cat or two was always part of the family. Jack’s last dog was his beloved Lady Bug.
In 1984 they moved home for good to Pryor Road, where Jack could again look south to the Pryor mountains and watch the weather and the seasons across his hayfields. He worked the ranch with his father and later his sons and grandsons, setting many a sturdy brace post. He built fence including on the Pryors near the ‘Honeymoon’ cabin. He drove over 700 pairs from Bittercreek to the Dryhead at the base of the Pryors, with his ‘brothers’ Gus Raines and Clyde Finley, childhood friends who also went into the service with Jack. He took great pride in what his labor yielded while humbly embracing the unpredictable gifts of Mother Nature.
Although always occupied, Jack still took time to notice the singing meadowlark. He appreciated a quality pair of boots and looked good in a cowboy hat astride his favorite horse.
Jack was a 22-year veteran of the Billings Fire Department. He made many lifelong friends as he worked his way up the ranks from Ladderman to Fire Chief.
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Above all, Jack was able to operate any type of equipment or fix virtually anything. His mechanical aptitude was so superior that one little grandson was convinced Grandpa could repair a broken balloon. Jack’s shop was filled with tools, projects, and things he planned to re-purpose. Nothing was wasted or misused — the lesson a Depression-era child never forgot.
He and Frances were an indomitable team. She supported him with outstanding meals, complete packed lunches, well pressed work shirts, and an expertly managed home. Their dinner table always had room for the grandkids and friends. Jack and Frances thoroughly enjoyed supporting grandkids at music concerts, sports events, and birthday dinners. Grandpa’s camper was their haven, especially in the rain or snow. Jack relished these family outings and taught his grandkids the art of the ‘Western Story’ — an embellished tale of bygone times.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Frances; sister, Bethene; infant son, Jon; and nephew, Allan Hergenrider.
Jack is survived by his son, Jim (Elizabeth) Halverson of Billings; daughter, Pam Goll of Gillette; son, Duane Scott (Aileen) Halverson of Green River; grandchildren, Benjamin (Christina) Halverson, John (Virginia) Halverson, Eric Halverson, Jamie and Gary Goll, Andrea (Jeremy) Simon, A.J. Halverson, and Andrew Halverson; seven great grandchildren; sister, Shirley; sister in law, Barb Wennemar, and many nieces, nephews, and other family.
Heartfelt thanks to the staff at Butterfly Assisted Living and Billings Clinic. Jack requested cremation and to have his ashes interred beside his beloved wife at Sunset Memorial Gardens, and at the ranch, in a family service to be held at a later date.
Jack’s life was filled with the rewards of hard work, devotion to his family, enjoyment of friends along with a good party, and love of the land. We have been lucky to have Jack with us for so long. He danced with his wife for more than 50 years, saw his children’s children grow to adulthood, and never lost his enjoyment of the quiet vista from his house south to the Pryor Mountains.
Arrangements are in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel and memories and condolences may be shared at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com