ROUNDUP — Merle Eugene Hunt, of Roundup, died Saturday, March 23, 2013. He was born Aug. 22, 1925, in Fonda, Iowa, the oldest of 12 children, to Harold Richard Hunt and Helena Collman Hunt. Two children died in infancy. Merle is survived by one brother, Shelby of Demming, N.M.; sister Orletha in Indiana; sister Lenora, also of Indiana; and sister Lois of Oregon.
Merle and his siblings were raised on a farm, working along side their parents, surviving the Great Depression. After graduation from high school, in Cincinnati, Iowa, he joined the Navy and served in World War II as a radioman in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. While Merle was in boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, he was sent to the University of Idaho in Moscow. There, he received a degree in radio science, math and Morse code and other code building courses.
He was an honorably discharged veteran at the end of the Pacific conflict of WWII. Merle returned to Iowa and worked on various farms, sometimes for his uncles in both Minnesota and Iowa. He also worked in the steel mills of Gary, Ind. He decided this was not for him and told everyone he was heading west, possibly to Oregon. He never looked back.
He married Jeanette Scott and they stopped in Roundup on the way to Oregon — he never really left Roundup after that. He and Jeanette had two daughters, Shirley and Deborah. They were divorced a year later. Faced with raising two young daughters on his own, he enlisted the help of his aunt, Mary Hunt Kruger. He worked the oil fields in and around Glendive. It was there that he met the love of his life, his sweet Lou! They were married on May 29, 1956, in Glendive, Mont. Merle and Louise had a daughter, Pameula, born in Baker, Mont., in 1957.
Merle and Louise settled in Roundup in 1959. Merle began buying land and raising cattle and horses. He also worked in the oilfield business in various supervisor and consultant positions. He and Louise bought a water well drilling rig in 1966 and started Hunt Water Well Drilling Inc. He enjoyed horses and drove his horse and mule teams in parades in Montana and Wyoming. After he sold his business, he and Louise bought their dream home and he went into the hay business.
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He loved the state of Montana and served on many boards and committees, both state and local. He was past president of the local VFW, the Roundup Ridge Riders Club (several times), the Roundup Cattle Drive and the Montana Well Drillers Association. He was a member of the Montana Stockgrowers and the Cattlemen's Association. He also contributed greatly of time and money to the Roundup Rodeo and Parade and the Great Cattle Drive of ’89, the Montana Centennial. He took his sweet Lou to the Governor's ball in Helena to celebrate the 1989 anniversary of Montana. Merle was a member of the Lutheran Church. Merle was a great friend of people, animals, and the Big Sky Country. He was a lifelong Republican.
He is survived by his wife Louise Weidner Hunt — they would have been married 57 years in May. He is also survived by three daughters, Shirley (Tom) Mayo of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Deborah (Calvin) Lear of Lavina, Mont., and Pam (Mike) Stigen of Roundup; grandchildren Rachel (Rob) Morehead of Billings, Dylan Thomas Mayo of Redmond, Wash., Riley Scott Mayo of Poplar, Mont., Celestial (Howie) Coppel, Shawna (Scott) Sessions, Damon (Lisa) Lear, Brandon (Heather) Lear, and Eric Stigen in the armed forces stationed in North Carolina. Merle and Louise have 15 great-grandchildren.
Merle was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Richard, Dale and Roger; sisters Leanna and Florence; and one grandson, Donald B. Janich.
Services are Saturday, March 30, at 11 a.m. at Wier Funeral Home. Memorials may be made in his memory to Roundup Memorial Hospital or the charity of your choice.