KALISPELL - Robert A. "Bones" Gorton, age 83, passed away on Sunday, May 11, 2003, at the Immanuel Lutheran Home in Kalispell. He was born in Columbia Falls on Jan. 31, 1920, to Oren "Jack" and Mary (Lippard) Gorton.
Robert attended Columbia Falls schools until 1930, when the family moved to Kalispell following the death of his father. In his youth, he was an avid horseman, roaming the Flathead/Glacier valley areas and working for the Forest Service in high school. He was a talented Flathead Braves member, lettering all four years in track, basketball and football. Robert's enthusiasm for his favorite sport earned him the colorful nickname, "Bones Crusher."
College years included working in Kodiak, Alaska, with survey crews building Army, Navy and Air Force bases, putting up ice at Lake Five for Great Northern, and working for Somers & American Timber Lumber. He attended the University of Washington and University of Montana, where he played football.
Robert served in the European Theater of Operations as a lieutenant, squad leader with the 71st Div. U.S. 3rd Infantry, later rising to captain. At the end of WWII, he played with the ETO championship football team. Upon returning from Europe, Robert married Lois E. Falkner of Kalispell on Sept. 4, 1946. He returned to the University of Montana, again playing for the Grizzlies and earning his BS and later his MS degrees. He earned the honor of being named by one of the major college polls to an All America team. He was a member of the Gamma Phi Chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity.
His professional career included teaching history, physical education, and coaching track and football at Billings Senior High. He also taught and coached at Lewis & Clark Junior High in Billings. He served as dean of boys at Billings West High, followed by the principalship of Will James Jr. High. He was an NOA college and high school football and Montana State Track Official. He retired from the Billings school district in 1983 after 37 years.
Lois and Bones returned to the Flathead in 1994. Since September of this year, Bones resided at the Montana State Veterans Home Special Care Unit with the extended "family" of treasured caregivers. He will be remembered for his deep love of family, a dry, quick wit, great stories, magnetic bond with horses, dogs and babies. And fondly referred to as G.P. by his granddaughters and "the Bishop" by his lifelong friend, Warren Sparling.
Robert is survived by his wife Lois of Kalispell; his son Dave of Glasgow; daughter Donna Crocker and husband Jeff of Kalispell, and their three children, Kelcey, Kate and Ben and his wife Kiely, all of Missoula; son Jack and wife Emily and their three children, Aaron, Sara and Sean, all of Los Angeles; sister Claribell Jordan and her daughter Virginia Koenig of Kalispell.
Memorial services for Bones will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, at Johnson Mortuary Chapel with Kathy Eff officiating. Urn burial will follow at the C.E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery with military honors by the United Veterans of the Flathead. The family suggests memorial gifts be given to the Alzheimer's Association, 919 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60611-1676, or to Hope Options/Hospice, 175 Commons Loop, Suite 100, Kalispell, MT 59901.
Arrangements are under the direction of Johnson Mortuary & Crematory.