Robert T. Smith, 88 of Forest Grove, MT, died at his home on Thursday, Oct. 3rd, 2019 surrounded by family. He was the oldest of 5 siblings, born Feb 19, 1931 in Harrison, Nebraska. He graduated 8th grade from Dryland School and then high school in Grass Range, class of 1949. Robert served in the Navy during the Korean War and was proud of his military service. In the Navy, he was shipwrecked in AK and was one of only 19 survivors of 90 on his ship. After his military service he worked on the railroad, at the Smelter in Great Falls, in Alaska building airstrips, and on numerous Montana ranches. He married Alice Charbonneau in 1957. In 1969 he fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his own ranch and purchased a ranch in Forest Grove. He always maintained that it was the most beautiful ranch in Montana and called it the “Woofagator Ranch”, where he raised Angus cattle and grain. For 44 years he was also a rural mail carrier (accident free) for the Flat Willow/Fairview route.
Bob was active in the community as a lifetime member of the VFW, 50 year member of the American Legion and 42 year member of the Fraternal Order of the Moose where he earned their highest honor, the Pilgrim Degree. He also served numerous other community organizations over the years. Bob was known for his colorful storytelling and sense of humor, kindness and generosity. Along with Alice they hosted many gatherings at their beloved cabin. Bob leaves a legacy as a conservationist, he loved the land and managed the ranch with respect for nature and wildlife. He built hundreds of blue bird houses over the years that are scattered across the ranch.
As a child Bob learned to hunt to feed their family and he was an excellent marksman. He loved to big game hunt above all and mentored many first time hunters. Robert also loved woodworking, welding, creating metal art and he relished a good deal at an auction. By default he ran the unofficial “Forest Grove Repair Shop” as he could fix anything. He collected antique tractors and equipment and had all the stories to go with them. He was generous with his time, talent and expertise. He was determined, had a strong work ethic and always had a project he was working on. He was a perpetual optimist and never let things get him down.
Robert is survived by his wife of 62 years, Alice. Daughters: Marcella Manuel (Tom) of Red Lodge, Laura Finkbeiner (Karl) of Grass Range, Lynn Saari (Daryl) of Rochester, MN. Grandchildren: Justin Finkbeiner (Anna Berg), Katie Bacon (Josh), Amelia Siroky (Chad), Trent and Kayla Saari and great grandson Kelly Bacon. His constant companions were his dog Duke and Buddy the cat, as well as many lucky pets that went before them.
A celebration of Robert T. Smith’s life will be held Wed, Oct. 9th, at 10:30 at Cloyd Chapel in Lewistown. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family. Cremation has taken place.
Friends are asked to make memorials to Central Montana Veterans Memorial Park, where he was the initial donor for the Navy statue, or the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.