ARLEE — Art was born May 9, 1946, to Louie and Adeline Fyant, on the Fyant family homestead in Valley Creek, near Arlee. Art passed away Feb. 6, 2019, surrounded by family and loved ones. A proud member of the Confederated and Salish Kootenai Tribes, Art was one of thirteen children growing up on the Valley Creek ranch. With no running water or electricity during most of his childhood, he came from a family with modest beginnings, but rich in virtue, love, and respect for others. He attended grade school at the Ursuline boarding school in St. Ignatius. As a young boy, Art enjoyed spending a good portion of his summers staying with his eldest brother, Eddie Vanderburg, who worked for the forest service manning a nearby lookout. Art attended high school in Arlee, graduating from Arlee High in 1965.
Art attended Western Montana College, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He went on to teach sixth grade in Nespelem, Washington, for a total of five years. Art enrolled in Arizona State University during this time, spending his first few summers as a teacher, earning a master’s degree in education in 1972.
In 1974, Art returned to Arlee to teach sixth grade. He built a house on part of the family homestead, where he raised his own family. Art was a school teacher for a total of twenty-seven years, retiring in 1996. He taught over five hundred students, teaching them English, math, history and science. Art took his career seriously, and enjoyed helping kids learn. He was always proud of his former students when hearing of their success as adults.
Art had the respect of many parents, students and colleagues. Over the course of many years, teachers were easily able to identify students who had been in Art’s sixth-grade class. He required his students to be prepared to learn, and that was a trait they retained for many years. They also remembered the discipline that Art required as he taught. Art's abilities as a teacher were recognized the year he was retired, as he was named teacher of the year by the tribal education department.
Once Art retired, he was able to focus his time and energy into his true calling as a golfer. Art immersed himself in the science and mechanics of amateur golf, winning the men's senior division club championship in 2003 and again in 2004 at the Ronan Golf Course. He developed many friendships and acquaintances over the years on the golf course. In his retirement, Art had the time to enjoy reading all the books he wanted. He loved to read. He was a regular at the Book Exchange store in Missoula, trading in books and always acquiring more. It was not uncommon for him to read over two hundred fifty books in a year.
Art was married twice. He always kept himself busy, working on projects during the summer and making a better life for his family. Art was known for his sharp wit, keen sense of humor, and the ability to achieve whatever he set his mind to. Known for his strong work ethic, Art was truly a self-made man, who enjoyed many accomplishments throughout his life. The one thing he was most proud of was being a grandpa to his two beautiful grandchildren, who he absolutely adored. You were guaranteed to bring a smile to his face just by mentioning their names.
Art is survived by his sons Steven of Lewistown and Brian (Mindy) of Ronan, and his two precious grandchildren, Aliya and Marcus. He is also survived by his sister Frances Vanderburg of Arlee, brothers Gordon Fyant (Gale) Polson and Robert "Bobby" Fyant of Arlee, and his numerous nieces and nephews.
A Rosary will be held at the Arlee Community Center Friday, Feb. 7, 2019, at 8 p.m. A Funeral Service will be held at the Arlee Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2019, at 11 a.m. Pall bearers are his brothers Gordon Fyant and Bobby Fyant, son's Brian and Steve Fyant, nephews Tommy Sheridan and Jim Steele, and his dear friends Bud Moran, Hank Adams, Dan Luedtke and Brian Cavey.