NINEMILE — Carol W. Guthrie left us to join her beloved pilot, (Joe) on Aug. 11, 2019. Carol passed away peacefully at her home in the Ninemile Valley near Missoula.
Carol was born in Springfield, Missouri, to Floyd and Ruby Melchert. Her youth was brisk with youthful adventures like hopping trains to visit nearby friends, crawdadding at the local watering hole, and sneaking into the slaughter house for horns and tusks. Seeking opportunities elsewhere, her family eventually settled in the Antelope Valley area of California. There, on the family ranch, she consistently outperformed her male counterparts as she wrangled livestock, bucked hay and herded poultry. In addition, she became an avid horseman, winning numerous rodeo and horsemanship awards, all while attending school. After graduating from high school, at the young age of 17, Carol began her long and illustrious career at the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base in California. She had a meager beginning as a clerk in the budget office. Through her hard work, intelligence and tenacity, she quickly became the budget officer in 1975. A short time later she became the deputy comptroller in 1979, and she served in that position until her retirement in 1991. During her time at Edward’s Air Force Base, Carol met the love of her life, Joe, who was the commandant of the test pilot school at Edwards. After both retired, they packed up and moved to the Ninemile Valley in western Montana, where their dream home awaited.
Carol and Joe quickly established themselves as part of the Ninemile community. Carol was keen in keeping Ninemile’s conservation, history and beauty at the forefront. She was always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it. Carol helped designate the Ninemile Stark School House and the Church as part of the National Register of Historic Places. Carol’s greatest asset was her prolific skills as an author, commentating in publication in several books about Glacier National Park, including its centennial book. She was the recipient of several writer’s honors for her contributions. Up until her passing, Carol kept writing. Her first book, "The First Ranger," had just been republished. She also added-in and co-authored several books that include, "Lady Long Rider," "Death and Survival in Glacier National Park," and several others.
Carol was the "Leading Lady" of the Air Force Flight Test Center; a prolific supporter of the Ninemile community; a wonderful woman, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, mentor, our heart and soul. She will truly be missed.
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Carol’s memory forever lives on through her children, grandchildren, step-children, friends, coworkers and anyone that ever met her.
Memorial Services will be held at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula on Friday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. followed by a celebration of her life at the Ninemile Community Center.
Donations in Carol and Joe’s memory can be made to the Society of Experimental Test Pilot Scholarship Foundation at http://setp.org/scholarship-foundation/scholarship.html or by mail to SETP, PO Box 986, Lancaster, CA 93584 or in Carol’s memory a donation to Glacier National Park at http://setp.org/scholarship-foundation/scholarship.html or by mail to Glacier National Park Conservancy, P.O. Box 2749, Columbia Falls, MT 59912.