BOZEMAN – Don Leuschen passed away in Bozeman on June 14, 2012, from complications caused by a heart attack suffered in mid-April. He was 86 years old.
He was born in Jordan on June 23, 1925, to Mathew and Martha Leuschen. His father homesteaded a small ranching operation outside of Jordan in the early part of the 20th century. He was one of 10 children born to his parents either on the family’s homestead northeast of Jordan or in town. He was educated in the local Jordan public school system and graduated in May 1943 from Garfield County High School.
In early June 1943, Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 to assist the war effort and ultimately became an electronic technician’s mate first class, serving in the Pacific theater of World War II aboard USS LST 642 (Landing Ship/Tanks). He and his ship saw fierce action in several important battles of the western Pacific, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the war ended, Leuschen was stationed for a time in occupied Japan and was ultimately awarded an honorable discharge from the Navy in March 1946.
He returned to Montana after the war and enrolled in courses at Montana State University in Bozeman, ultimately earning an electrical engineering degree in May 1950. It was at MSU that Leuschen met the person who would become his wife for the next 63 years, Myrtle Tannehill, who was raised on a ranch outside of Roundup. The two were married June 13, 1949, in Roundup and honeymooned at the Richel Lodge off the Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge.
Shortly after graduation, Don began what would ultimately be an almost 40-year career with the Montana Power Co., first working as a lineman in the Lewistown district of the company and ultimately serving in a variety of management positions around the state. His MPC career would take him and his family from Lewistown to Missoula, Butte, Bozeman, a brief stint in Yellowstone National Park, Glasgow, Great Falls, Billings, back to Missoula and, ultimately, again to Butte, where he retired as the president of Montana Power Co. and a member of the company’s board in 1989. Myrtle and Don then built their dream house and retired in Bozeman.
The couple had three children: David, born in Lewistown; Diane, born in Lewistown ;and Vicki, born in Missoula.
Donald was an avid outdoorsman and champion of Montana. He loved to fish, hunt, ski, garden and generally participate in any form of outdoor activity. He was also very active in the various communities where he lived, especially Bozeman, having served in a variety of senior roles with the Boy Scouts, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and Score, among others.
He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Bozeman. He was especially proud of being a charter member of the Bozeman Sourdough Lions Club to spearhead the activities for the Bozeman Creekside and Kirk parks. In addition to his numerous community activities since his retirement, Leuschen has also been active over the past 20 years helping his son build cattle ranching operations outside Roscoe and Cooke City. He loved the ranch and proudly shared it with his fishing and hunting pals. He also received years of pleasure from tending the 17 bluebird houses placed at the ranch by him.
Don is survived by his wife, his three children and four granddaughters, Alexia, Jordan and Madeline Franks and Maria-Wilhelmine Leuschen. He is also survived by two sisters, Margaret Grauman of Billings and Irene Compton of Columbia Falls.
Don served his family, his country, his state and his company with great love, devotion, humor and integrity and will be greatly missed. Memorials should be made to the charity of your choosing.
We welcome relatives, friends and caregivers to a memorial and celebration of Don’s life Saturday, July 21, at the Story Mansion, 810 S.Willson Ave., in Bozeman beginning at 4 p.m.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.