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MISSOULA — Gary Tavenner, a true Montana native, passed away Feb. 26, at his home in Missoula. A proud descendant of the Williams, Tavenner, and Bielenberg families of Deer Lodge, Gary was born April 14, 1941, to Donald Williams Tavenner and Mary Ellen Bielenberg Tavenner, joining older brother Dean. Younger brother Lee completed the family. Don and Mary instilled a love of Montana history, photography and aviation in all three boys. Don led the clan on frequent family adventures to Mexico, Arizona, and his beloved Glacier Park.

Gary graduated from Powell County High School lettering in football, basketball and track. Many of his Warden classmates remain lifelong friends. His college career was spent at Montana State in Bozeman where he was a Sigma Chi preparing for a career in ranching with majors in accounting and economics. 

In 1963, he married Lynn Ellinghouse of Sheridan, Montana, moving back to the Williams and Tavenner Ranch to join his father and Uncle Bob in the family business and Montana ranching tradition. After the untimely death of his father and sale of the ranch, Gary built custom homes and owned and operated Pioneer Hardware in Deer Lodge. A new career with ASCS/Farm Service Agency brought him to Missoula where he was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Missoula and attended Grace Methodist Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Don and Mary and brother Dean.  He is survived by his wife Lynn, daughters and sons-in-law; Gloria Tavenner Dow (Dean) of Reno Nevada, Tanya Lynn Hauenstein (Dennis) of Spokane, Washington, and Laura Louise Sokolowski (Ken) of Denver, Colorado; grandsons Cody Hauenstein (Amanda), Ryan Hauenstein, Zane Sokolowski, and Cy Sokolowski; great-granddaughters Hayden and Emersyn Hauenstein, brother Lee and Mary Hamilton, cousin Martha Klaumann (Stan), numerous nieces and nephews, cousins and many dear friends.

Gary’s family remembers and appreciates his quiet, care taking demeanor, his work ethic and his good humor in the face of adversity. He was an encouraging swim, basketball, cheer and life coach to his daughters, a construction foreman for the entire family, and an avid Mullan Road historian throughout his entire life. Gary believed anything was possible, “If a guy had a few tools, and a little know how…”

Services will be Saturday, March 16, 2019, 11 a.m., at the Grace Methodist Church on the corner of 10th and Garfield, Pastor Todd Scranton officiating, with a luncheon reception to follow. Memorials may be made to Grace Church, 1756 10th Street West, Missoula, 59801, or Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation, 1106 Main St., Deer Lodge, Montana 59722, or one of the donor’s choice. If you are unable to join us for the service, walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, sprinkle huckleberries on your ice cream, chuckle at a limerick, join Stan at the sink to do the dishes or contemplate a historic, geologic or geographic roadside sign. Gary will be with you. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at

the life of: Gary Tavenner
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