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Eugene J. Schmitt

HAMILTON - Eugene Jacob Schmitt, 95, passed away Wednesday, May 9, 2001, in Spokane due to natural causes.

Eugene was born Saturday, June 10, 1905, in Adelsburg, Germany, the eighth child of John and Anna Maria (Michler) Schmidt. Eugene received his primary and secondary education in his home village, then traveled to Munich and apprenticed as a locksmith.

At the age of 17, Eugene followed what he called his "happy feet" and walked through much of Germany, exploring the country as he worked. In December 1926, he emigrated to the United States, entering his country through Ellis Island, N.Y., then traveling to North Dakota to join his older brother John Schmitt and family as a farmer. He worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma, taking care of the mules that turned the drill, and also traveled through many states when he worked with threshing crews.

Eugene married Lillian Hanson on Dec. 5, 1932, in Fessenden, N.D. In 1935 they moved to the Bitterroot Valley for a short time to live and work because of the depression and drought conditions in North Dakota. Eugene returned to North Dakota where he farmed, then traveled to work in the shipyards of Vancouver, Wash. After World War II, he signed on to travel with a shipload of horses being sent to Poland by the government to help farmers there.

While in Europe, he traveled to within 100 miles of his home village before having to turn back to catch his ship home. The destruction of the countryside and time constraints prevented him from making it all the way to his village, although he and Lillian were able to make two trips to Germany to visit friends and family in the 1970s.

In 1950 Eugene and Lillian moved to the Bitterroot Valley again and bought a small farm on Hamilton's west side. He worked for the Forest Service and railroad for several years, then started a berry farm. He finally retired in 1967.

Eugene loved his family, their gatherings, hunting, fishing and reading. The church and his faith sustained him through many difficult times. His active mind kept him in pursuit of new knowledge and understanding his entire life.

He was preceded in death by wife Lillian in November 1991, son Larry Dwight Schmitt in March 1992, and six sisters and one brother.

Eugene is survived by Willis and Sandy Schmitt of Hurdsfield, N.D.; Addie and Ardin Sallquist of Spokane; Jim and Grace Schmitt of Hamilton; Julie Jacobson of Missoula; special daughter-in-law Dorthy Brenneman of Hamilton; nine grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, one great-great grandson; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited to view Eugene from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, May 14, at the Dowling Funeral Home chapel. A vigil service will be celebrated at St. Francis Catholic Church in Hamilton at 8 p.m., Monday.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15, at St. Francis Catholic Church, with the committal service to follow at Riverview Cemetery in Hamilton. The Rev. Jack Darragh will be the celebrant. Friends are invited to share their memories with the family at the reception after the committal service at the St. Francis Catholic Church parish center.

Memorials may be sent to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospice of the Bitterroot, 1150 Westwood Dr., Hamilton, MT 59840.

Winifred Diehl VanDerhoff

PLAINS - Winifred Diehl VanDerhoff, 87, passed away on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, at her home in Plains of natural causes.

"Winnie," as she was known, was born June 18, 1913, at Colville, Wash., the second of six children of John and Ethel Coogan. As a young girl, she moved with her family to Orin, Wash., a small lumber mill town where she attended grade school. She later attended Colville High School.

In 1932 she married Harry Russell "Dutch" Diehl. The couple made their home in Colville and later moved to Sandpoint, Idaho. In 1945 the family moved to Camas Prairie, where Dutch was woods boss for his brother Jim Diehl. Due to a shortage of houses at that time, Winnie moved her family into the cookhouse and for the next two years cooked for 15 to 30 men every day. They later purchased the Nirada Lumber Mill at Nirada and the family lived at Hot Springs. While living at Hot Springs, Winnie worked for Dr. Mathias and for the Sanders County Hospital at Hot Springs.

In 1964, her husband was killed in a logging accident at Thompson Falls Lumber Company. Winnie then went back to school at Spokane Community College. In 1966 she ran for Clerk of Court of Sanders County and served as clerk until her retirement in 1980.

In 1969 she married Robert R. VanDerhoff and moved to Plains, where she had lived ever since.

Winnie is survived by son and daughter-in-law, Russell and Jean Diehl of Big Arm; daughters and sons-in-law Janis and Swede Morigeau of Hot Springs and Patricia and Jerry Donais of Spokane; sister Dorothy Morgan of Yakima, Wash.; step-daughters Mary Lynn VanDerhoff and Joan Haugan of Missoula and Jane Smiley of Columbia Falls; and eight grandchildren and twenty great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Monday, May 14, at Plains Alliance Church with the Rev. Joel Banham officiating. Burial will follow at Plains Cemetery.

Coffelt-Bunch Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.

The tide recedes but leaves behind bright seashells in the sand. The sun goes down but gentle warmth still lingers on the land. The music stops and yet echoes in sweet refrains. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains. (Helen Steiner Rice)

Richard Owings

KALISPELL - Richard Owings, 60, of Kalispell, died of CNS lymphoma on May 12, 2001.

He was born June 26, 1940, in Butte. He married Marie Fredricksen on Dec. 23, 1961, in Anaconda.

Richard's mother and father preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife, Marie; daughters Julie Esquibel and husband Michael of Cheney, Wash., Lisa Owings of Kalispell, Jennifer Vickhammer and husband Brad of Twin Falls, Idaho; and son Michael Owings of Spokane. Richard is also survived by his uncle David Hughes of San Antonio; brother-in law and sister-in-law Wayne and Elena Fredricksen and nephew Alan Fredricksen, all of Simi Valley, Calif. and niece Nicole Fredricksen of Madison, Wis.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Kalispell. A reception will follow at the church.

Otis Owen 'Duke' Phelps

MISSOULA - Otis Owen "Duke" Phelps, 67, passed away early Sunday morning May 13, 2001, at the Village Health Care Center.

Duke was born in Wheatland, Wyo., on Sept. 23, 1933, the son of Otis Owen Phelps Sr. and Lucreta (Wilson) Phelps. He grew up in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, and moved to Spokane in the late 40s. Duke loved to fish and hunt and enjoyed his dalmatians and his cats.

He was preceded in death by parents and brother William.

Duke is survived by his wife of 38 years, Nadine Stevers Phelps of Lolo; his children and their spouses Keith and Jan Phelps and family of Spokane, Rhonda and Clyde White and family of Newport, Ore., Rex Phelps of Hamilton and his family of Pomeroy, Wash., and Natalie Phelps of Hamilton and her family of Helena. Duke is also survived by his stepchildren Dianna and Warren Haigh of Ronan and her family of Lolo, Colleen Phelps and her family of Lolo, Renee and Dustin Harner and family of Lolo, and Stephen Whitlock of Lolo.

At Duke's request only private family services will be conducted. Cremation has taken place. Garden City Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

Duke's granddaughter Whitney Harner best remembered her grandfather in a poem she wrote, "Grandpa." "As I look across the endless sky, I wonder why the Lord has chosen you to die. As you look down on us and see our eyes flooding with tears, you begin to cry. The last words I heard from you were 'I love you and don't forget that.' And then you were gone, not to say 'bye.' To my grandpa who passed away on Sunday, May 13, 2001, at 1:45 a.m."

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