Central Montana Obituaries

In memory of those we've lived with,

loved with,

and learned with.

Our finest regards.

Martin J. “Jim” Killham, 90

Martin J. “Jim” Killham, 90, passed away on Friday, February 8, 2019.  He was born September 18, 1928 in Lewistown, MT; the son of C. C. “Noisy” and Myrtle Killham.  

On May 15, 1951, Jim married Shirley Stephens.  Jim and Shirley lived in Lewistown and had six children.  September 4, 1987, Jim married Harriett Dirkson and they resided in Lewistown until the time of his death.

After high school, Jim entered the Army.  He was a marksman and ranked as a Sergeant.  He received the WWII Victory Medal. He worked Army Security.

Jim returned to Lewistown where he became a member of the Sheriff’s Department and later the Police Department.  Jim spent 33 years with Production Credit Association, retiring as the Vice President. He came out of retirement to become the Executive Director at the Eagles Manor for over 20 years.  He retired a second time in 2012.

Jim was very active in the community.  He was a visionary for the building of the Eagles Manor and the Fergus High School/Performing Arts Center.  He was a member and/or officer in the Eagle Booster, Jaycees and Kiwanis clubs. He was a huge supporter of Fergus sports and the voice of the football games for several years.  Friends remember the exact spot Jim sat in for the Golden Eagle basketball games; he rarely missed a game. For many years he hosted the booster hospitality room at the tournaments.

Jim enjoyed rodeos, country music, golfing, bowling, hunting with his sons, riding his paint horses, boating, camping, spending time with his grandchildren, and watching baseball.  Every summer, Jim shared his love of Atlanta Braves baseball, boating at the lake and camping in the mountains with his granddaughter Jamie Horacek and, later, great-grandson, Ryeant.

Jim is survived by his wife, Harriett and first wife/friend, Shirley Myers; sons, Russ (Lori), Steve (Jackie), Marty (Joy); daughters, Cindie (Tom) Evans, Jaimie (Terry) Noel, and Patricia Hamilton; grandchildren, JR, Ray, Angela, Jason, and Jamie; and 7 great grandchildren.  Jim had numerous extended family members to include stepchildren, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren.

Jim is also survived by siblings, Anna Mae “Polly” Golliday, Richard Clayton (Sharon) Killham, Beverly Knerr, and Barbara (Lyle) Grindheim; sister-in-law, Betty Killham; and numerous nieces and nephews.  

Jim is preceded in death by his parents; brother, Lloyd Joseph “Joe”; sister, Mary Elizabeth “Betty”; and brothers-in-law, Bud Knerr and Warren Golliday.

Memorials, in lieu of flowers, are requested to the Fergus Eagles Booster Club or charity of donors’ choice.

Viewing will be held Saturday, February 16, 2019, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Creel Funeral Home Chapel.  Graveside Services will follow at the Lewistown City Cemetery at 11:00 a.m. with Military Honors.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home.  Jim’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com

Alice Noreine Simons, 96, returned to her heavenly home, on February 11, 2019, in Lewistown, Montana.

Alice was born in Roundup, Montana on December 31, 1922 to Noreine and Bill Ryan. Alice attended Eastern Montana State Normal School in Billings, Montana and received her 2-year degree in education in 1942 and her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1965. Alice married the love of her life, Kenneth Morefield, on June 13, 1942. Alice and Kenneth had two children, Noreine Brown (Morefield) and Vivian Andary (Morefield). Kenneth passed away at a young age, leaving Alice widowed. Alice was blessed to marry again on March 1, 1968 to Al Simons and gained a daughter, Lori Walking Eagle (Simons) and two sons, Bobby Simons and Jeff Simons.

Alice was a beloved member of her community and touched many lives. She taught school in Central Montana for 30+ years and after retiring, continued to babysit kids, well into her old age. She loved each of her students and kids that she babysat. Alice often said, “If you love what you do for a living, it isn’t work.”

Alice was a devout Christian who loved her Lord and Savior. She was a faithful member of the Assembly of God church and loved many members of the congregation. She led an exemplary life by not only talking the talk, but truly walking the walk.

Prior to her passing, Alice wrote, “Please, please don’t grieve for me. I’ve lived [96] years and 98% of it was good. I have loved and been loved by my family, my husbands, my grandchildren, and my dog[s]. I’ve had a fabulous career and loved my work.”

Alice is survived by her children: Noreine (James) Brown, Vivian (Gary) Andary, and Lori (Allie) Walking Eagle; her grandchildren, Kenneth Brown, Kevin Brown, Matthew Brown, Dustin Brown, Starr Brown, Heidi (Mark) Ambrosius, and Lisa (Dave) Doget; her siblings, Mary Ruff, Helen (John) Mears, Celia (Wayne) Chilten, and Delia Turley; many great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and many other children that she loved very deeply.

Alice is preceded in death by both of her beloved husbands, Kenneth Morefield and Al Simons; and two brothers-in-law, George Ruff and Turla Turley; several close friends and many students that touched her life as much as she touched theirs.

A Funeral Service and celebration of Alice’s life will be held on Friday, February 22, 2019, 1:00 pm, at the Creel Funeral Home Chapel. A private viewing and burial will take place prior for immediate family. In lieu of flowers, please make a monetary donation to the Highland Park School Donation Fund, in memory of Alice Simons, beloved teacher.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Alice’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com


John E. Vaia, 57

On January 31, 2019, John E. Vaia, son of the late Barbara Canter and James Vaia passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Range, MT at the age of 57.

A native of Alexandria, OH, John attended Northridge High School, graduating in 1979 and continued his education at Lake Superior State University where he studied wildlife management and was a member of his college basketball team.  John’s passion from an early age was always “the great outdoors” where he spent much of his time hunting, fishing, and trapping.

After college, John came to Montana where he fell in love with the western skies and longline trapping.  He carved out a life in Central Montana, working hard to do it. He became an outfitter and professional trapper.  He was one of the best snaremen and trappers with the largest coyote catches of anyone in the Musselshell and Missouri Breaks.  He later became a fur buyer.

John wrote several articles about his exploits that were published in Fur, Fish and Game.

John started a fencing business serving area ranchers and the BLM, building hundreds of miles of fence across the prairies.  Throughout the years, John was able to “live the dream out here in God’s country” living the life he loved and creating a life for himself and his family.

John is survived by his wife, Diane Vaia of Grass Range; three stepchildren: Annie (Cameron) Fraser of Lewistown, Will (Michelle) Livingston of Billings, and Elizabeth Livingston of Missoula; seven grandchildren; his father, James Vaia; sisters, Cheryl Vaia (Herb Bressler), and Annie (Matt) Cacciato; brother, Mike (Tina Bolton) Vaia; and numerous nieces and nephews.  He is also survived by a trapping community that will miss him dearly.

At his request, cremation has taken place, no services are planned.  Memorial donations are requested to the Grass Range (QRU) Ambulance.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. John’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com