Gary Lee Draszt was born to Marion (Lee) and Joseph Charles Draszt on December 28th, 1936 in Plentywood Montana. His parents farmed in Sheridan County then moved to the Whitepine community NW of Thompson Falls in the spring of 1935. J.C. Draszt rented, then purchased the Alvers ranch along Big Beaver Creek where eldest son Kenneth would put up the hay crop. The 24th of December of 1937 the Draszt family moved into a log cabin on the property that was to be their home. Four days later, Gary became a one year old.
Gary attended elementary school at Whitepine and later graduated from Thompson Falls High School in 1954. When his father died in a logging accident that fall, he remained at home to operate the ranch with his mother. He continued to live and work the ranch for 40 years, raising Herefords and then milking cows and selling the milk to a cheese factory in Sandpoint, Idaho.
During the years on the family ranch he cleared land for hay and pasture. Gary was happiest driving the old HD9 Cat where he could first hand see what he had accomplished. He worked hard, long hours and also worked outside of the ranch to support his family through tough times.
He married Joan Huff on March 23rd, 1956 in the Whitepine Community Church and they lived on the Draszt ranch for 25 years, then moved to nearby Thompson Falls. Three children; Charles, Norma and Jacqueline were born to the couple in the early years.
Gary was employed at Pyatt Lumber Co in Thompson falls after high school and rose from delivery boy to sales manager. When the business was sold he remained for another year during the transition. He then worked for Pack River Lumber Co., Then for W-I Forest Products for several years. Again starting at the bottom of the ladder and rising to Sales Manager, then General Manager. When W-I Forest sold, Gary started a weatherization business (The Wood Shop) and that business soon metamorphosed as he became a general contractor. In the following years he began doing general home and apartment maintenance for local property owners and although he tried to retire, he could not change old habits, so continued to work.
Gary joined the Whitepine Grange #102 in 1961 after having served in their Juvenile Grange and has been a “Granger” for much of his life. He served that organization over the years and had guided the building of the Whitepine Grange Hall. He held most offices over the years at the local, county, and state levels, and took the seventh degree when the national Grange met in Spokane Washington.
He was also an active member in the Thompson Falls Jaycees, while they were active in the community. And was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce during the course of his business operations.
When the Rivers Bend Golf Course was originated, he helped as needed. And when a windstorm took down the old clubhouse, he contributed to the rebuilding effort. Gary not only golfed, but also loved to bowl. He and fellow teammates began bowling at the Thompson River Ranch Lanes, then at the Riveraire Lanes in Thompson Falls. He also bowled on a league at Plains for three years that he lived there.
He was most proud of his time served on the board of the Whitepine Cemetery District. He began serving in 1955 and worked to get it upgraded via the creation of its tax district. He left that effort when he moved out of the district in 1979. Gary was a member of the Clark Fork Valley Elks for many years but was inactive in later years. He also became a member of the Masons in Plains and transferred to Thompson Falls when he returned to the community.
Gary was honest and caring and did his best to be available to anyone who needed a helping hand. He was often seen throughout the community plowing snow or shoveling when needed where the plow would not go.
Gary and Joan enjoyed trolling the nearby lakes and rivers in their boat, and loved roaming the region where he grew up, picking berries or picking rocks to plant in Joan’s rock garden. They were seldom separated, and truly enjoyed each other’s company. The couple celebrated their 65th anniversary this year. “True Love” was never a doubt as he found his place back alongside her 8 days after her passing.
Gary was predeceased by both parents and an older brother and is survived by:
Children; Charles (with Robin) Draszt in Sun City West Arizona, Norma (with Mike) Knudson in Arlington Washington, Jacqueline Peele in Thompson Falls
Grandchildren; Michael (with Stephanie) with great grandchildren Aaron and Lori Ann from Washington, Rebecca (with Matt) Clark in Kalispell, Mt with great grandchild McKenzie, Cameron Draszt in Edmonds Washington, Doug Peele and great grandchildren Kaylie and Madyson in Plains Mt., Kelly (with Rob) Bitterman and great grandchildren Brandon, Terrin, and Harper in Missoula Mt., David (with Megan) Draszt and great grandchildren Stella and Owen in Arlington WA
Extended Family; Sister Ardith Divine of Spokane WA., Niece’s: Laura (with Jim) Redmond, Cheryl (with Mike) Roberts of Cheney, Debbie (with Chris) Cornell of Spokane, Jack Divine of Spokane and all their respective families. And cousin Darrel Draszt of Auburn Washington and his extended family.
A public graveside service will be held November 6th, 2021, at the Whitepine/Trout Creek Cemetery. This will be followed by a friends and family gathering at the family home in Thompson Falls.
It is requested by the family that any desired memorial donations be made to a scholastic scholarship fund of your choice.
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