STEVENSVILLE - Ivan E. Howard, 89, passed away peacefully at his home near Stevensville on Feb. 12, 2018, with family members at his side.
Ivan was born near Musselshell, Montana on Sept. 29, 1928, to George B. and Marie (Kelham) Howard. He was a self-described “depression kid” and spent his early childhood in Eastern Montana. He joined two older sisters and one older brother on the family farm. The family grew to include eight children.
Ivan started school at Musselshell and finished second grade there. In the summer of 1936, the family moved to the Bitterroot Valley, where they lived at various small farms in the Stevensville area. Ivan attended elementary and high school at Stevensville. Like many 16-year-olds of that era, he lied about his age in order to work for the Forest Service as a summer firefighter and lookout. He also worked with the packers occasionally, and made several trips into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.
Following high school graduation in 1946, with his best friend Al Sampson, he enlisted in the Army and soon found himself in South Korea serving with the 7th Infantry Division. “I’ve never been so damn cold in my life,” he would later tell his friends. He worked with the military police, and was highly respected for his intelligence and common sense.
After he was discharged in 1948, he attended the University of Montana at Missoula and completed his bachelor’s degree in economics. Ivan worked as a commercial and personal credit counselor and assistant manager with Commercial Credit Corporation, Metals Bank and Trust Company, and First State Bank in Missoula, Butte, and Chinook. In 1960, he opened the Missoula office of First Montana Finance Company, where he was responsible for start-up operations for one of four new branches of the Montana Corporation.
In 1960, he married Lois Paulson. They had both grown up in Stevensville, had dated briefly when Ivan returned home from Korea and had become reacquainted after a chance encounter at Emma Dickinson School while Lois was teaching there. In 1963 they built a new home near Stevensville and moved there permanently.
In 1965, Ivan entered the world of real estate. He created residential land developments in many neighborhoods including Iron Cap, Bass Creek, and Kootenai Creek, along with several commercial enterprises throughout the valley. Lois, who retired from teaching in 1972, joined him at Red Ranch Realty as sales associate and later as broker. In 1982, Ivan and Lois built “The Wye” convenience store and gas station at the Stevensville junction, which they owned and operated for 13 years. They also owned Red Ranch Mini Storage. In 2000, they sold the storage units and retired so they could travel and enjoy their home. Ivan worked hard, but he also knew how to play. He appreciated happy hour with his friends. And every fall he looked forward to hunting in eastern Montana. When the temperatures dropped and the snow began to fall he and Lois headed south to enjoy winter vacations in Arizona. In 2010 they celebrated their very special 50th anniversary in a private resort in the Southwest. The freedom to travel made him feel as if he had truly found success.
Ivan is survived by his wife, Lois, of the family home; his daughters and their families, Suzanne (Sheldon) Vernon, Condon; and Kathy (John) Mohar, Troy; grandchildren, Justin Vernon, Corvallis, Oregon; Sky Bledsoe, Lakewood, Washington; Laura Wambold, Spokane, Washington; Ian Mohar, Troy; and three great-granddaughters; his special nephews, Steve Rodda of Elko, Nevada, and Don Schaefer, Stevensville; his brother Thomas Howard, of Girard’s Fort, Pennsylvania; sisters Alice Dickinson, Portland, Oregon; Helen Swanson, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Dorothy Hunter, Missoula.
He is predeceased by his parents; his half-brother Astle Howard, half-sister Blanche Campbell, sister Ruth Handke, and nephew, Jeff Rodda.
A celebration of his life will be held in the spring. A date and time will be announced in the Missoulian. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Hospice of Missoula, Pantry Partners at Stevensville, or your local 4-H Chapter. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.