WHITLASH - Claude Smith "Claudie" Demarest, 92, of Whitlash died Friday, April 15, 2005, at the Marias Medical Center in Shelby.
A funeral service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Whitlash Presbyterian Church. Following burial in the Whitlash Cemetery, a reception will be held at the Liberty Hall.
Claudie was born Sept. 4, 1912, at Great Falls to Harry and Amelia (Brown) Demarest. He grew up on the family ranch in the Sweetgrass Hills and received his formal education at Whitlash. Following his school years, Claudie began working with his dad on the ranch.
In 1930 he met his wife-to-be, Elsie R. Wehr, a North Dakota native who had come to Montana to teach rural schools in the Sweetgrass Hills. Claude and Elsie were married on Dec. 23, 1934, in Havre. They made their home on the Demarest Ranch, where they raised a family of two. They were happily married for 62 years when she died on Oct. 5, 1996. Following Elsie's death, Claudie remained active in the ranching operations with his partner, best friend and son, Douglas. He was still helping with calving details until a few weeks ago, when he developed pneumonia.
Claudie was a longtime member of the Galata Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star. He was also active at the Whitlash Presbyterian Church. He served as a director at Marias River Electric for 48 years before retiring several years ago. In addition, he managed the Liberty Hall in Whitlash for many years.
Claudie's passion in life was his ranch and everything related to it. He collected samples of all the native grasses and categorized them as to type. He was fascinated with cattle and horse brands, had several brands of his own. In addition Claudie had a large collection of books and magazines relating to ranching, rodeos, western histories and biographies, and Montana histories.
Claudie was an original Montana cowboy. In those early years on the ranch, he broke horses for himself and his neighbors. For many years, he trailed cattle from the hills to the Chester stockyards for local ranchers. In 1929, he was an active participant in the Liberty County wild horse roundup. Because of his love of livestock and rodeos, Claudie helped sponsor a special rodeo that was held in Chester in 1934. In the late 1930s, he learned to spay heifers. Over a span of 50 years, Claudie spayed literally thousands of heifers each season throughout northcentral Montana. Because there was a shortage of good cowboys during World War II, Claudie was recruited in the fall of 1945 to work at the St. Paul, Minn., stockyards. In the 1950s, Claudie began raising registered Hereford cattle and helped form the Marias Hereford Breeders Association, in which he served as past president. At age 87, Claudie was encouraged by family and friends to write his memoirs. His story, "Cardboard Ponies to Buckin' Broncs," was published in 2001.
Claude was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, and
a sister, Mabel Iverson.
Survivors include his son, Doug, of Whitlash; daughter, Auverne (Tim) Dieffenbach of Stanwood, Wash.; sisters, Helen Weber of Kalispell and Lucille Ritter of Lakeside; six grandchildren; seven grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester.
Memorials will be given to the Liberty Hall in Whitlash or donor's choice.