By Robert Lucke
Longtime Havre residents Margaret and Ted Heberly choose to give back in many ways to the town that has been good for them through the years. Their gifts mean a lot to those who benefit.
Recently the Heberlys gave a large donation to the Havre-Hill County Library.
It is always a humbling experience to discover how very generous people are after they realize how much their support is needed, said Havre-Hill County Head Librarian Bonnie Williamson. The Heberlys made their donation just before they went south for the winter and this spring when they returned, Margaret came in and first thing she wanted to know is if we had installed the new air conditioner yet.
Education is important to the Heberlys and libraries are an important aspect of education.
We felt we had to give away some money and one of my favorite places is the library, said Margaret Heberly. I am a great reader and the Havre library has done so much for us. The access there to state libraries is great. Bonnie does great things and just think my daughter worked there when she was in school for 35 cents an hour. She would have worked for nothing, though. She just liked working there.
The Heberlys give to the Heritage Center and to their church, St. Marks Episcopal. But it is education where both Margarets and Teds interests lie.
Our kids got a good education in the Havre schools and we feel that giving to Havre is a way of paying back for that education, said Ted Heberly.
Local education as well as state education has been on the minds of the Heberlys for years now.
Ted Heberly was a member of the Havre School Board for nine years and served as chairman for seven years. He was appointed and served on the state Board of Regents for seven years. But never was anything more important than Havre schools.
Education is very important to us, said Ted Heberly, Havre schools have always been important to us.
Margaret Heberly was born in Choteau, and Ted was born in Great Falls. They met when both attended high school at Fort Shaw. Ted got an engineering degree at Montana State University in Bozeman, they married, General Electric snapped them up, and off to New York and then San Francisco they went, with Ted having good paying engineering jobs.
Missing Montana, they came back home, leaving those high paying engineering jobs.
Can you imagine? Here I was back in Montana with a wife and two children and no job, said Ted Heberly with a smile. Why, my parents must have thought we were crazy.
Back in Montana, the Heberlys got a job in Malta and later moved to Havre where Ted worked as an engineer with the Hill County Electric Co-op.
In 1953, Heberly started his own business, setting up an engineering company which his son, Jim, heads yet.
Heberlys have three children, JoAnne, John and Jim.
We have two great grandsons to show how old we are, said Margaret Heberly with a grin.
While living in Havre, Margaret Heberly got an elementary education degree at Northern Montana College and served as secretary for five of the leaders at Northern Montana Hospital.
The Heberlys worry about the state of the economy in this part of Montana.
We think Havre is not doing so well, said Ted Heberly. How long has it been since Havre has had an increase in population? You know one of our sons is fortunate enough to be able to work here, but many people have to go elsewhere to find jobs.
As to the state of MSU-Northern, although so much of the fate of state institutions is political, Heberly is positive about the Hi-Line schools future.
I think it will keep chugging along, but it depends so much on politics. Great Falls has always been mad because they have not had a unit of the university system there, Ted Heberly said. Well now that Northern has a Great Falls campus and it is all run by Montana State University. I am afraid that if we dont watch it, it will all slip into Great Falls.
The Heberlys have some advice for anyone thinking about giving to state and local organizations.
You know I was on some foundation and at the state level they want you to deed over your whole house or ranch to them, said Margaret Heberly. I think I would like to encourage people to give things to Havre where gifts are wonderful whatever they amount to.