Eleanore "Mitzi" L. RichardsJune 12, 1952 ~ April 6, 2017 (age 64)
On April 6, 2017, Mitzi D’Ewart Richards 64, of Wilsall passed away at her home surrounded by family and with peace in her heart. Her faith in God’s grace allowed Mitzi to embrace her next journey as she believed with all her heart that her husband, Mike Richards, would be waiting for her to take her home.
Mitzi is survived by her mother, Pearl D’Ewart of Wilsall; her uncle, Bob Gwaltney, of Texas; her children: Christen (Shawn) Loendorf of East Helena, Frank Vincent of Belgrade, Tricia Ayers-Weiss (Travis) of East Helena, Mike Richards Jr (Barb) of California, and Josie Richards (Keith Chromey) of Lewistown; her grandchildren: Carlyn Tecca, Dustin Tecca, Emily Tecca, Apen Merritt, Brady Vincent, Arik Ayers, Carson Ayers, Keaton Ayers, Chris Cote (Mandy), Cutler Chromey, Jaycey Chromey, Mike Richards III, and Matthew Richards; her birth family including: her birth mother, Sharron Rhodes of Washington, brother Miles (Libby) Weatherson of Washington, sisters Gayle (William) Gatchel of Oregon, Jill Weatherson of Butte, and Melissa (Alan) Meador of Washington; her step siblings: Jim (Bonnie) Francis of Livingston, Sandy Small of Billings, and Nancy Hofferber of Billings; many “AWESOME” cousins and friends near and far and members of her church family who were very important to her. She was preceeded in death by her father, Bill D’Ewart, and husband, Mike Richards who passed away in 2011 from thyroid cancer.
Mitzi lived an adventurous life and touched the lives of many along the way. She was born in Helena on June 12, 1952, and was adopted at three months old by Bill and Pearl D’Ewart after spending the first three months of her life in Shodair Hospital. Mitzi grew up on the D’Ewart Ranch outside of Wilsall and was proud to graduate a Wilsall Longhorn in 1970. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in business education from Montana State University in Bozeman. Mitzi married Duane Vincent in 1974 and together they had three children (Christen, Frank, and Tricia). Although Mitzi and Duane divorced, Duane and his current wife, Judy, were steadfast friends of Mitzi and Mike.
Mitzi moved to Denton in 1986 where she taught business for 10 years at Denton High School and served as the Business Professionals of America advisor. She held a variety of jobs, including working as a substitute teacher, filling in at Bonnie’s store, and serving up delicious meals at Michael J’s, after she made the decision to “retire” from teaching. Even in “retirement” it was difficult for anyone to keep up with her busy schedule. Being the social butterfly that she was, Mitzi developed many life-long friendships while in Denton, and married her soul mate, Mike Richards, in 1999. Ever active in her community, Mitzi was the “Frist Lady” of Denton as well as “Mayor” of Denton after Mike’s term as mayor. She took pride in her community and was involved in several community projects to improve the overall conditions of the town of Denton.
Mitzi returned to the Shields Valley with her husband, Mike, in 2004. She made the decision to come “out of retirement” in 2006, and taught business at Shields Valley High School from 2006-2016. She developed the Business Professionals of America (BPA) program at SVHS and guided many, many SVHS BPA students to nationals and beyond. Her students were “her kids” and they, and the program, earned several state and national awards under her direction. Mitzi gave everything she had to her students and her community, no matter where she was living. Her dedication to and genuine love of teaching shaped the lives of her students and she was a mentor and positive role model to her peers. Mitzi was named the Montana Business Education Teacher of the Year in 2010 as well as the Montana Association of Career and Technical Educators Teacher of the Year in 2011. In 2016, she was nominated by a student and received the KBZK Gold Star Teacher Award for her care of the students and the lengths she would go to ensure that they believed in themselves to accomplish whatever they wanted in life.
Outside of teaching, Mitzi enjoyed camping, bowling, NASCAR, gardening, and ALL Shields Valley activities. She was a member of PEO Chapter P, Women of Wilsall, Build a Better Wilsall, Wilsall Foundation, and Wilsall Community Church. She loved spending time with friends and family, and went out of her way to support others. She has left an imprint on the hearts of many and her love of life, positive attitude, and insurmountable faith will be carried on by all who knew her. Though she will be dearly missed, we know that she is sitting in the gardens of heaven with her loved ones and friends who passed before her sending us love and light as she watches down on us all from the “best seat in the house” singing the Shields Valley Rebel Fight Song. We love you…..to the gate!
A memorial service and reception to celebrate the life of Mitzi Richards will take place at Shields Valley High School in Clyde Park on Friday, April 14, 2017 at 1pm. A family interment service will occur at a later date.