Michael Leonard ArtAugust 6, 1931 ~ October 25, 2017 (age 86)
For those who knew him best, Mike Art was a devoted husband, loving family man and father to his daughters Andy and Jackie, as well as a father figure to many of his long-time employees. He was a dear and loyal friend who told and retold the corniest jokes known to man, most of which he had “borrowed” from his comedic heroes.
He will, of course, be remembered as an accomplished entrepreneur, raconteur, hotelier and philanthropist whose visionary ideas revived and sustained Chico Hot Springs, the Paradise Valley resort he purchased in 1973, until its sale in 2015.
He shared credit for his success with his beloved wife of 65 years, Eve, and together they enjoyed a life of hard work and active play, traveling to the four corners of the world and taking annual vacations in Mexico and on their rowboat in the Bahamas.
Michael Leonard Art, who passed away on October 25, 2017, at age 86, was born in Chicago on August 6, 1931, to Jacob and Carol Art. His father died when Mike was only 12. After completing his schooling at Case Western Reserve University with a master’s degree in speech and rhetoric, he served in the U.S. Army, stateside and in Germany. Upon his discharge, he settled in Cleveland where he owned and operated a haberdashery, Man’s World, and a chain of shops called Hot Pants and Other Seat Covers.
In the late ‘60s through early ‘70s, Mike and his family visited Montana, staying at the 63 Ranch. It was on one of his solo trips that he bought Chico, calling home to tell Eve that he had bought her a ranch.
While rebuilding the dilapidated resort, Mike also held other business interests: The Longbranch Saloon and the original Livingston Bar & Grille, among others. He became active in the Chamber of Commerce, serving as its president, and was an active member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He pursued his interest in theater as both an actor and financial supporter of the Firehouse Five Theater, the Blue Slipper and the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts, as well as the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra.
He is remembered for his portrayal of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” a role he reprised in 2007. In 2014, he and Eve were honored as Grand Marshal of Livingston’s Fourth of July Parade.
Mike was an amicable host at Chico who could find a way to make the grouchiest of guests laugh. He was a man of his word, generous to a fault, and was true to himself, living large with a robust appetite for fine food and wine, martinis-with-a-twist, and coffee ice cream. He loved dogs, his race horses, and sports of any kind. He believed in the mission of the Stafford Animal Shelter and was a staunch supporter of the organization and its annual Fur Ball.
He forged countless friendships over his lifetime and counted Ralph Ferraro and Mike Cetraro as his closest pals. Mike was also close to Boyd Shuldberg, his horse trainer. In more recent years, he discovered that he shared a unique history with Don Gimbel and Jim Liska (birthdays in the same week, ten-ten-and-ten years apart, all born at Michael Reese Hospital on Chicago’s near south side) and the Three Amigos was born.
Mike will be missed as an active member of the community, but will be fondly remembered for his generous spirit, fun-loving attitude and all of those jokes.
Mike is survived by his wife, Eve, daughters Andy and Jackie (Ron Enders), and countless friends.
If desired, donations in Mike’s memory may be made to the Bozeman Symphony, 1001 West Oak Street – Suite 110, Bozeman, MT 59715 or the Stafford Animal Shelter, 3 Business Park Road, Livingston, MT 59047.
A celebration of Mike’s life will take place when the spring flowers bloom.