Robert James Stermitz of Gardiner, Montana, died peacefully in his home in Cinnabar Basin, surrounded by family, on December 31, 2023, after a twelve year battle with brain cancer. He was 51 years old.
As a child, he enjoyed hiking on the family ranch, gardening, looking for arrowheads, reading, and cracking jokes. He also cherished his two sisters and his beloved childhood dog, Fritz. Rob first became an uncle in high school, where his love for his niece and nephew was an insight to the wonderful father he would become. He met the future love of his life when he was five years old and she was just two. They were high school sweethearts and married on June 15, 1996. He graduated as Valedictorian from Gardiner High School in 1990. He was an amazing high school athlete, holding 5 school track records at one time. He attended Montana State University on an academic scholarship and was a sprinter on the track team. He formed deep friendships with his fellow teammates and remained close through the years. While attending MSU, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and pursued his Master’s in Soil Science. Rob worked for the Yellowstone National Park Service as a Landscape Architect for 24 years. He and his wife also own Wilderness Connection Outfitters, where they host guided hunts, horseback rides, and vacation rentals on the family ranch. It was his life’s dream to be able to raise his sons on the same ranch that his great grandfather homesteaded in 1900. He and his wife spent many years restoring the original ranch buildings, ensuring that the history of the ranch could be shared with others.
Rob and Stacy welcomed four sons; Bryson, Luke, Tyler, and Joel. Rob was so proud of his boys and never missed an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with them or cheer them on and support them in all of their endeavors. Rob was devoted to the youth of the community with his involvement as a 4-H leader, and a high school track and basketball coach. He was a member of the Gardiner Community Church and had a heart for service. He enjoyed chaperoning mission trips with the youth to help repair homes in underprivileged communities.
He was never one to complain that he was dealt a bad hand in life; when he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 39, his faith and positive attitude were an inspiration to others. Rob also had an adventurous spirit and loved making memories with his family through the many worldly travels that they were able to enjoy together. He loved to swing dance, and took every opportunity to dance with his wife, or his “bride” as he always lovingly introduced her as. Rob’s quick wit, humor, and smile were contagious, even until the very end.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Stacy (Ballagh); his children, Bryson (Chloe) Stermitz, Luke Stermitz, Tyler Stermitz, Joel Stermitz; his mother Lorayne Stermitz; his sisters Sharon (Llane) Carroll and Kara Stermitz; and 13 nieces and nephews. Rob was preceded in death by his father, James Stermitz.
A Celebration of Rob’s Life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, January 6, 2024, at Gardiner High School. A reception will follow in the Multi Purpose Room. Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either the Gardiner Fire and Ambulance, PO Box 307, Gardiner, MT 59030 or the scholarship fund for their sons.
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