Gale A. Lair, 85, of Big Timber, Montana.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22 (NKJV)
Gale Lair, beloved husband, Dad, Papa, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, son and friend passed peacefully into the loving arms of our Lord Jesus Christ July 8, 2020. He came into this world September 8, 1934, delivered by his father in Norfolk, Nebraska. Let’s say he often was in a bit of a hurry. Perhaps that went hand in hand with his red curly locks and ruddy freckled complexion.
Growing up in Omaha, Dad met Roberta Danielson in high school Latin class. He was a whiz at this romance language…and, Mom, not so much. Together they conjugated verbs and apparently the rest is history. A football recruit for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, he played guard (Orange Bowl-1955) and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity graduating with a degree in business administration. Afterwards, Dad earned his wings as a pilot with the United States Air Force and was stationed out of various bases in Texas, Arizona, and Kansas, from where he piloted jets around the world. In October 1958, he broke the sound barrier in his F-86F. Following an honorable discharge in 1963, the now family of five moved to the Minneapolis suburbs nearer to our Danielson grandparents. We had an idyllic childhood with many happy family gatherings, lake outings, and camping trips to northern parts of the State. To say Dad was a great provider was an understatement. He valued and taught us hard work, making sure his children learned responsibility, respect, and gratitude.
Many wonderful experiences enriched Dad’s life, including his career in the oil and chemical business and travel to countries around the world. Perhaps his favorites were visiting our Swedish “cousins” with Mom and Aunt Shirley and a couple of trips to Australia. However, it was the many happy years at Red Lodge, yearly trips to the Jackson Music Festival and camping with friends and family that rejuvenated their spirits. Dad loved fall hunts with Doug and his grandsons in earlier years. He served on numerous church councils and was an ardent supporter and director of the Rocky Mountain College National Advisory Council and the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation Board. He was often called upon to donate his rare blood type. Seldom was a request for help turned down…most would say he was generous to a fault. Succeeding twenty-some moves in nearly as many years, Dad and Mom made the pivotal decision to make their home in Montana in 1977 where his career in the petroleum industry took on a new face and pace. The rest of us, too, were lured to the Rockies and now have called Montana home for over 40 years. Transplanted in the splendor of the mountains and high prairies, our family rooted themselves deeply in God’s Country and grew strong, multiplying with our mighty oak of a Dad as our patriarch.
There were many loves in Dad’s life: God was first. Mom most dearly. His family. Those whom he considered family-those who considered him Dad and Papa, too. His church family and Friday morning prayer group. His Masonic brothers. Children with special needs. Home-made peach ice cream, blueberries, barbecued steaks on the grill, balsamic vinegar, and anything from Jade Palace and JP Kitchen. Testing the food before it was served-several times. Home additions and renovations. Family celebrations. Music. Singing on road trips. A good hand in bridge. Solitaire and crossword puzzles. Bearhugs. Backrubs. Sports and music events of his kids and grandchildren – never missing anything and, of course, they were in everything! Nebraska football – Go Big Red! Our Kentucky trip and newly-found cousins and the Swedes. A great joke … sometimes a bad one. Lightning storms. A strong handshake. Making milkshakes for the grandchildren. And conversation!
Dad was preceded in death by his parents Harold John Lair and Adeline Eleanor Switzer Lair, his oldest sister Patricia Johnson, his in-laws Nels and Eleanor Danielson and brother-in-law Bob MacNamara. He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Bobbie, son Doug, and favorite daughter-in-law Mary, daughter Lisa and favorite son-in-law Pat Beddow, and daughter Lynn, along with seven deeply adored grandchildren: Patrick (Kayla) Beddow, Christopher (Dora Nagy) Beddow , Devon Beddow, Grant Lair, Abby Lair (Jake Ahmann), Andrew Lair, George Beddow, and great-grandchildren James and Claire Beddow. He is additionally survived by his sisters Darlene Mullen (Nebraska) and Penny (Elvin) Malburg (Texas) and brother Dana (Rosanna) Lair (New Mexico), sister-in-law Shirley MacNamara of McLeod, Montana and the MacNamara niece and nephews that considered him their dad, too, after the loss of their own father, as well as many special Lair nieces and nephews and the greatest friends a man could ever hope to have.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Pastor Julie Gellert, Dr. Ace Walker, Dr. Wade See, and all of the dedicated staff at Pioneer Medical Center for their loving care of Dad this year. In addition, the family is so grateful to Heather Mace and Kim Winters with Hearts and Hands Hospice and for Barb, Mary and Drew at Frontier Home Health. Appreciation is also given to devoted helper Louise Bainter and so many dear people who have prayed for Dad’s healing, comfort and peaceful passing. Thank you to Fr. Leo McDowell for the special blessing over Dad and Mass dedicated on his behalf.
Not only was Dad good to others, he was just plain good and good at many things. His wealth of knowledge was extensive. He recognized value, knowing not to judge a book by its cover.
Dad left us the most important inheritance of all: a relationship with God – the gift that surpasses any item that comes from man. Thank you, good and faithful servant, for a life well-lived. And thank you for being an example to your children and grandchildren – a model of faith, love, joy, and compassion. We shall love you and miss you each day of our earthly lives and look forward to the time we can each join you in our Heavenly home.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 14th at the Melville Lutheran Church. Lunch and refreshments will follow.
In lieu of flowers please consider gifts to Melville Lutheran Church, Hearts and Hands Hospice, RMC Scholarship Fund, Doric Lodge #53 or to a need of your choice.
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements.
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