Hubert Steven Simanton


January 9, 2019

It's his laugh we will remember. A rumble that rolled out of him with such joy, everyone was soon laughing with him. You could hear his laugh echoing in schools and gymnasiums, fields and churches, kitchens and coffee shops throughout the county.

Hubert Steven Simanton, who died of Alzheimer's disease Dec. 16, 2018, had a voice for the ages and he shared it generously. On Sundays, his deep bass filled Malta Lutheran Church and later, Whitewater Lutheran Church. At countless weddings and funerals, his performances of "The Lord's Prayer" and "How Great Thou Art" couldn't help but stir people's hearts. On candle-lit Christmas Eves, he brought "Joy to the World" to the entire congregation. His hands may have been rough, but he sang like an angel.

Speaking of titles, he had a few others. Devoted son, loving brother, beloved husband, protective father, playful grandpa, generous uncle, constant friend, tireless farmer, operatic singer, welcoming bus driver, gregarious storyteller and wrangler of cattle, sheep and Democrats.

Hubie never sang all the verses to a song. He said nobody wanted to hear him that long, so he would sing the first, second and sixth verses of "Amazing Grace." He worried when someone asked for "The First Time I Saw Your Face." He would say, "No way am I going to sound like Roberta Flack."

"I was always in awe that he never realized how good he was," said his wife, Carol. "I could have listened to him all day long."

We often hear that some people are "larger than life." Hubert actually was. When he popped out on July 27, 1937, at 14 pounds, the Hi-Line shifted a bit and was never the same again. It was 110 degrees that day, and when the doctor told his dad, Hugh, that mother and child probably wouldn't survive his birth, you could hear a father's grief throughout the hospital.

Hubert's love of tricks and teasing began early, a frequent target being his younger sister, Judi. "He was always pulling tricks on me," she said. Spit wads were a favorite game when Hubie babysat, but one of Judi's favorite memories is riding horses with her brother. Often, they would visit cousins up the road, and stay long past sunset. Their ride home would turn into a race at full gallop in the barrow pit, Hubie in front, Judi determined to keep up. The horses knew where they were headed and didn't stop until they were inside the barn.

Hubert attended Whitworth College, where he studied music for two years, before transferring to Northern Montana College to study mechanics and play football.

He met Carol Antonsen on a visit to Bozeman to see Judi. He came to the store where Carol worked to get a sprocket for his Honda and was impressed when she went to the back and brought him the one he needed. On their third date, sitting in his pickup, he asked her to marry him and they wed in Billings in 1972. He was 35 and she was 21.

"We definitely defied the odds," said Carol, who partnered him in every way.

They lived in Malta and worked on his dad's farm until 1993, when the family, which now included daughter Emma and son Bryan, moved to Whitewater after the pig market nearly collapsed. Hubert worked for several different ranches, and hauled water from gas wells for contractor John L. Deputy for 10 years, but he preferred to be his own boss, Carol said. For nearly 15 years, he drove the school bus in Whitewater. Hubie and Carol built a ranch of 80 acres together until 2016, when they joined Emma and her family in coastal Maine. Carol lives a mile up the road and is a devoted grandmother.

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease and Hubert was already showing its toll when they moved to Maine.

"It took the best qualities that Dad had and left a man who was angry and unable to figure out what was happening," Emma said.

He died peacefully, amongst his family, probably planning his next prank. His parents and older brother, Dwayne, preceded him in death, as did both his knees.

The family is grateful for all the comments friends and family have left on Carol's Facebook page:

"Hubie had a heart of gold and was everyone's biggest fan."

"I will fondly think of Hubie every WW Christmas Eve candle light service when it is time to sing Joy To The World. No one can sing that tune like Hubie could!"

"He always made you feel special and was such a wonderful gift to this world. His singing, his laughter and smile and infectious sense of humor."

"God's choir is rejoicing with the addition of Hubie's voice!"

Hubert leaves behind Carol, Emma and Bryan, nine grandchildren, sister Judi and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial service is planned for next summer in Malta.

Big Hubie, a poem by his sister, Judi.

Oh! He loved dancing and fixing things

like the tractor or the big red truck.

He loved to say hello to

Strangers in the oddest places

and laughed his head off at most anything.

He was a collector of sticks and stones

that only he could understand and use.

Did I say he was a singer and the official

Santa Claus of the Whitewater plains and

that he loved horses and going to the dump,

not to mention basketball?

He was a card star of the highest order,

a big man with huge, gentle hands

who loved dogs in any order.

He gave kindness to any animal except maybe pigs.

My white-haired Mama loved him best

but then I did, too.


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