Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

Fred Itcaina


August 14, 2019

Malta- Fred Itcaina passed away on August 10, 2019, at the age of 92.

The family will receive friends at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 15 at the Kirkwood Memorial Chapel. Funeral Mass will be 10 a.m. on Friday, August 16, at Saint Mary's Catholic Church. Interment will be in the Malta Cemetery. Condolences for the family may be left at

Ferdinand (Fred) Itcaina was born in Urepel, France on September 13, 1926, to Juan (Jean) and Leonie (Oyarzun) Itcaina. He was the oldest of seven children, raised on the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains in the Basque Country. He finished school at a young age, worked for his parents tending the livestock, and then served in the French military. Fred left his family and homeland and emigrated to the United States in the fall of 1948 planning to go to work for his Uncle Pete Itcaina at his sheep ranch in Montana. After arriving in the US, he went to California first and stayed with family for a few months. In the spring of 1949, he came to Montana and began working for his uncle at the Matador Ranch south of Malta. In 1951 his brother, Jean joined him in Montana. After gaining experience and learning the operations of a large sheep ranch, while working for Pete, they decided to form the Itcaina Brothers partnership in 1957. They ran their livestock on the Hartmann Ranch and at the Big Warm location. Fred loved being out on the open range caring for his sheep and cattle where he could see for miles.

In 1963 he married Evelyn Miller. They had three daughters Darlene, Rachelle (who passed away shortly after birth) and Beverly. After his Uncle Pete passed away in 1967, Fred, Jean and John Sallaberry formed a corporation combining their assets and the purchase of the Matador Ranch. As the new owners, they took over the operations of the Ranch and continued to run both sheep and cattle. In 1981 Beverly passed away and in 1985 Fred became a widower. Seven years later he married Madaline Williamson and his family grew and was blessed with the addition of her four children.

The ranch was sold in 2000 and he gradually worked into retirement. Fred, Madaline, and John spent their summers at the Hartmann Ranch. In the winter John would go to France and Fred and Madaline would stay in Malta where they enjoyed spending time with their friends and going to events. After becoming a widower in 2015 most of his time was spent in Malta with his family.

Fred enjoyed reading and keeping up on current events locally, nationally and internationally. He spent time studying maps and was very knowledgeable about the geography of Montana, the US, and the world. He was always interested in politics and was very proud to be an American citizen. He was a man of few words much of the time, but when he did speak his words were laced with knowledge and experience. He also had a great sense of humor and always made people laugh where ever he went.

Fred was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a very dedicated parishioner of St Mary's Church. His faith was very important to him. He felt honored to be a member of the Malta Club (Bucket), and he looked forward to the dinners and seeing his friends every month. He had memberships in the MT Wool Growers Association, the National Wool Growers Association and the Montana Stock Growers Association. He also served on the Phillips County Hospital Board.

Fred is survived by his daughter, Darlene (Charles) Itcaina-Idehen; four step-children: Deb (Lee) Wolfe, Kathy (Steve) Plettenberg, Milo (Ira) Jennings and Jack (Kelly) Williamson and ten step-grandchildren; as well as step-great-grandchildren. He had numerous nieces and nephews including Leona (Paul) Siewing and Terri (DJ) La Verdure who were like daughters to him and their children were like his grandchildren. His three sisters: Marieanne Iribarren, Marie Angele Igoa and Hennriette Itcaina living in France. He is also survived by his lifelong friend, John Sallaberry, who has been like a brother to him.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Evelyn, and daughters Rachelle (infant daughter) and Beverly; his second wife, Madaline; brother, Jean and sisters; Helene Ernaut, and Yvonne Diharce.


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