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Leroy Simonson (August 18, 1949 - November 5, 2023)

Leroy Allen Simonson died unexpectedly of a heart attack on November 5, 2023, in Malta, Montana, at the age of 74.

Leroy was born on August 18, 1949, in Havre, Montana to Roger and Kathleen "Ree" (Murdock) Simonson. He was their first-born son, delivered by Ree's sister and nurse, Marjorie (Murdock) Olsen. From that day on, Leroy and his Aunt Marjorie had a special relationship. He graduated from Whitewater High School in 1967. After high school, Leroy joined the National Guard while attending Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana, where he met Gale Waters.

Leroy and Gale were married on July 2, 1971, in Froid, Montana, at the Congregational Church. After the wedding, Leroy and Gale moved to the Simonson Ranch, where Leroy worked alongside his father, Roger. Leroy and Gale's first son, Matt, was born in 1972, followed by twin boys, Chad and Jerry in 1974. In 1975, the family moved to the Dwayne Compton place, north of Loring, where they established the U2 Ranch. In 1978, Leroy and Gale welcomed a second set of twins, Krystal and Shon.

Leroy spent a lifetime farming and ranching, taking the good years with the bad. His grandson, Trace, commented that Grandpa was happy about the calf prices this year, and he was glad he went out on a good year. Leroy was also an experienced pilot. He obtained his pilot's license while in college and purchased his first airplane in cash, with money earned from selling coyote pelts. He flew his Super Cub airplane on the farm and ranch regularly, checking cows, water, crops, and grass. His son, Matt, and granddaughter, Kourtney, followed in his footsteps, and are both pilots as well. In his earlier years, when he wasn't farming and ranching, Leroy also enjoyed team roping. Leroy and Gale and the kids spent many weekends at ropings in Whitewater, Turner, Loring, Saco, Malta, and in Canada. In 2012, Leroy and Gale bought a home in Maricopa, Arizona, and started spending the winters in Arizona, where his brothers, Lynn and Danny, also winter. In Arizona, Leroy enjoyed golfing and visiting the dirt mall to find a good deal, but most of all, spending time with family and visiting the many friends, new and old, that also wintered in Arizona.

Leroy was a friend to everyone. He was kind, generous, and genuine, and he had a smile that will be remembered by all. For the last thirty years or more, Leroy was a member of the Malta Men's Club, "Bucket". The group meets once a month for dinner, and he always looked forward to the opportunity to visit with friends. Leroy attended Bucket the evening before he passed.

Family was always a priority for Leroy. When the kids were younger, the family spent many weekends at the Simonson family cabin at Nelson Reservoir with extended family. There were also trips to Fort Peck Lake to spend time with the Waters family, trips to the Heartland Ranch to hunt, and ski trips in the winter to Big Mountain. Leroy truly enjoyed his family, and all 24 of his immediate family members prioritized time together. Most recently, the family took trips to Cabo, Yellowtail, and the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho. When they weren't vacationing together, often they were all at the U2 for branding, harvest, shipping, or holidays. It didn't matter where they were at, only that they were together. Endless amounts of laughter, storytelling, and smiles were always present.

He is survived by his wife, Gale, his children, Matt (Heather), Chad (Leslie), Jerry (Susan), Krystal (Bryce), and Shon (Amy), as well as 12 grandchildren, Kourtney, Trace, Beau, Abigale, Jackson, Annika, Dylan, Kennedy, Haedyn, Walker, Samuel, and Harper. He is also survived by his mother, Ree, and siblings, Lynn (Eunice), Danny (Judy), and JoAnn (Howie), and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Roger Simonson, and his father-in-law, George Waters.

Services were held on Monday, November 13, 2023, at the Malta Lutheran Church, followed by burial at the cemetery. The family also gathered on Sunday, November 12, 2023, at Howie and JoAnn Hammond's residence to share stories and welcome family and friends.


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