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Community Obituaries

    Russell Vergason also known as "Russ" died peacefully in his home on September 29,2022 in Lewistown, MT. Russ was born to Iris and Frank Vergason of Lewistown, MT. On August 22,1956. Russ spent some of his life in Washington and New York and finished out his life back in his hometown Lewistown. Russ was known for riding his bike everywhere, making fishing weights,fixing bikes,fishing, spending time with his cats especially Bangee,his friend Art Heath whom he knew for over 50 years amongst other friends. Russ is Survived by his siblings- Alan Vergason, Cindy Burch(Greg Burch),Sandy Struck(Russel Struck),Ron Goery(Karen Goery). Nephew and Nieces - Julie Shick,Kristopher Thatcher,Justin and Josh VergasonGregory, Jonathon, Christopher, CodyBurch and Numerous family and friends. Russ is proceeded in death by his mother and father Iris and Frank Vergason. Russ was loved by many and will be deeply missed. 

    Celebration of life to be held on Saturday, June 10th, 2023 from 1-3 pmat Judith Mountain Players, 307 W Barnes in Lewistown

   Memorials may be made toSaving Animalsfrom EuthanasiaS.A.F.E.or to the charity of your choice.Condolences for the family may be posted online at 



Long time rancher, dear mother, cherished friend, proud American citizen and joy to those that knew her, Billie Lou (Barnard) Arnott, (93) passed quietly at her home, Friday June 2, 2023.

Billie Lou, born June 20, l929, the youngest of three, grew up on the prairies of south Phillips County.  Her parents William and Lucy Barnard were teachers and homesteaders there.  Her favorite mode of transportation from girlhood to the end of life was a horse.  At 90 she begged her family to just get her on a “gentle” horse and she would help us get the cattle up the Middle Fork.  

She attended a one room, stucco sided school house at Telegraph Creek for most of her elementary schooling, but took 4th grade in Malta, living in a single room with her high school sister.  Her mom sent home canned food to town each week for them to heat over a single hot plate.  

All “country kids” had to take a proficiency exam after 8th grade in order to attend high school.  Billie Lou passed her exam at the end of 7th grade.  Instead of going to school her 8th grade year she rode horseback and ranched with her dad only deepening her love of what she did all her life.

After high school graduation she headed to Montana State College by train from Malta, Great Falls, Helena to Bozeman where no one was at the station to meet her.  Billie Lou loved college and the privilege it was to earn an education.  She chose nursing as a degree but was an educator and lifelong student always reading and creating vocabulary lists.  It wasn’t unusual for her bed to have 2-3 history books open on it at any given time, reading when she couldn’t sleep.

She earned her nursing degree in 1951 and was honored just last year at her 70th year class reunion from MSU.

College chemistry lab paired her with a handsome cowboy from Utica, Ed Arnott, and they were married August 19, 1951.  Together those young ranchers proudly built their home and ranch that they lovingly shared with family and friends the rest of their lives.

Jeanne Mae came along in 1952 with Peggy Margaret Ann following close behind in 1953.  In 1958, Susan Lucy tagged along.

Because Billie Lou grew up on the back of a horse she didn’t know how to cook as a new bride, but like everything in her life she tackled the task and fed wonderful meals to family, friends, neighbors and hunters that came to the ranch.  There was always homemade bread, lots of roast beef and a large garden filled with produce.  The root cellar had an unlocked door and was filled with potatoes for any and all to help themselves.

Billie Lou was generous with her life.  Working hard at the ranch, she could run a buck rake like none other.  Her girls would beg to ride with her because it was fast and fun.  She could saddle up to gather or move cows, head to the lambing barn all the while running the ranch at Telegraph Creek 200 miles away.

She generously contributed to community events, planted numerous trees at Ackley Lake, was a long time 4-H leader, and Woman’s Club member.  She generously raised whatever child needed “time” at the ranch and loved them the rest of their lives.  She bought and gave numerous pianos, musical instruments, and music lessons to anyone she thought needed them.  She always said she didn’t have a musical bone in her body and the world needed more music.

Billie Lou always had garden produce and flowers to share and in her late 80’s took meals/flowers to people that were sick.  At the end of her life she wore her daughters out having them get gifts for someone she thought needed cheering.

Billie Lou generously wrote many letters, letters to cheer, to encourage, to teach, to remind them they were valued and loved. Some messages she would send by smoke signal, as the letters read.

Quick to see the humor in any situation you would find Billie Lou laughing or enjoying retelling a funny happening or one of Ed’s many accidents.  She lived through the Great Depression and some very hard years, yet her joy for life overrode the dark hours.

Proud to live in “the greatest country in the world” she read volumes of American history, biographies of patriots, inventors, statesmen and heroes.  She wanted everyone to stand up for the freedoms this country was founded on.

Billie Lou loved a celebration and was always looking for a reason to get together and have a good time.

Her rock-solid beliefs came from a firm faith in her God.  The picture windows in her home looked out to the hills and we can hear her say Psalm 121“I will lift up my eyes to the hills:From whence cometh my help?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Billie Lou leaves behind her daughter, Peggy (Earnest) Bergsagel, daughter, Susan (RT) Snyder, son-in-law, Erik Engebretson;grandchildren, Kristen Engebretson, Peter (Denny Medina-Samot), Liz Engebretson (Stephen Paxon), Watson Snyder; bonus grandchildren, Bre (Dustin) Lobdell, Andy Snyder, Aisha (Kyle) Jannusch; great-granddaughter, Ayla Engebretson; bonus great-grandchildren, Audrey, Kolman, Sloane, Xander, TatumPaul Moore, the son she never hadlifelong friends, Charlotte Corbeill and Phyllis Worrall; and numerous nieces and nephews.  

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ed Arnott; parents,William and Lucy Barnard; brother, Gene Barnard;sister,Virginia Koss; and daughter, Jeanne Engebretson.

Memorials may be sent to Judith Basin 4-H, Utica Women’s Club or the charity of your choice.

A Funeral Service will be held Thursday, June 8, 2023, 2:00 p.m. at the Hobson Methodist Church.  Interment will be at the Utica Cemetery with a reception to follow at the Utica Hall.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home.  Billie Lou’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at