- About Us
Howard C. Largent, the Legend of Sun River Valley, Hell of a Hand, the king of wheeling and dealing, bartering and bantering, a gifted storyteller and b.s.’r, a hard ass but with the softest soul, proudly joined other legends in heaven on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at the young age of 92, after a stubborn battle with cancer. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, November 10, at 10:00 a.m. in the Rose Room Chapel at Croxford Funeral Home. Burial with full Military Honors will follow at Sun River Cemetery at 11:30.
Howard was a third generation Montanan born in Great Falls to Cyrus and Anna Largent. He was raised in Ulm with siblings Marvine, Arleen and Russel. He learned the value of hard work, acquiring skills of blacksmithing, farrier and cowboying at a young age. Howard attended schools in Ulm and Cascade completing the 10th grade. At the age of 15 he went to work for Pat Stanley as a farm and cow hand. Pat became a lifelong mentor and friend.
At age 17 Howard enlisted in the Marine Corp. He was a part of Division 6, which according to Wikipedia, was the only Marine division to be formed and disbanded overseas, never to set foot in the United States again. The casualties were great. Howard survived, only to watch his friends and fellow Marines be blown apart, killed, or severely injured. The survivors were later invited a board the USS Missouri to witness the signing of the Instruments of Peace on September 2, 1945.
Howard never spoke of the horrors he experienced during that terrible war until he was invited on the Honor Flight in 2013; a ceremony where he was honored in Washington, D.C, along with fellow World War II veterans. He was accompanied on this epic journey by his daughter Marlene, who helped to make that trip a trip of a lifetime. Howard, being a true Montana cowboy, was the only attendee that day to wear a cowboy hat. And it was Senator Max Baucus’s understanding of Howard’s sacrificial service for his country that truly impressed Howard, leaving him feeling truly appreciated and deserving of such an honor.
After the war, Howard went to work for Dana and Charlie Hotson Ranches in Cascade, MT. Those years proved to be some of the best memories he had; as he did what he loved, wrangling and breaking horses, and moving cattle, all in the great Montana outdoors. He also enjoyed a night on the town with a hankering for whiskey and a good bar fight. He was one tough cowboy. And yet he still enjoyed babysitting the boss’s children.
In 1950, Howard started his career in construction. While working in Conrad, MT in 1952, he encountered a gorgeous woman riding a beautiful Apaloosa horse during the Whoop-Up Parade. Howard quickly pursued this woman, Jean Speer, until they were married on April 11, 1953. The happy young couple settled in Ulm, MT and started their family with their first daughter Carol, and then Sharon, just 10 months later. In 1956, Howard went to work for the Cascade County Road Department, in the Sun River shop. Howard took his job with the county very serious. He was never late and rarely called in sick. Just two years later brought another move to a farm on the Fairfield Bench where Howard farmed and raised livestock while continuing to work for Cascade County. And his growing family was completed with the addition of their son Jimmy and daughter Marlene.
Along Howards working career, something he specialized in was the repair and installation of Shallow Well Pumps, which he continued to work with well into his 90s. He also built fences, did welding, and always stacked the most perfect bales of hay. Thanks to the help of his daughters Carol and Sharon, Howard also excelled at corrective horse shoeing. He shoed his last horse at the young age of 67. In the areas of livestock, Howard was the “official” calf castrator at the local brandings. He also worked for Cascade Road Department from 1956-1981.
Howard also had a passion for baking delicious pies, banana bread, and for making sausage, which he cleverly renamed “mystery meat.” In addition to his cooking and baking skills, Howard was obsessed with making wine; LOTS of different wines. Visitors to the ranch were offered samples and few visitors left a little tipsy. Howard’s great-granddaughter McKayla always loved her visits to the ranch as grandpa Howard was always so educating in the art of wine making.
Winters on the ranch were severe with many snow drifts and impassable roads which forced Howard to saddle up his Buckskin and ride six miles to work so he could crank up the road grader. It was Howard’s responsibility to keep the county roads plowed for school buses and emergency vehicles.
In 1964, Montana encountered severe flooding, especially in the Sun River Valley. Howard was appointed Foreman and worked relentlessly for 48 hours without sleep to aid farmers and livestock.
One last move took place in 1965, taking the Largent family to their final homestead in Simms, MT, where once again, Howard continued his career with the county from the Simms shop.
Howard was very proud of his children’s accomplishments. Growing up, they received strict discipline and developed incredible work ethics. Carol and Marlene grew up to become licensed RN’s. Jimmy earned a degree in Accounting and then later transitioned into breeding and raising Boer goats. And Sharon developed expert skills in cooking, gardening, and sewing. Howard never showered them with hugs or praises, but they all knew he was so very proud of them.
Howard finally retired from the County in 1981. He spent the next few years staying active by fixing pumps, horse trading, and raising livestock which was primarily sheep. He enjoyed going to auctions, garage sales and secondhand stores searching for a great bargain or to do some bartering. Until his recent illness, Howard was always tinkering and had numerous unfinished projects. And while still able to drive his 4wheeler, became known for his speeding through Simms, with “Puppy” and his walker carefully tucked on top.
The Largent family grew exponentially with the marriages of Carol and Glenn Graves, as well as with Sharon and Ed Wheeler. Carol and Sharon blessed Howard with five grandchildren and two step-granddaughters, Jennifer, Nicole, and Christopher Graves. Derek Ashle Laura and Patti Wheeler, Howard adored his grandchildren. He enjoyed giving them $2 dollar bills, rides on the tractor and involved them in his shenanigans. Howard and Derek developed a life long special relationship. Derek became Howard’s constant companion and best friend. Howard absolutely adored Derek’s wife Amanda with whom he developed a special loving bond.
Grandpa Howard spent a lot of time with Emmet and Briley. When Emmet was just five years of age, Howard would challenge each other to 4-wheeler races. Briley was Howard’s pride and joy. At just four years of age, she adored her grandpa Howard and loved to sit and sing songs to him. It was Briley’s sweet angelic singing that Howard heard as he took his final breath.
Marlene’s excellent nursing assessment skills are what gave Howard a longer and healthier quality of living. Marlene saw him through a high cervical neck fracture and a recent colon cancer. She remained devoted and firmly planted at his bedside along with Derek, as he took his last breath.
Howard is survived in passing by his beautiful wife of 65 wonderful years, Jean Largent; children, Carol, Sharon (Ed), Jim, and Marlene; grandchildren, including step-grandchildren, Jennifer, Nicole, and Christopher Graves, Derek, Ashle, Laura, and Patti Wheeler; 12 great-grandchildren, Emmet and Briley (Derek), McKayla, Cyrus, Matthew (Nicole), Alexis, Katie, Georgia, Owen, Sage (Ashle), Addison, Sierra-(Christopher); nieces, Barbara Huggins, Cheryl Bremer; step nephew, Robyn Largent, and many devoted friends, Wayne, Luke, Rob, Kevin, Fred, Bruce, Larry, and many-many more…you know who you are!
Those who have preceded him in death include his parents, his siblings and his son-in-law, Dr. Glenn M. Graves.
Howard would appreciate it if you all would do something unexpected with an act of kindness in his name and celebrate with a toast of his favorite whiskey, Crown Royal.
Howard: “The neighbor we all love to hate, my friend.”