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Donald Lee Kirkhart
July 30, 1935 ~ May 1, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old
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Donald Lee Kirkhart Sr., passed away on Monday May 1, 2023, at Steve and Patsy house in Great Falls Montana. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 11AM in Croxford Funeral Home’s Rose Room Chapel.
He was born in Partridge, Kansas on July 30, 1935, to Erma Sparks and Leroy Kirkhart. His parents divorced when he was 2 years old and lived with his grandparents Clifford and Evey Sparks in Hutchinson, Kansas. Hallie (Dude) Uhl married Erma and he petitioned the courts to get him and his sister Betty back. They moved to Hays, Kansas where Dude worked in the oil field as a pumper and his younger sister Barbara was born. Don graduated from Codell High School in 1953, never missing a day of school. After high school he worked in the oilfield on a pulling unit for Bill’s Well Service. He married Patricia L. Conway on August 19, 1956. In May 1957, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in New Jersey where all 4 of their children were born from 1960 to 1964. The Air Force brought the family to the Philippines, then Texas where he became a Dallas Cowboy fan, then California and lastly Minot, North Dakota, where dad decided it was time to stay put so his kids did not have to switch schools as often. He was a flight engineer and an airplane mechanic for 24 years before he retired from the Air Force on September 1st, 1981, as Chief Master Sergeant. He also served in the Vietnam War where he instructed plane repair techniques to the Southern Vietnamese. He traveled around the world 3 times and enjoyed seeing the Taj Mahal in India.
Dad, Mom and Steve ended up moving to Great Falls, Montana where he worked at City Motors, Spartan Trucking and Sports City. In January 1985, Dad and Mom divorced. He met Suzie Doyle on New Years Day 1990, and he married her in 2002. In 1997, he sold his house and bought a fifth wheel camper and started traveling around the U.S. and South for the winters to Yuma, AZ where he had a lot of friends and enjoyed flying RC planes. They had a great adventure traveling to many different places and always came back to Great Falls in the Spring where he loved the mountains and fishing. After Suzie passed away on December 22, 2016, he bought a motorhome and a boat so he could fish Holter Lake.
Don is survived by his children, Donald (Rebekah) Kirkhart, Shelley (Brad) Fimrite, Debra (Tony) Swanson, and Steven (Patsy) Kirkhart; his grandchildren, Sommar Watson, Jamie Wicks, Jorden Kirkhart, Josh Kirkhart, Kristen Cram, Cory Westmoreland, Chris Fimrite, Kelly Fimrite, April Metzger, Joe Swanson, Tony Swanson, Samantha Alspaw, Loryn Kirkhart, Jace Kirkhart and 23 great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents and parents; his sister’s, Betty Benedict and Barbara Beckley; and his wife, Suzie.
Dad was very active his whole life. He enjoyed camping with his family,, teaching them how to water ski, and once made a boat with a friend. He also liked to fish and hunt. I remember going roller skating and ice skating as a family. He was a great mechanic who could fix anything and everything. In 1972, he bought a Volkswagen bug for his family of 6 and us kids loved that car. We learned how to drive the bug and dad was always fixing it when it broke.
Special words of appreciation to Patsy, Samantha, and Steve for taking care of Don in the last 6 months of his life. May God richly bless each of you. I would also like to acknowledge that Don accepted Christ as his savior on March 22, 2023, which we have been praying for so long and very happy that we will see him again.