Leon "Bud" Russell Anderson April 1926 – March 26, 2022

Swan Song

SEELEY LAKE - Leon Russell Anderson, known as "Bud", was born on a ranch south of Havre with his midwife grandmother in attendance in April 1926. Bud was the second eldest of nine children born to William H. and Dorothy T. Anderson. He passed away peacefully at his home in Seeley Lake, Montana on March 26 at the age of 95.

Fuel for the home in Havre was scarce during The Great Depression. Bud told a story about him and his sister Georgena taking a big tub out on the prairie to gather buffalo chips to use for fuel. He recalled a time during a blizzard when he had to tie a rope from the house to the barn because he couldn't see 100 feet in front of him and when he was about five years old, his grandmother taking him to a sun dance ceremony.

Eventually, the family moved from Havre in about 1936 to occupy a homestead up Fawn Creek in the Seeley Lake area. He shared many memories of his time there, how the family endured hard times; the chimney fire that resulted in the total loss of the house. He also recalls in 1937 seeing –56 °F.

Bud had a secret hiding place he carved into the base of a very large old Tamarack tree to hide his blasting caps, TNT and Bull Durham tobacco. He told of a time he used a little too much TNT to blow a beaver dam, not realizing placing TNT under water would increase its power. He also shared how he and his siblings went to school on a sled pulled by one of their horses.

Bud moved to Missoula with his eldest sister to attend Missoula High School. As a freshman, he had several jobs he would do every morning and then come home to study before going to school. He would set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. to meet the train by 5 to get the newspapers from Spokane so he could deliver them. Every morning he tended the furnace at the local theatre and added coal to the furnace where he lived, started the coffee and made the pancake batter for the Town Talk Café in Missoula.

When the local pharmacist had work for him, he would deliver prescriptions and earn $0.10 for each one delivered. Bud set pins at the bowling alley, 100 pins to a line, and was paid $0.02 cents a line.

He finally made enough money to buy a bicycle so he could do his paper route. He did ranch work and rode fence for local ranchers. He was employed as a bag boy at Stop-N-Shop in Missoula, before and after the war, working his way up to manager and retaining that position for a decade. Bud wanted to attend school to become an engineer. However, due to the returning veterans, the schools were full and so was available housing, so he decided to stay with the grocery business.

Upon his return to Stop-N-Shop, he met and married Fay Petersen. They had three children together. When the girls were little, they moved to California. There Bud worked at several grocery stores as the manager.

Later divorced, he married Geraldine Lafo shortly thereafter in 1971. During this time, he earned his real estate license. After his daughters graduated high school, Bud and Geraldine bought the Seeley Lake Mercantile and moved back to Montana. When they sold the mercantile, he purchased The Ice Cream Place, and I quote, "to give Geri something to do."

Bud was employed as a manager for the Seeley Water District and later was a member of the Seeley Lake Real Estate Investors implementing different building projects. His passion was drafting up a design and building it. Early in his building career he drafted and built the first Medallion (all-electric) home in Missoula. He always enjoyed an adventure on horseback, a good game of golf, snowmachine and river raft trips with his buddies, playing pool, playing cards and making his famous bleu cheese dressing.

As a veteran, Bud didn't speak of the war much until later in his life. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17 then off to boot camp after graduation at age 18. He attended gunnery school, then was assigned sea duty aboard the USS Douglas H Fox destroyer. He served as mid-ship speaker, gun captain on the Quad 40 (a 40mm machine gun with four guns on the mount), and as the VERY important barber when needed. Bud would say, "barbers were scarce."

Armed with depth charges, torpedoes and firepower, the USS Douglas H Fox was dispatched to Okinawa and assigned picket and escort duties. During picket duty in the RPN segment, (Roger Peter Nine was the designation of the segment), the ship was attacked by three kamikazes which nearly cut the ship in half. They were able to limp into Okinawa where an expansion plate was welded to the broken ship to hold it together until it could be repaired. Before repairs were complete, the war had ended.

During his tour, Bud carried his cribbage board with him and essentially taught cribbage to many of his mates who in turn had acquired cribbage boards of their own by the time they left the ship in 1945.

Bud was an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, an active member of the Lions Club, and was honored by the local Historical Society as a "Seeley Lake Longtimer." He was most comfortable in the mountain areas of Montana and was a mountain man in the true sense.

In his younger years, he worked as a guide for his friend George Moore in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness areas. His knowledge of the mountains was extensive. It was high up in those mountains from Moore's camp where he acquired his record mountain goat.

Whether guiding or not, he made over 100 trips into the wilderness areas during his lifetime. He had a great appreciation for the land and the animals. Bud wanted people to see the country and felt it was best seen on horseback. Over the years he organized and led many pack trips for friends and family into those wilderness areas, sharing his knowledge along the way.

Two of Bud's favorite horses Cher Bob and Little Bit made many trips with him. After one particular pack trip, Joe asked Bud what motivates him to return to the wilderness areas year after year. He spoke of the feeling that during the ride, we "kind of drift along and enjoy life a bit" with the "peace and quiet of no radio, TV or telephone".

Bud was preceded in death by his beloved kitty Brucie who was forever by his side; his parents Dorothy and William Anderson; his first and second wives Fay and Geraldine; sisters Dorothy Wilcox, Lorena Formo; brother Robert Anderson and a half-brother Carey Snyder.

He is survived by: his girlfriend Catherine Lev of Coldspring, Texas; sisters Georgena King of Pasadena, California, Helen Ghillany of Tacoma, Washington and Delia Sharon Magee (Merle) of Cut Bank, Montana; brothers Lawrence Anderson of Ronan, Montana and Darold Anderson of Florence, Montana; three daughters Vanessa Garben (John) of Fairbanks, Alaska, Audrey Sesma (Darcy) of Poway, California and LaVonne McComb (Rick) of Florence, Montana; three stepchildren Leslie Berkey (Gary) of Seeley Lake, Alan Lafo (Susan) of Buckeye, Arizona and Joseph Lafo (Rachael) of Portland, Oregon; 17 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.


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