January 5, 1930 - June 21, 2021
September 8, 2021
Jay Frank Huller, known to all as Frank, entered the world as a preemie on January 5th, 1930 across the Jefferson River from Willow Creek, Montana. After a brief warm up in the wood stove he took off on a lifetime of great health and adventure.
Frank grew up ranching with his father and attended school in Willow Creek through his graduation in 1948. He attended Montana State University (MSU) and joined Air Force ROTC and earned a Bachelors degree in Agriculture and Animal Industries. During college he continued to ranch for his father, took a job irrigating the University farms and became involved in competitive sheep shearing. Upon graduation in 1952 Uncle Sam was waiting with open arms. Frank spent two years in the Air Force in Radar Photo Intelligence and as a Teacher/Trainer in the Strategic Air Command. In his spare time he made extra pocket money beating his Air Force buddies at poker and cribbage.
As he returned to Willow Creek and ranching, Frank met Ann Logan who was hitchhiking across the country with a college friend and had stopped off in Bozeman. They were married and moved into the dirt floor log cabin, without indoor plumbing or electricity, that had been his grandparents' homestead. After having 3 children in 2 ½ years Frank and Ann both decided to return to school at MSU and pursue careers in education. Frank earned his Masters of Education in Counseling and Guidance and spent three years in Cut Bank as science teacher, guidance counselor and coach. He then accepted a position from the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council as Administrator to start a Head Start program on the reservation. He transitioned the next year to start a Neighborhood Youth Corps program and spent almost eight years administrating and expanding the youth and adult work-training program while the family lived in Busby and then along Rosebud Creek. In 1973 he accepted the position of Superintendent of St. Labre Indian School and moved the family to Ashland.
In 1976 Frank decided to return to ranching and farming and moved to Bridger where he spent the next 45 years. He was an active member of the community, serving on the school board, as an officer on the ditch board, and as a substitute teacher, bus driver and coach. He worked for 14 years for the US Soil Conservation Service at the Bridger Plant Materials Center in addition to his ranching.
Frank was blessed with three strong and happy marriages. He lost Ann to cancer after more than 30 years of marriage. He then married Alice Snodgrass, a long-time family friend and fellow educator, and welcomed her adult children to the family as well. After Alice lost her struggle with multiple illnesses, Frank fell in love with and married Jean Hodges. She was a blessing and a light in his life and he loved travelling the country with her. Her four children and many grand- and great-grand-children were added to the expanding family that delighted him.
Frank connected with people everywhere he went, friends and strangers alike. He made friends with farmers and ranchers from Australia to Hawaii and had a special appreciation for educators of all sorts. He was a lifelong learner, teacher, and coach to his students, family and friends.
A proud Montana native, Frank loved everything about the outdoors: hunting and fishing, backpacking and camping, geology and rockhounding. It would give him great pleasure to walk up to a fishing hole abandoned by a disappointed fisherman, cast his fly, and pull out three nice rainbow trout. Then, when asked his secret, he would share his techniques and even tie the man a fly. Yellowstone Park was always his favorite playground and his bucket list consisted mostly of visiting National and State Parks, nature and historic sites, and his own favorite scenic wonders. He could spot an elk by a stream or a bear in the trees like nobody else.
Frank loved a good story and had many to share, from tales of cowboying in the old west or a peace pipe ceremony with his Northern Cheyenne friends to the practical jokes with coworkers and the scrapes he'd gotten himself into over the years. And everyone always has a favorite tale to tell on him. We can't think of a more fitting description of Frank's zeal for life than the quote: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and a margarita in the other, body thoroughly worn out and yelling 'WooHoo, what a ride!'" (Author unknown and edited for Frank)
Frank passed away on June 21st, 2021. He is survived by his wife Jean Hodges, his sons Greg (Laura) of Summerville, SC, and Mark (Teresa) of Bridger, his daughter Cheryl (Mark) Bither of Garden Ridge, TX, stepsons Byron Snodgrass of Billings, Kim (Shelby) Hodges of Windsor, CO, Kip (Gail) Hodges of Bridger, Kirk Hodges of Billings, stepdaughter Kay (Tom) Wallin of Renton, WA, his beloved grandchildren Kim, Tina, Jay, Michael, Mary, Patrick, Shane, Corey and Mathew, and the many step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren that blessed his life. He is preceded in death by his first wife Ann, his second wife Alice, and step-daughter Audrey Snodgrass.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank's name will be welcomed by the Bridger Ambulance Service. Please mail checks to Clark's Fork Valley Ambulance Service, P.O. Box 94, Bridger, MT 59014.