Vaughn Daniel Lincoln Dutro, 90, died peacefully Sunday, Oct. 8, at his home with his loving wife of 66 years, Berniece at his side.
Visitations will be Thursday and Friday at the Pondera Funeral Home. A memorial vigil service will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the funeral home. Mass of the Resurrection will be Saturday, Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. at St. Michael’s Catholic Church with burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Conrad with military honors.
Vaughn Daniel Lincoln Dutro was born in Dodson, Mont., on Feb. 12, 1916 to Anna and David Dutro. He later moved to Malta and attended schools there. While in high school, he worked at the Malta Mercantile, a John Deere store.
He joined the CCCs and worked at St. Regis in a ranger lookout. He rode the rails back to Malta in time for graduation in 1936. After graduation, he worked on the construction of the Fort Peck Dam.
He moved to Great Falls, where he attended Great Falls Commercial College while working for the George G. Mill Co., a John Deere franchise. He arrived in Conrad on June 7, 1937 to set up the books and parts department at the request of Tom Noble, manager of the newly-established John Deere and Caterpillar dealership.
He married Berniece Paulus of Choteau in Great Falls on Dec. 30, 1940.
Vaughn enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1945 and was honorably discharged in 1946 after the unexpected death of his father, David Dutro of Portland, Ore.
Dutro returned to Conrad and became general manager of the Conrad Implement Co. and then became owner in 1962. In the mid-sixties he became part owner/manager of the Great Falls Implement Co., continuing for several years.
Dutro brought his son, Don into the Conrad Imp as assistant manager in 1979 and acquired E.P. Ekegren Co of Choteau in 1991. Vaughn sold his interest in the John Deere franchise in Conrad and Choteau in 1996 and continued to operate the Conrad Implement Co. selling livestock equipment until his death.
Vaughn was very active in community and ag-related organizations. He was a long-time devoted Conrad Volunteer Fireman, became the first president of the Conrad Jaycees, was a member of the Conrad School Board from 1954-56, became president of St. Mary’s Hospital Advisory Board in 1957 and saw construction of the Pondera Medical Center in 1970.
He served as president of PMC from 1977-1983, and was a member of the Conrad Library Board from 1959-61. Together with Mayor R.G. Arnot, they organized and he became the first president of the Conrad Chamber of Commerce in 1965.
After serving several years on the board of the Montana Hardware Implement Association, Dutro was elected its president in 1975. In 1976 he was elected to the board of directors of the National Farm Power & Equipment Association for Montana until 1990. He was a member of the Agricultural Council of America, the American Legion, Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Health Service Association, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, (president in 1959), Pondera Golf Club and was on the advisory board of the Helena Vo-Tech School from 1972-1983. He was a lifetime member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
In addition to countless hours of time and energy devoted to all of the above, Vaughn’s main focus was his family, the Conrad Imp, his employees, many loyal customers, and his beloved Conrad.
He enjoyed hunting, fishing, golf, Rving with Berniece and friends. They loved spending time at their cabin near Spotted Bear behind Hungry Horse Dam. One of his hunting highlights was bagging a large bull moose in the Bob Marshal. Vaughn and Berniece enjoyed many trips in the U.S. and abroad with John Deere and the Hardware Implement and National Associations.
Dutro was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, his family, and Catholic faith. He truly loved Montana and was a learned historian of its history. His humor and quick wit will be fondly remembered. “Doot” leaves an enormous void within his family and friends.
Vaughn is survived by his wife, Berniece, daughters, Margaret Ann Lee of Missoula, Jeanne Ritchie (David) of El Cajon, Calif., Terry Dutro of Bozeman and son, Don (Mary) of Great Falls. In addition, he is survived by sister-in-law Aina Dutro of Kalispell, cousin, Eileen Scafidi of Portland, and cousin Hugh (Eileen) Smith of Belfast, Ireland.
Grandchildren include Jack Lee (Jennie) of Klamath Falls, Ore.; Vickie Vaughan Lopes, Concord, Calif.; Katie Missik, Conrad; Tricia Stokes (Joel), Valier; Michael Lee (Kendra) Great Falls; Stephanie Hansen (Eric), Thornton, Colo.; Heather Prevost, (fiancé Steve Thurston), San Diego, Calif.; Nicholas, Brian and Meghan Knobel, Bozeman; Hanna and Sarah Vaughan Dutro, Great Falls and 10 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Vaughn’s honor to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Conrad Dollars for Scholars or Pondera Golf Club.
“May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back.”