Donald Michael Koenig finished his earthly chores and went home on Oct. 16. A farmer southwest of Conrad, he raised wheat, barley and five children.
A Funeral Mass was held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church on Oct. 21. He will be buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Pondera Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.misermortuaries.com .
He was born on April 10, 1924 on a farm north of Conrad to Marie and Michael Koenig. He was the second oldest child and first son. When Don was a toddler, his family moved to a new homestead on the other side of town, the farm that remains in the family today.
When the United States joined World War II, Don was given a medical dispensation, so rather than joining the service, he moved to Helena to work on the fighter planes in what was to later become the Helena College of Technology Aviation Mechanic School. He had many colorful stories about working on the planes and living in Helena and while there he developed an interest in flying.
When he returned to Conrad he took flying lessons and worked as a mechanic at Newmans, a well-known Chrysler dealership at that time. It was there that he met Evelyn O’Keefe, who moved from the Collins area to work as the bookkeeper. After pursuing Evelyn for more than two years and multiple proposals of marriage, she finally said yes.
They married on March 19, 1953 and moved to the farm where Don took over the day-to-day operations and worked as a mechanic on the side. Within a year their first child, Jacalyn, was born followed through the years by Patricia, Christine, Michael and Margaret.
Don was devoted to his farm and his family. He gave up flying before ever becoming licensed and channeled his energies into growing things. He was passionate about his garden and his flowers. Family, friends and people driving by the farm marveled at his work. Meanwhile his children groaned as he would spend lunchtimes during the summer telling them where to weed that day in the half-acre garden. When asked once why he didn’t travel more he responded, “Why would I leave when I have everything I’ve ever wanted right here.”
He was an avid fisherman and a multitude of memories were made at Montana lakes with his family. He had many fishing friends through the years but his favorite was his brother, Fr. Bernard Koenig, who passed away in 2008. Together they spent many hours huddled in ice houses staring through the ice watching for fish and calling it fun.
Don farmed full-time until 2007 when he contracted the West Nile virus after being bitten by a mosquito while working in his garden. His health started going downhill that same year.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years Evelyn; daughters Jackie Williams of Helena, Patty (Len) VandenBos of Valier, Chris (Jim) Bjelland of Conrad and Margaret (Christopher) Herriges of Helena; son Michael (Cindy) of Conrad; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren whom he adored; and sisters Bernice Muir of Conrad and Joan (Mike) Keegan of Spokane, Wash.
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Electrical issues for the I-15 Self Storage business of Pat and Meagan Heinen at the new Conrad East Industrial Park that have been tabled at previous meetings were revisited at the Sept. 17 meeting of the city council.
Mayor Wendy Judisch has been communicating with NorthWestern Energy regarding all the electrical at the Park with Heinen’s property being the number one priority.
The city’s and Heinen’s applications have both been turned into NorthWestern Energy. Costs for the installation of the electrical lines will be invoiced from NorthWestern Energy, hopefully at the next council meeting
The North Central Montana Regional Water Authority has presented a contract for consideration regarding the Brady waterline operation and maintenance. The water line and who is responsible for it are being reviewed by Public Works Director Rich Anderson and his crew. Costs for water were also discussed.
By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter
The Russell Building’s conference room was, once again, filled with people at this month’s School Board meeting. Parents, grandparents, and siblings of this month’s outstanding students, who were acknowledged at the meeting, made up a large part of the crowd.
Staff presentations began similarly to last month, with Steve Lockyer presenting exemplary student, Kaylea Killion. Last month Killion was recognized for her work at MedStart summer camp. This month Killion was being recognized as CHS outstanding student. Her plethora of achievements includes Yell Squad president, cheerleading captain, BPA member, Science Club member, senior class president, and she is also running for NHS president.