My dad passed away in the early morning of Thursday, October 30, 2014 after several years of illness. When the time came to publish an obituary, we discovered that, to say everything we wanted to say, it was going to cost quite a bit. Enough that my dad would likely have accused us of being stupid if we’d done it and he found out about it. So as a family we decided to publish something short via the newspaper, then link back to this page, which is the original obituary I wrote with input from my mom and sisters. If you knew my dad, feel free to leave something in the comments section if you wish. Thanks from all of us. . . .
HUSON — Sidney Robert La Tray, 73, passed away in his sleep at his home in Six Mile the morning of Thursday, October 30th. He was born in Lewistown, MT, on November 10, 1940, to Leo Stanley La Tray (12/25/1913 – 10/02/1996) and Ruby Katherine (Doney) La Tray (12/13/1917 – 04/23/2011). As a child he lived in the towns of Lewistown, Anaconda, and Hamilton, MT.
A veteran of the United States Navy, Sid enlisted on February 13, 1958. He was a Diesel Engine Inspector aboard the USS Acme (MSO-508), a minesweeper ship tasked with removing mines installed in the Pacific Ocean to prevent the safe passage of ships. The ship was active in the Far East and Pacific Coast. Sid received his Honorable Discharge on February 18, 1962. He always spoke favorably of his time in the service, whether telling stories of the islands he visited or the discipline the Navy taught him for taking on the world once he left.
Sid married Elizabeth Sue “Becky” Pulliam on June 29, 1964 in Missoula. They had three children together, daughters Nikki and Mitzi and a son, Chris. The family spent their early years in Missoula, then moved to Huson in 1971, to Frenchtown in 1972, and finally to their current home up Six Mile in 1978.
In November, 1966 Sid began working for the Hoerner Waldorf Corporation at its paper mill in Frenchtown. For the next 40-plus years he outlasted additional owners Champion, Stone Container, and finally Smurfit-Stone, who closed the mill on December 31, 2009, forcing his retirement.
When Sid left the Navy, married, and began working at the mill his family became his life. Very much a homebody, he didn’t travel beyond the northwest, though he loved to go on drives all over Western Montana, Idaho, and Washington. He enjoyed helping raise a menagerie of 4-H animals when the kids were home, horses, cows, and goats at other periods, and always a motley bunch of pet dogs and cats. An endless stream of tinkering projects on various cars, trucks, and tractors kept him out in his garage as often as not, between stretches of nap-like “planning sessions.” To anyone driving one of his vehicles (many over the years, some of which even left the driveway once they expired) or spending time in his company anywhere near Missoula, it seemed everyone recognized or knew him.
The family particularly remembers Sid for his humor, his gruff willingness to come to the rescue, and his “suffer no fools” approach to life. He could always be counted on when the chips were down, even if those chips were the detritus of one’s own actions. There were many catchphrases he used over and over in his life, but for us left behind, if we were to vote on a single one to be etched into stone as an epitaph, it would certainly read, “You Be Goddamn Careful.”
Preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Sharon Crateao (Old Town, ID), Sid is survived by brother Leo Gilbert La Tray (Plains, MT).
Sid’s wife of 50 years, Becky La Tray, remains at their home in Huson. Also surviving are daughters Nikki La Tray (Davenport, IA) and Mitzi Lockwood (Huson, MT, with James Whitcomb), and son Chris La Tray (Missoula, MT, with wife Julia La Tray). Iowa grandchildren include Justin and Quenton Schutter (with wives Ally and Kaylene), and great-grandchildren Elizabeth Schutter and Gage Schutter. Montana grandchildren include Remington Lockwood and Sidney Robert La Tray II (and his mother, Laurel Lee La Tray) currently in Missoula and Mariah Lockwood (Fairbanks, AK).
The family will hold a private memorial. Additional memorials are suggested to AniMeals.