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Obituary: Lawrence Orville Artz

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Posted at 1:44 PM, Apr 24, 2024

Lawrence Orville Artz, 98, passed peacefully on April 20, 2024 with Audrey, his loving wife of 70 years, by his side. Lawrence was born on February 3, 1926 to William and Christine Artz in Maudlin, MT. He was raised on a farm near Sheffield north of Rosebud, MT. Lawrence was the 6th of 12 children and went to school through the 8th grade at a schoolhouse three miles from home. Most days the kids would walk to school but on the occasion of bad weather, their dad would hook up the team and take them to school. These early years of farm life ingrained an unwavering work ethic and humble lifestyle that would define Lawrence his entire life.

In 1951, Lawrence’s work in the oil fields led him to cross paths with Audrey Griffin where she was working in a cafe in Tioga, ND. This chance meeting would lead to a devoted marriage that would span seven decades of this beautiful life. It was also during this time that Lawrence earned his pilot’s license. He logged his first official hours in a plane in 1953. November 1953 brought the blessing of the couple’s first child, Jackie. The family moved to Denver, CO shortly thereafter, where Lawrence sold Encyclopedias to support the household. In 1955, when their time in Denver was up they moved to Angela, MT where Lawrence worked on his uncle Phil Artz’ ranch for a couple of years. In 1957 the family moved down the road to Miles City where Lawrence worked for Murphy Trucking. Danny was born in Miles City in August 1957. As the family continued to grow, Lawrence and Audrey moved to the Art Schiffer ranch in Jordan and began leasing the place in 1959. Kendall joined the family in August 1959 and Leslie in September 1960. Their family was finally complete.

Artz Spray Service was born in 1959. Lawrence often joked that he became a crop-duster so he could afford to be a rancher. He valued his customers and did all he could to ensure that their farming endeavors were successful. When his spray schedule allowed he also drove truck for Hunter Trucking. Some of the last stories he told were of his interstate trucking trips. They always provided everyone with a laugh. Lawrence will be remembered for spinning quite a tale and delivering the punch line every time.

Mid-1975 saw the family move from the ranch to the “house on the hill” in Jordan. Lawrence and Audrey worked so hard to build a beautiful home no matter where they lived. This home, in particular, was known for its beautiful tree rows, immaculate green lawn, its amazing Christmas decorations and, eventually, Grandpa’s own private driving range. It was where all the grandkids swung their first golf club and spent hours picking up balls. We were always amazed by how far he could hit the ball and he would just chuckle. This is also the place where he would make the grandkids' day by buzzing the house or by “waving” with his wings on his way home from a long day of spraying. We can only imagine how big his smile was when he was doing those things. He was always up for a laugh and he had the best smile.

In 1992, the warm weather began to call. Lawrence and Audrey headed south to Arizona for a few months each year. They would always return early so he could spray for his loyal customers. In 1996, he officially hung up his wings and retired from spraying. He flew his spray plane for 43 years and never had an accident. He logged 18,000 hours of flying.

Lawrence wasn’t one to sit still for long. While in “retirement” he did some trucking and he helped many area farmers and ranchers with their work. He also found his new passion, golf. He spent much of his time hitting area courses with his golfing crew from Jordan. He always kept score and was fiercely competitive with himself and anyone else that wanted to play. He pioneered “cow pasture golf” in Garfield County, which is still a great tradition to this day. His pinnacle golf moment was hitting a hole-in-one at Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman, MT, in 2004. Golf was a part of his life for over 30 years with his last game being played in the fall of 2023 at the youthful age of 97, still hitting them straight as an arrow.

2010 brought a big move to Belgrade, MT, where Lawrence would finish out his years. This move brought them closer to their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Lawrence was an avid fan of anything the kids were doing and he always wanted a detailed report if he couldn’t attend. He enjoyed many concerts, rodeos, and basketball games. Lawrence also enjoyed working in the yard, bowling, reading, working puzzles, throwing washers, playing cards, and mastering the dice in a good game of Yahtzee. He was a competitor to his core, a trait he has passed on to his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. He was actively engaged in everything life had to offer and was especially proud that he and Audrey were honored as the longest-married couple at their granddaughter’s wedding last spring, still dancing beautifully together after all these years.

Lawrence is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Audrey; his children, Jackie Currey, Dan and Terey Artz, Kendall and Colene Artz, and Leslie and Randy Willis; his grandchildren, Nicky and Derek Swenson, Tracey and Andy Bolich, Casey and Suzanne Currey, Alona Reagan Artz, Jamie and Jeremy Boulter, Jack Willis and Gracie Stadt, and Jessie Willis; his great-grandchildren, Ashlyn and Dylan Swenson, Blaise, Brooks, and Bentz Bolich, Cord and Ruby Currey, Colton Stewart, Theo Willis and Riley Boulter; and his sisters, Norma Glock and Esther Holubiczko. He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Christine Artz, and his siblings, Alice, Laura, Margaret, Dorothy, Robert, Mable, Gladys, Charles, and Donnie.

“Wherever a beautiful soul has lived is a trail of beautiful memories.”

Grandpa, while a hard-working man and a fierce competitor, was the most patient, kind, funny, noble, loving person we have ever known. His smile lit up a room. May we continue to carry out his legacy with this in mind. Our hearts hurt but we are beyond blessed to be a part of his story and it is now our job to continue to write it until we meet again.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate Lawrence’s life at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, April 26 at Peace Lutheran Church in Belgrade, MT, with a luncheon to follow. The family requests that all guests wear bright colored clothing. A private burial will follow at Meadowview Cemetery in Manhattan, MT. The service may be viewed live at: peace2you.org/worship/sermons/

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Garfield County Health Center in Jordan (gchealth.net), VFW Post #7886 (PO Box 243, Jordan, MT 59337), Gallatin County Food Bank (gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org), or Family Promise of Gallatin Valley (familypromisegv.org).

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com