Harry J. “Gene” Taggart, age 86, passed away peacefully at the RiverStone Hospice House on Tuesday January 8, 2019 after a long-term struggle with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease.
Gene was born to Frances E. (Lacock) and Harry H. Taggart on May 9, 1932 in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. He grew up on the family sheep ranch near Ekalaka, Montana until the death of his mother when he was thirteen. The family then moved to Miles City where he attended High School and in 1950, he joined the United States Navy. He served as a deckhand on the USS LST-1122 during the Korean Conflict. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, The United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Service Ribbon (5 Stars) and was honorably discharged on May 14, 1954.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Gene returned to Miles City and married the love of his life Sally Joan Peterson on Oct.18, 1955. Together they had three children. A daughter, Sybil, and two sons, Mitchell and Timothy.
Gene attended Central Bible Institute in Springfield Missouri for a year and then returned to Miles City where he worked for Phillips 66 service station. Gene later went to work for Regal Sign Company where he apprenticed to become a journeyman sign electrician. Throughout his career as a sign electrician, Gene worked for several different sign companies installing and servicing neon signs. He worked in: Casper, Wyoming; Billings, Missoula, Portland, Oregon and Lewiston, ID/Clarkston, WA. Upon retirement Gene made his way back to Montana residing in the Bitteroot Valley, Hot Springs, and most recently Columbus.
Gene’s first wife Sally died of cancer in 1976 and Gene remarried on March 6, 1977 to Beverly (Benninghoven) Larson adding a daughter, Deone to the family. Gene’s retirement years were spent with Beverly his love and companion of 41 years raising and showing horses and enjoying the outdoors and mountain recreation of western Montana.
Gene was a wise man of faith who loved God, his country, his family and the great outdoors. He loved camping, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, boating and four-wheeling in the mountains. He was a jack-of-all trades with a delightful sense of humor and an irresistible smile. He was loved deeply by family and friends.
Gene is preceded in death by his mother Frances (Lacock) Taggart, his first wife Sally Joan (Peterson) Taggart, his father Harry H.Taggart, his stepmother Mary Victoria (Stuart) Brakke Taggart, his stepsister Nelsa Brakke and stepbrother Grayson Brakke.
Gene is survived by his wife Beverly of Hot Springs MT, children, Sybil (Tim) Peterson of Columbus MT, Mitchell (Julia) Taggart of Ellendale ND, Timothy (Jodi) Taggart of Bellemont, AZ, stepdaughter Deone Benninghoven of Washington. Three sisters, Roberta (David) Barger of Colorado Springs, CO, Melita Green of Chicago, IL, and Elna (Alan) Tims of St. Cloud, MN. 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and multiple nieces and nephews. He will be missed by his family, many friends and loved ones.
Gene will be honored at a Graveside Service with Military Honors, Custer County Cemetery in Miles City on Friday January 11, 2019 at 11:00am. A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, January 13 at 10:30am at the Columbus Assembly of God Church, 132 N. Pratten. For friends and family in Hot Springs. a Memorial Service will be 2:00pm at the United Lutheran and Presbyterian Church 321 Arlee St., Hot Springs.