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Leroy Paul Flesch of Conrad, MT passed away at his home on October 29, 2018 at age 76. Leroy was born in Shelby on April 10, 1942 to Edward and Hazel (Jummer) Flesch, early-day homesteaders north of Shelby. Leroy was the youngest of nine children.
Leroy’s early years were spent on the Flesch homestead north of Shelby. Ed, Hazel and Leroy later moved to Shelby. Leroy’s dad passed away when Leroy was eight, so his life was shaped at a young age. He was raised by his mother’s hard work and sacrifice; he was always very devoted to his mother. Leroy attended St. Williams parochial school through 8th grade and was an altar boy; he graduated from Shelby High School in 1960. In 1959 his Mother purchased the Bill Flesch farm north of Shelby where they resided for several years.
Leroy married Bonnie McKechnie of Dunkirk on February 13, 1961, and to this union three children were born: Gary, Lisa and Lea. Leroy farmed for several years, along with working for his brother Vernon learning furniture refinishing. In the 1970s - 80s he and Bonnie successfully owned and operated many businesses: the roller skating rink in Shelby; the Town & Country Market in Sunburst; a cattle ranch north of Browning; a ranch near Kevin, along with the purchase of his Mother’s farm. Heart problems necessitated moving from the ranch to Shelby where he and Bonnie purchased the Sports Club. They lived in Great Falls for two years, then resided in Helena for 18 years. In 2006 they moved to the Conrad/Brady area to be closer to Bonnie’s 96-year-old Mother and to care for her uncle who was battling cancer.
Leroy was a devout Catholic and his faith sustained him through many difficult times and health issues. He was a faithful worshiper at St. Michael’s in Conrad and loved time with his church family; he also enjoyed coffee hours with Bonnie’s Presbyterian family. Leroy faithfully read his prayer book and prayed for his family each day. During his second by-pass surgery, the doctors were unable to restart his heart and we lost him; several minutes later his heart responded. When he awoke hours later, he related that he had been to the warm brilliant light with Jesus’ loving presence; from that time on, he was not afraid of death.
Leroy was an avid duplicate bridge player for many years and attained the goal of Gold Life Master; for many years he was considered one of the best duplicate bridge players in Montana and played in many national tournaments. Leroy was with his Mother during her last eight months until she passed away in 1988. Leroy was also very devoted to his father- and mother-in-law. He and Bonnie stayed at her parents home in Dunkirk during Jim’s last months; Leroy’s assistance with Jim’s personal care allowed Jim to spend his last few months at home where Jim could be near his beloved Herefords. He respected and dearly loved his mother-in-law, Ruth, and assisted Bonnie so Ruth was also able to pass away in her home at age 100.
In July Leroy suffered a stroke which exacerbated his pre-existing dementia. Bonnie will be forever grateful to Lisa, Lea, and Amanda for their assistance in allowing Leroy to spend his last months at home, surrounded by love.
Leroy is survived by his adoring wife of 57 years, Bonnie; devoted children and beloved grandchildren: Gary (Lois) Flesch of Helena [Chris and Tess Rognrud]; Lisa (Alan) Snell of Helena [Amanda (Trevor) Sieler and Adam Snell]; and Lea (Jay) Peterson of Alder [Meaghan Peterson and Paul Peterson]; as well as many dear nieces and nephews.
Leroy was preceded in death by all his siblings: Lawrence, Leo, Lyle, Esther Erickson, Joe, Vernon, Elaine Zell, and an infant brother.
A brilliant mind and a broken heart are now at rest; he is Home.
Funeral mass will be held Monday, November 5, at 11:00 AM at St. Michaels Catholic Church. Visitation will be Sunday from 3 to 5pm at Pondera Funeral Home.