Robert Wayne Hampton, 94, passed away Sunday, December 1, 2019. He was born in 1925 on the family farm near Rockfield, Kentucky to Georgia Young Hampton and Henry Clay Hampton. Known as Wayne, he was one of eight children, born with the love of farming and well suited for the challenge of raising tobacco, corn, grains and milking dairy cows. During WWII, while three of his older brothers served in the US Army in Europe, Wayne was granted a farm deferment to run the family farm. During this time, he met the love of his life, Mary Anna Walden who attended Western Kentucky State College in nearby Bowling Green. They married in 1952 in Louisville. Soon he was drafted into the US Army and the couple moved to Fort Hood, Texas where they started their family.
After Wayne’s military service, opportunity knocked on their door with an offer from Mary Ann’s Danish uncle in Montana to take over Mary Ann’s mother’s homestead. Their new life brought them far away from their Kentucky roots to their first farm, north of Geraldine, Montana. Wayne truly enjoyed farming and often claimed he never worked a day in his life. The couple spent winter months in nearby Fort Benton, where they built a home, raised their three children and made lasting friendships in their church and community. Wayne and Mary Ann were not only partners in marriage, but their life long unselfish commitment to each other carried them through parenting, farming and a travel-filled retirement.
Wayne especially enjoyed spending time with his family, traveling, camping and attending the children’s and grandchildren’s activities. He was passionate about restoring old vehicles. Finding a rusted-out car body in a junk pile beckoned him to the challenge of bringing it back to its original state. His greatest accomplishment was transforming a Model T grain truck into a 16-seat trolley. For many years, Wayne and Mary Ann could be seen taking groups of children, wedding parties and retirees around Fort Benton, never charging anyone. He enjoyed the experience as much as they did.
After retirement from farming, Wayne and Mary Ann traveled around the states and abroad, visiting family and making new friends. They spent 15 summers in Glacier National Park, serving as volunteer hosts at Two Medicine Campground. These were truly memorable summers as they found fulfillment in meeting many new friends and sharing their love of Montana with hundreds of tourists. Wayne was an active, lifetime member of Fort Benton’s Methodist Church, serving on the Board of Trustees for many years, doing whatever needed to keep the church running.
His woodworking hobby started early in life, then escalated as he retired from farming. He made pens, jewelry, name plates and custom work for others. Later he crafted numerous musical instruments, including psalteries, dulcimers, banjos and 13 harps. Montana Public Broadcasting - Backroads of Montana filmed a segment of their program on his life story, highlighting his handiwork and care for his family and community.
After his wife passed away in 2012, he moved to Chester Montana where his daughter lived. Even after he became confined to a wheelchair, he went daily to his woodworking shop in Chester to continue with his passion. Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, siblings and wife, Mary Ann. He is survived by his three children and their spouses including Larry Hampton of Helena, Gail (Rudy) Cicon of Chester, and Linda (Mark) Hendricksen of Spokane Washington, six grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and many beloved extended family members and friends.
A funeral service will be held Monday, December 16, at 11 am at the Methodist Church in Fort Benton, followed by a burial where Wayne will be laid to rest next to Mary Ann at the Fort Benton Cemetery. Memorials to honor Wayne can be made to the Fort Benton Museum and Heritage Complex, the Chester Senior Center, or the Hi-line Health Foundation.
To send flowers to Wayne's family, please visit our floral section.
Hi-Line Health Foundation
PO Box 705, Chester MT 59522