Cover photo for Donald E. Rudolph's Obituary
1928 Donald 2020

Donald E. Rudolph

February 20, 1928 — March 18, 2020


Donald Eugene Rudolph passed during the afternoon of March 18, 2020 at the Liberty Medical

Care Center following a short stay. He was 92. Donald was born on February 20, 1928 at the Olga Ness

Hospital in Chester. He was the 4th of 5 children born to Ray S. Rudolph and Hazel V. Ray. He spent

his early life on their farm north of Joplin, attending the Juanita Country School and then graduating in

1946 from Joplin High School. He was so proud to tell everyone that his first-grade teacher celebrated

her l08th birthday in November of 2019 and he helped her celebrate, as he was able to do for the last

several years.

Donald loved playing basketball in high school and mentioned several times that was the only reason he

went! (He did admit later that his mother really wanted him to graduate from high school, which he

did.) He finished a half year early and would have been the valedictorian if he had stayed in school until

the end of the year, but he started farming. He and his school mates wanted to play football and track,

but it was during WW2 and it wasn't offered. He would have been good at track because he could run

and jump a 4-wire fence with no problem!

Donald and his brother, Carroll, purchased the Jennie Hughes place 28 miles north of Joplin in 1946.

Times were tough and the farm was in poor shape with lots of weeds. They hauled their crop to town to

sell the first year in a pickup truck.... Not enough to make their payment that year, or even the interest.

Mrs. Hughes took a note for the interest and it ended up they paid for the farm in 12 years!! They later

purchased a farm near Hogeland, MT and a small place in the Milk River Valley east of Chinook. They

bought 4 registered Angus heifers in 1958. This was the start of the Rudolph Brothers Registered Angus

herd, a successful venture for many years. Donald liked working with the cattle and, although this

started out as a "hobby" it soon became the focal point of his life. The cow herd grew to 150 cows. The

yearling bulls were sold each spring for 20 years, and the herd was dispersed in 1987 when Carroll

wanted to retire. In the early years the yearling bulls were sold private treaty but later they held their

own production sale at auction at the Chinook ranch.

During the early years of his farming operation, Donald would occasionally go to the Harrison home for

dinner (the noon meal when you live on a farm!) since his land and Norris' land joined. As time went on

he visited their home more as their daughter, Shirley, was growing up! They became engaged in 1956

and were married on December 8, 1957. To this union were born 3 little girls: Tammy, Twila, and

Wanda, who added a new dimension to his life. He helped them as they grew with 4-H projects, taught

them to help around the farm, attended their basketball games, Sunday School programs, school events,


After the cow herd was sold, Donald and Shirley decided to try camping and bought a 5th wheel trailer.

Later Donald wanted a motorhome and they started going to Arizona during the winter. They did

this from 1993 until 2010 enjoying the nicer weather, new experiences and making lots of new friends.

They always enjoyed coming home to Montana each spring and loved seeing the "Welcome to

Montana" sign at the Idaho/Montana border. They were also members of Milk River Campers, a local

camping group that traveled to different areas around our state and beyond and enjoyed this life for

almost 20 years.  A group of 5 couples took their RV's on a trip to Alaska leaving the end of May in 1998.

They were gone for 6 weeks and 6600 miles! Donald enjoyed the trip but only wanted to drive it once.

In 1981, the grandchildren began to arrive. They were blessed with 4 grandsons, Michael, Neal, Reece,

and Bradley Duncan. Grandpa helped the boys with their woodworking projects for 4-H, planted fish in

the reservoir so they could fish, etc. He took the motorhome to Havre for the fair so they had someplace

to stay.

Donald had time to do some woodworking after the cows were sold. He bought his equipment and

made some beautiful projects. He was especially proud of the corner china cabinet he made, as well as

numerous wooden clocks, belt buckles, earrings, jewelry boxes, light boxes, magazine racks, grandfather

clocks, etc. Some items he sold but most he gave to family and friends.

How do you summarize a full life of 92 years in condensed form? There are so many happy memories,

new events, etc. As his life was winding down, he was eagerly awaiting the birth of his twin great

grandsons. They arrived in February and he enjoyed showing the nurses pictures of the babies. He

never got to see them in this life but loved all his great grandchildren.

Donald is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley; daughters, Tammy (Bruce), Twila (Rick), and Wanda;

his grandsons, Michael (Katie) and their children, Mikalie, Hadlie, Whitlie, Briggs, and Jaynie, Neal, Reece

(Ashley) and their children, Savannah, Jonathan, and Samuel, Bradley (Stormy) and her daughters, Bailey

and Karsyn; sisters-in-law, Mary Rudolph, Jean Harrison, Jean Stone, Nancy Harrison, and Elaine Hodges;

brother-in-law, Lyle Harrison; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings, Thelma (Glenn) LaValley, Carroll,(Kathern),Harley and baby sister, Marilyn Joy; brothers-in-law, Donald and Robert Harrison, and Willis Hodges; and in-laws, Norris and Opal Harrison.

A memorial service will be held July 24, 2020 at the Chester City Park. Burial of ashes will follow at the

Joplin Cemetery. Those attending the memorial are asked to please bring their own lawn chairs if

possible and follow social distancing guidelines .

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald E. Rudolph, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, July 24, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

Chester City Park

, Chester, MT 59522

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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