Thomas June Scalese, 100, of Galata, passed away May 22, 2017 at the Marias Care Center due to complications from pneumonia.
Thomas June Scalese was born January 17, 1917 at the family home in Galata, Montana- the third child of Frank and Dell T. (Hales) Scalese’s four children. He spent his early years on his parents’ homesteads developing a deep and abiding affection for the Sweet Grass Hills. Tom’s formal schooling began at the one-room Eide school house and he graduated at age 16 from Oilmont High School during the height of the Great Depression. The 1933 World's Fair in Chicago made quite an impression on a young Tom when he spent a week there, having ridden the train with livestock to the Chicago sales yard.
He was visiting his Hales cousins in Iowa in December 1941 when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor broke. Tom volunteered for the draft on December 8, 1941 and served in the U.S. Army from April 1942 until his honorable discharge in June 1943. He always surmised that he was the first Montana recruit as he was in Central Time Zone when he volunteered the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He met Emily Jean Oakes, a young school teacher at Grandview School at a picnic in 1942. Tom and Emily married September 3, 1943 and had three children Dorothy, Shirley and Robert. Tom worked as a pumper in the Kevin oil fields for twelve years, but happily returned to the family homestead full-time in 1957. He remained there full-time until age 94.
A product of the Montana hi-line, Tom learned first-hand from his parents and neighbors the hard work of homesteading. He had an inspiring work ethic that he taught his children. Tom’s genuine love of his family and community is reflected in his children’s fond memories of his participation in and support of their 4-H and Boy Scout activities. Fiercely patriotic, he played an active role in the American Legion Honor Guard. As a Mason for over 50 years, Tom was a Master of his lodge, also serving as secretary for many years. He was a long time member of the Order of Eastern Star, serving as Worthy Patron when his wife was Worthy Matron.
Tom valued education and volunteered many years of service as school board member for the elementary school and district high school. He had the unique gift of "water witching" and was successful in finding water for many different people in various locations in North Central Montana. He didn't guarantee quality or quantity- “just that it would be wet.”
Tom enjoyed attending family reunions in Iowa and Missouri and hosting reunions in Montana. He was an avid reader known for his stories about Montana history and his youth. He found time to record many of the memories of his 100 years in two published books, “As I Remember” and “Under the Slipper” noting that, “Many of these things will not happen again.” Tom celebrated his 100th birthday January 17 surrounded by his children, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his wife, a brother, a sister and two sons-in-laws. Tom is survived by his daughters, Dorothy Armstrong Lang, Miles City; Shirley Wilson, Townsend; and his son Robert (Diane) Scalese, East Glacier; seven (7) grandchildren; nine (9) great grandchildren, his brother and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Memorial suggestions to Toole County Library and Galata Cemetery Association.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, May 30 at 11:00 AM at Galata Lutheran Church. Interment will follow in Galata Cemetery with Masonic rites and full military honors. Asper Funeral Home of Shelby is handling funeral arrangements.