Robert Kuka, 95, died of natural causes May 3, 2023 at a Great Falls extended-care facility. His funeral will be May 22nd at 2:00 p.m. at the Valier United Methodist Church with burial in Lakeview Cemetery. Asper Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Robert was the second-born son of Dorothy & Frank Kuka. He was born in 1927 at the home of his grandparents, Martha & Joe Kuka, west of Valier on Birch Creek. As a child, Robert's family lived in several nearby areas, depending on where his dad was working for the civil service. These areas included the Old Agency on Badger Creek, the Flume Camp on Blacktail Creek, the Irrigation camp on the Badger Fisher Water Project, as well as the family farm on Birch Creek. Weather and the changing U.S. economy created difficult years for everyone, but Robert worked hard at whatever needed to be done. He spent many summers haying and harvesting for relatives & neighbors. Robert and his brother Dick rode to a country school together on their horse Happy for eight years, then spent the next four years “baching” in Valier at the Weismantel Apartments on their own, until they both graduated from Valier High School in 1945. Robert went on to attend a year of college at the University of Montana in Missoula. Robert returned to start farming, but was interrupted by his draft notice in 1950 at the start of the Korean War. He served in the 28th Signal Corp in Germany until his discharge in1952. During his time in the service, Robert had been corresponding with Ruth Culleton, and after returning, they began dating until their marriage in 1954. Thus began a lifetime of love surrounded by family, farming and ranching together, until Ruth’s death in 2012. Many good times were spent at family gatherings, summer picnics, pack trips, fishing, hunting and camping. Robert loved to sing and taught himself to play the harmonica, fiddle, and accordion, and enjoyed old time songs and music.
Hard times taught Robert to be a humble and generous person whether it was helping someone out with money or a job when he was able to, donating to community causes, or just sharing a kind word. He was happy to pass on his knowledge & practical wisdom on anything from sighting in a rifle, tying a bowline knot, raising cattle or shoeing a horse. Robert had an excellent memory, a lively interest in people and current events, and a wonderful storytelling gift. His friends and family loved hearing him talk about the "olden days" and enjoyed conversing with him on any topic. Robert loved Montana history and traveled all over the state visiting most of the historical sites. No doubt you have seen Robert motoring his 1926 Model T pickup in many a Homesteader Day or Grizzly Day parade over the years, one of his long-time hobbies. Over the years, Robert was involved with memberships on the ASCS Committee, Pondera Medical Center Hospital Board, Valier Rifle Club, the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Valier Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth of 57 years; older brother, Richard; sons, Robbie and Lee Kuka; and granddaughter, Meagan Wentworth Widhalm. Survivors include children, Karen (Bernard) Widhalm of Valier, Tom (Linda) Kuka of Valier, Mary Kuka of Conrad, Linda (Bruce) Stull of Valier; daughter-in-law Lethea Garman Kuka of Valier; 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren; brothers, Francis Kuka of Lincoln, CA and Herb Kuka of Polson, MT, and sister-in-law, Janice Groshens of Litchfield, MN.
Any man who is good by heart is a great man, and Robert was the best. A heart full of thanks to those who cared for him in his final years. We love you, Dad.
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