Ed Bratton

Born: Sun., Sep. 9, 1923
Died: Wed., Feb. 28, 2018

Funeral Service

11:00 AM Thu., Mar. 08, 2018
Location: Ronan Community Center

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 For one whose achievements reflect his compassion and regard for community, Ed has had a good long ride. "I came into this valley in the fall of 1923," is the way George Edward Bratton described his birth. His father Neil homesteaded in the Irvine Flats area, then married Helen Findley, whose family settled here from Iowa.

His first trip to the Polson Hospital was at the age of three, when he walked up behind his father to show him that he had filled a basket with chicken eggs. His father was splitting wood at the time, and without noticing his son, he drew back his ax. The blade sliced the young boy's neck. His mother gathered him into her dress keeping pressure on the wound as his father quickly loaded a couple of bags of wool into the Model T. He wanted to make the most of the sixteen mile trip into town.

Trips off the ranch were few, and included traveling to Kailspell for supplies. His family loaded onto a buckboard wagon, following the rutted trail over the hill through Big Arm, to an Inn on Angel Point. Returning from Kalispell loaded with goods, they would stay again at the Inn near Lakeside, making it a three day trip. Long-time friend John Bartel is now the keeper of this wagon.

Uncle Vernon Findley introduced Ed to the Bob Marshall Wilderness area, where the men would pack a string of horses into hunting camp every fall. They would begin at the Ridenhour's home on Finley Point, riding over Hellroaring Pass. At Goat Creek, Vernon's dump truck awaited, filled with supplies. The pack train pushed on into the Bob, continuing east, following the Bunker Creek to the South Fork of the Flathead. This annual adventure continued into the 1990s, later trucking the pack train to the trail head at Holland Lake. As the camp's chief cook & horse wrangler in his final ten years, he no longer packed a gun.

Ed was elected class president in his senior year at Montana State College (now MSU), the year that the attendance doubled to over 2000 students. With a degree in Agriculture, he returned to the valley, working as Assistant Manager of Gold Medal Dairy. He worked alongside a beautiful young office manager named Ruby Christopherson.

They married and were soon raising two rambunctious boys. Ed became the new County Extension Agent for Lincoln County in 1959. He would jokingly say that he and Ruby moved to Libby, and the boys found them two weeks later. In 1962 he returned to Ronan, as our new County Agent. During his time here, he taught many aspiring farmers their trade through the GI Bill. He also sold insurance, and became an expert in agricultural accounting. Tax season was a very busy time in Ed's home office. He was still offering this service at the age of 90.

Ed joined the St. Luke Hospital Board in the 1950s. In mid-December of 1954 with temperatures reaching a negative 35, he kept the oil furnace burning.

In the late 1950s, operating costs nearly closed down the hospital. In response, the Board recruited Charles, of Thornton Brother's Hospital (now Community) in Missoula. After notification of repossession from the company supplying medical equipment, Dr Thornton recruited Ed and Cal to launch a dollar-per-month pledge program. This raised a healthy monthly payment that paid the bills, and the hospital thrived.

He was the secretary of the Wool Grower's Assn., and secretary of the NW Cattleman's Association, organizing the annual fall rail shipment of cattle to Omaha, NE. He also managed the Lake County Junior Fair, taking a leadership role in 4-H and FFA. He continued at the Lake County Extension Service until his retirement in 1985. He was also a member of the Round Butte Grange for over sixty years.

Ed was a skilled horseman and team driver. He was among the cowboys who worked the buffalo during the annual roundup at the National Bison Range.

Beginning at the Dixon Bridge, the Westmont Wagoneers camped, played music and built friendships as they journeyed down the Flathead River each spring. Ed never missed this annual affair, and was the wagon master on many occasions. Music had always been a part of Ed's life, beginning with his fiddle-playing father. His appreciation for this instrument compelled him to get involved with the State Fiddle Championships, once an annual event in Polson. He was the association's Master of Ceremony for 34 years, long past its removal to Red Lodge, MT.

As children, many may remember his homemade horse-drawn sleigh rides. This same sleigh would be filled with gifts and Santa Clause every holiday season. He made sure his stops included the local retirement homes, delivering treats donated by the Lion's Club. Ed was a member of the Lion's Club for over fifty years.

Ed had a powerful personality that was especially playful, drawing the attention of many children. They always had a place on his lap, where he encouraged magical thinking, and often taught them how to make rope out of twine, how to twirl a rope or introduce them to his extensive collection of fascinating antique tools.

Everywhere Ed went, he knew someone. This is a result of his magnetism. He always had time for a toddy, hosting many at his Ronan home. This practice became a weekly affair in his later years, as friends and family gathered every Tuesday for "Whiskey Night."

Ed passed away Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at St Luke Community Hospital in Ronan. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Ruby of 46 years, his sister Jane (Bill), brothers Neil (Stevie), Don (Midge), and Phil's wife Ruth. He is survived by his special partner of 17 years, Clara Likens, his brother Phil (Gay) of Stevensville and his youngest brother Gene (Jeannie) of Greenville, SC. He leaves two sons, Bob Bratton of Billings and Dick Bratton (Sandy Rooney) of Polson. He also leaves Clara's daughter, Martha Smith (Slim Arends) of Arizona, Ed was blessed with four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will take place at the Ronan Community Center, Thursday, March 8 at 11:00 am. In his honor, donations can be made to the Lake County 4H, FFA or a charity of choice.

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Condolence Booklet

Jane Tougas
   Posted Fri March 02, 2018
Our sincere condolences Bob and Dick, I am sure you have a lot of great memories. Pat and Jane Tougas

Don & Kristy BICK
   Posted Fri March 02, 2018
Bob, Dick, and Clara you are all in our prayers.
We did enjoy visiting with Ed this past year.
He influenced a lot of people in this valley.

Margaret Horner Burke
   Posted Sat March 03, 2018
Clara, Dick, and Bob....
My sincere condolences to all of you... I have known Ed most of my years in Ronan... he was a dear friend of my classmate Doris Thornton Ellison who asks about Ed when we get a chance to visit.... May he rest in peace... God's blessings... Margaret

Durien McGourty
   Posted Sat March 03, 2018
I was so sorry to hear that your Dad has passed. I will always remember his wit & humor! He lived a long & good life & am sure he was very proud of both of you. Blessings to you & the family

Maggie Plummer
   Posted Sun March 04, 2018
Dick, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss.

I am thinking of you and sending you my best energy during this difficult time. If there is anything I can do to help you and your family, please just let me know.

Ed had a great life! May he rest in Peace.

Barb Erickson
   Posted Tue March 06, 2018
My condolences to Ed’s family. I have so many fun memories of visiting with Ed and Ruby.
He will be greatly missed.

John & Linda Scholtens
   Posted Tue March 06, 2018
So sorry to hear about your dad. Even though we never met him your fond stories let us know he was a wonderful person & he will be missed.

Jim and Shirley DeBree
   Posted Tue March 06, 2018
Our sincere sympathies in the passing of Ed. He truly was one of a kind and provided guidance and counsel when I went to work for Extension in Ravalli County in 1963.

Donna (Eckley) Fangsrud
   Posted Wed March 07, 2018
I'm so sorry to read of Ed's passing and regret I cannot attend his funeral. I knew Ed through 4-H and as babysitting for his two boys. My memories of him are always of him smiling and making jokes. He will be missed by so many. Donna

Shirley and Paul Gochis
   Posted Thu March 08, 2018
We are so sorry about your loss. He was a cherry customer at times at our orchard. He was a very fine man.

Hal and Sandy Jenkinson
   Posted Thu March 08, 2018
Bob, Dick, and Clara,
We were so sorry to hear of Ed's passing. He was a great and unique personality. We will never forget our visit to his home during the last reunion we were able to attend. We know he will be greatly missed. Take care of each other. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Mary & Rick Borden
   Posted Thu March 08, 2018
Bob and family,

Your dad was such a key member of his generation for the Mission Valley. A legacy of doing so many things to help his friends, neighbors, business acquaintances, farmers, and family. And all of it with a great sense of humor, mixed with a touch of mischief.

Jerry and Billye Roseleip
   Posted Wed March 14, 2018
Bob, Dick, and Clara, Our sincerest sympathy for your loss. I remember Ed just being a part of everything in Lake County since I was very small. He always had a helpful hint or a funny story. He was great at poking fun and just as easily enjoyed being the brunt of a joke. I would have enjoyed whiskey night once in a while but I probably would have brought my own homebrew so he could evaluate the quality of my hops and barley from an expert point of view. God's Blessings to you all.

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