Joel Bruce Hefty, age 74, passed away Sunday, March 26, 2017 at his home in Frenchtown. Joel was born in Fargo, North Dakota on June 15, 1942. His family moved to Ronan, Montana in 1948, where Joel entered the public school system as a first grader. After high school graduation, he served in the military for two years and was called in during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
He later began work as a heavy equipment operator. He was a devoted member of the Operating Engineers Union, Local 302, and was proud to have achieved 50-year status. He felt he owed his good life to his membership in the Operating Engineers Union.
In 1964 he married Bonita Lee Piedalue, also of Ronan. They have lived much of their lives in Frenchtown, where their sons Kevin and Jeff were raised. Joel's profession carried him to many jobs in the Northwest, most notably Libby, Montana and Alaska. His sons used to say, "Dad built Libby Dam and the Alaska Pipeline."
During his retirement years, Joel enjoyed traveling to see family and friends. He LOVED golf and spent as much time as possible on the course. Winter days were often spent playing cribbage and poker with his pals out in the shop, warmed by the woodstove. A little "friendly wager" always enhanced his interest in any game.
He is famous in the family for his obsession with keeping their huge yard free of pinecones and needles, and for insisting that his vehicles remain spotless. His attention to detail was reflected in his carefully stacked firewood, which was a work of art.
Deeply grieving his death, are his beloved wife of 52 years, Boni, his eldest son Kevin and wife Kim, their children Kylee and Kristof; his youngest son Jeff and wife Nicole and their children Bonita and Corbin. His sisters, (twin) Judith Barber, Lorilie Steen and Bonnie Hefty. Also mourning his passing are his wife’s mother Marjorie Piedalue and siblings Joe Piedalue, Frenchy Piedalue and Eve Armstrong.
Joel had an amazing memory, a gift for storytelling, a quick sense of humor and interest in other people, all of which resulted in a huge collection of friends from far and wide. Joel wanted to make sure that all his friends knew how much he appreciated their support during his struggle. The family would like to thank Doctors Snyder and Caldwell as well as the wonderful staff at the Providence Hospital Oncology Department.
In lieu of flowers, our family hopes you will remember a favorite memory you’ve shared with Joel.