Jack White

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Jack Milton White, 87, passed away Wednesday, April 22, 2020, with his wife Rita Gravel White, his girls, and the Lord by his side, at his apartment at the Bozeman Lodge, in Bozeman, Mont.  

He was born on Jan. 1, 1933, in Bozeman, to Delmar and Ann White.

From a story about his life, “Back to Montana,” Jack wrote: 

“I was born and raised in Bozeman, Mont., where I attended grade school, Gallatin County High School and Montana State College. My grandfather and grandmother were early Montana pioneers. Stephen came to Montana in 1866 at age 13, and his grandmother, Lenora, came by covered wagon from Missouri to Helena, Mont., in 1864, when she was 1 year old. They were hardy pioneers who married and settled on a ranch southwest of Bozeman in 1898. The ranch has been in the White family for five generations.

“My mother’s parents immigrated from Austria in the 1880s. Because there was no train from Miles City to Bozeman, my grandfather walked nearly 300 miles mostly at night to avoid a skirmish with Indians. After graduating with a degree in chemical engineering in 1955, I had to leave Montana to pursue a job in my chosen field at 3M company in St. Paul, Minn. However, I never left Montana spiritually and spent all my vacations back at the ranch in Montana. My lifetime goal has always been to return to Montana. After working at 3M for 34 years, I retired and returned to the ranch outside of Bozeman.

“3M was an outstanding company to work for and provided me opportunities that I could not have imagined growing up on a Montana ranch. For a kid who grew up using a work horse named “Nellie,” to plow ditches and stack hay, traveling around the world was not something I could have imagined. 

“I married a wonderful woman, Joan DeZiel (June 21, 1958), and we raised four daughters together. Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer a month after I retired. After a courageous battle with cancer, she passed away from colon cancer eight years later. We were married for 39 years. I was devastated to lose my wife and best friend. Three years later, I was blessed with a “new beginning” when I met and married Rita Gravel (July 1, 2000), whom I had gone to high school with. We increased the size of our family to six children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with another one on the way.

“Life has many ups and downs. I felt blessed to have had a wonderful family and friends throughout life. My mother and father provided me with love and support and instilled in me the virtues of honesty, respect for others, patience and a strong work ethic.”

During his time at 3M, Jack and Joan made many lifelong friends. It was a wonderful job, which gave him the opportunity to travel to Europe, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.

Jack was a lifelong supporter of MSU and the Bobcats. He took piano lessons from Harry Fletcher at an early age, enjoyed entertaining family and friends and played for the rest of his life. He passed down his love of music to his family. He also loved to ski and taught his children and grandchildren at an early age. He organized many family ski days at Bridger Bowl and formally awarded ski pins to the grandchildren, for “most improved skier” when they actually all got ski pins.

Jack is survived by his wife of almost 20 years, Rita Gravel White; four daughters, Denise (John) Pugh of Bozeman, Diane White (Lonnie Olson) of Clancy, Mont., Debbie (Mike) Sjostrom of Malta, Mont., and Dori (Kirk) Linse of Laurel, Mont.; grandchildren, Natalie (Max) Miller, of Idaho, Justin (Cherish) Linse of Laurel, Alex Linse of Colorado, Kallie Linse of Bozeman, Alison (Jadon) Nichols of Helena, Megan Pugh (Zach Dombroski) of Billings, Mont., Joanie Sjostrom of Washington, and Reese Sjostrom, of Bozeman; great-grandchildren, Grant Miller and soon to arrive new baby, and Miller and Renn Nichols. Also surviving are Rita’s son and daughter, Martin (Michelle) Gravel, of Colorado, and Lynn Mosier of California; grandchildren, Alex (Renee) Gravel of Colorado, and Madison and Mackenzie Mosier of California. Jack is further survived by his nephews, Steve (Pam) White, Kerry (Patty) White, and Craig (Gretchen) White, all of Bozeman, Adrian (Tammy) Kurre of Tennessee and Mike (Kate) Kurre of Minnesota; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Jack was proceeded in death by his parents, Delmar and Ann Nahlinger White; his first wife, Joan White; and his brother, Ray (Shirlie) White.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 28, from noon until 7 p.m. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. Private family services will be held on Wednesday, April 29, at 10 a.m. at Dokken-Nelson. Due to the virus, friends are encouraged to attend the funeral via the internet at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA1btMzIdvw. Interment will follow at Sunset Hills Cemetery, after dad makes one last trip to the ranch. 

Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the MSU Alumni Association, Gallatin County History Museum, Sourdough Lions Club or to Bozeman Health Foundation (care of hospice).

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