In memory of

Dr. Neil C. Livingstone Jr., age 94, of Helena

December 3, 1922 – August 6, 2017

Dr. Neil C. Livingstone Jr. passed away quietly in his sleep on August 6, 2017, after a protracted illness.   The long-time Helena dentist was just four months shy of his 95th birthday.

The son of Neil C. Livingstone Sr. and Helen M. (Neace) Livingstone, he was born on December 3, 1922, in Wallace, Idaho.  He spent his early years in Puyallup, Washington, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where his father owned and managed shoe stores.  In 1930, the family moved to Helena, where Neil Sr. went into the shoe business, eventually opening Livingstone’s Shoe Store at 6th and Main (Last Chance Gulch), which at one time boasted one of the largest inventories of shoes between St. Louis and San Francisco.

His grandfather was a stockman and banker who operated an extensive wheat and cattle ranch near Endicott, Washington, and was one of the 75 members of the Constitutional Convention who drafted the state’s constitution.  The ranch boasted the second oldest brand in the state and young Neil often drove his grandfather around the property’s gravel roads in a Pierce-Arrow when he wasn’t working on the combine, attending dances in Wynola, or riding his horse Tarzan.  He also incurred his grandfather’s wrath from time-to-time for pranks like lighting the methane in one of the outhouses used by the cowboys, burning the structure down.

He attended Helena High School, where he was junior class president as well as a member of the ski, tennis, art, and pep clubs, and on the junior prom committee, the vigilante parade committee, and the student council.    In 1938, the Marlow movie theater organized an election of high school students to publicize the motion picture, “Boys Town,” starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracey.  Students were elected to city and statewide offices, and Neil was elected Secretary of State.  Each of the “state officers” was recognized by Helena mayor Albert Roberts and received a “personal congratulatory telegram from Mickey Rooney, and later autographed photos from Rooney and Tracey.

He was active in the DeMolay, where he was elected “senior deacon” and “senior steward,” as well as the Boy Scouts.  In the summer of 1937 he attended the National Scout Jamboree in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Franklin Roosevelt.

But the same mischievous streak that he exhibited at the ranch resurfaced in high school when he and his pals fully dissembled a Model-T Ford and reassembled on top of the Power Block, much to the chagrin of the owner.

After graduating from high school, he entered Carroll College as part of a special U.S. Navy program during World War Two.   Although he had considered being a rancher he concluded that he wanted to be a physician.  The Navy, however, had a shortage of dentists and he was transferred to a pre-dentistry program.  After two years at Carroll, as part of an accelerated program, he transferred to St. Louis University, where he graduated with a degree in dentistry.

He met his wife, Jeanne Jose Colbourn, in St. Louis, where she was attending art school.  They were married in Oklahoma City and subsequently relocated to San Diego, home port for the USS Mount McKinley, an amphibious force command ship.  He served for two years as a dental officer aboard the Mount McKinley, which was the command ship for the atomic bomb tests at Enewetak Atoll in the South Pacific as part of Operation Sandstone.  On August 10, 1946, he witnessed the second post-war nuclear bomb test, his eyes shielded by heavy goggles so dense that it is possible to stare directly at the sun through them.  During his time in the Navy, he was awarded the World War II Victory medal and the American Areas Campaign medal, and was part of the effort which spun off the dental corps into a separate command.

After completing his internship in oral surgery and a residency at the Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, he left the Navy and returned to Helena, where he opened a dental practice in the Power Block.  He and his wife had three children—Neil, Erika, and Bill—all of whom graduated from Helena Senior High.

When he retired he contributed his dental equipment as part of an effort to establish the first dental operatory in the Yasawa Island area of Fiji.  He played golf and enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was a member of the Helena Wilderness Riders, spending ten days on horseback in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area every summer for 34 straight years.  He also was a member of the Navy League and an active Shriner.  In 2009, he was recognized for having been a Shriner for fifty years.

A Family receiving friends will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Friday, August 11, 2017 at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E 6th Ave. A Graveside Service will be held at 3:00 p.m., Friday, August 11, 2017 at Forestvale Cemetery.

Please visit below to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Neil.

Memories

Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Tom Naegele says:

    Livingstone Family,
    Your Dad lived a very adventurous and full live. He and your Mom gave so much back to the Helena Community. They also taught and nurtured three fine kids over the years. Sending you Prayers of support and healing as you Celebrate your Dad and Mom during this time.

    Best Regards,

  2. MARK RADLEY says:

    Your family and ours always seemed connected.. Your father always treated me kindly and with respect.
    He was one of my fathers favorite people.
    DR. had a long and interesting life. I am happy I knew him.
    Sorry for your loss, I’m sure you will be able to focus on the great memories of his life.

  3. Jack L. Williams says:

    Best dentist I ever had. He was always happy to see me and when I had little emergencies he always made time for me. I always trusted him to do his best.

  4. Audrey Blomquist says:

    Livingstone Family:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you at the loss of your father. May family and friends comfort you during this sad time.

    Regards, Audrey Blomquist

  5. Pam Tyree says:

    Such a sweet man. I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers.
    With deep sympathy
    Pam Kovick Tyree

  6. Barbara Lasko Hopper says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Dr. Livingstone’s passing. He was our dentist and I remember appointments with him starting when I was about five years old and his practice was in the Power Block and continued to see him through the last 1960s when he practiced on Montana Avenue. Neil lll and I graduated from Helena Senior High in 1964…such a long time ago!

    He was a wonderful dentist, kind and always had a smile for you. What an interesting and full life he led. RIP.

  7. Merry Lou (Humphreys) Casteel says:

    Neil was a dear neighbor, always kind and sweet. Son Neil and my sister Patsy and I went to school together. Nice memories! Enjoy the fond memories of your dad.

  8. Ann & Mike Munsterman says:

    Sorry to hear of your Father’s passing. He lived a remarkable life! Always kind and caring, my favorite dentist! Erika and I have known one another since high school. I have nice memories of the family and spending time at their home as a teenager.
    Ann & Mike
    Lake Stevens, Washington

  9. P. J. Moran says:

    While attending Carroll in the50’s it was well known that DR. Livingston would give students a very nice price on any dental work necessary. He pulled an abscessed tooth for me for $5.00 for which I was most greatful as I was working my way through college. Very generous on his part.

  10. Christina Papanikolas says:

    Dear Neil,
    I never met your father but I know you and Cynthia brought him much happiness by moving back to Helena to be closer to him. I am sure he was very grateful to have the two of you lively people near him. I am sorry for your loss and send you my sincere condolences.

    A warm hug,
    Your old pal from Wahtergate South Chris

  11. Darlene Abeyta says:

    Dr. Livingstone was my dentist since the 70s. He was a great person. I am sure sorry he is gone. Prayers and thoughts to his family.

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