In memory of

Frank J. Busch, age 97, of Dillon

July 24, 1920 – August 13, 2017

Frank was a member of the “Greatest Generation” and, typically, exhibited the characteristics of hard work, love of God, family, and country. He continually pursued education throughout his life and never lost his thirst for knowledge.

Frank was born in Miles City, Montana, on July 24, 1920. His parents, Frank and Norma (Moore) Busch, were ranchers in Powder River County. His father was also a land surveyor.  Frank’s first eight years of education were spent in a one-room country schoolhouse, to which he commuted on his horse two and a half miles each way every day.  In the evenings he and his family read by the light of coal oil lamps.  His only sibling, younger brother, Charles, died in 1928.  In 1935, the family moved to Missoula, where he attended and graduated from Missoula County High School (now Hellgate High).  In 1942, he graduated from the University of Montana, where he was an ROTC student. Immediately upon graduation, he entered the army.

In March 1943, Frank and Marguerite McGreal of Butte were united in marriage. The ceremony took place in the army chapel at Garden City, Kansas, Air Force Base. To this union, four children were born: Carol, Lawrence, Diane, and Janet (Bobbi). A fifth child, Virginia, then joined the family. This marriage ended in divorce in 1973. Marg preceded Frank in death.

After serving for a year in the infantry, Frank transferred to the Air Corps and began pilot training. He received his Pilot Wings in May 1944 and flew 35 combat missions in the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy. He was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaves and five Battle Stars for Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley, Air Offensive Balkans, and Battle of Central Europe.  At the end of the war, he was discharged with the rank of Captain and returned to Missoula where he pursued and earned a Master’s Degree in History at the University of Montana.  The family then moved to Berkeley, California, where Frank began work on his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.  In 1952, the family moved to Butte where, for ten years, Frank owned and managed the Taylor Laundry.  In 1962, he returned to his original plan of teaching when he became a professor at Western Montana College (now the University of Montana-Western). He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Montana in 1975. His dissertation, Power for the People: Montana’s Cooperative Utilities, was published by the University of Montana Press in 1976. He was a member of the faculty at Western Montana College until 1991, when he retired.

In 1974, Frank married Marcy Pendleton and added three step-children, Dana, Cara, and Curt, to the family. Following retirement, Frank and Marcy traveled through most of the United States including Alaska. They also traveled to Italy, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Turkey.

Frank was a longtime member of the Elks Lodge, Rotary, and the Masonic Order. He was a member of the Dillon City Council and served as its president for many years.  In 1970, Frank converted to the Roman Catholic faith and became a member of the Saint Rose of Lima Parish.

Frank is survived by his wife, Marcy, children Carol (Jim) Hurst, Larry (Chris) Busch, Diane Walsh, Janet (Mark) Walker, Virginia (Bernie) Jones; stepchildren Dana (Bill) Carroll, Cara (Bob) Campbell, and Curt (Sherry) Pendleton, as well as numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Gifts in honor of Frank can be made to: The University of Montana Western Foundation, Humane Society of Beaverhead County, or Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.


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

  1. I often think of our trips to Montana and how welcoming you all were. I have told many people of the trip to what we were told was Rattlesnake FLats late one evening. Frank opened his car door and my sister tried to crawl onto the back window ledge. Frank got quite a kick out of that. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I could make it to the service on Friday.

  2. Thea Lou Seese says:

    Touchmark at Helena,
    We remembered Frank at the weekly communion service Wednesday, August 16.
    A founder of our History Club, he was to start the Fall season with a memoir of Governor Babcock.
    We met by being seated at the same dinner table.For example, I think his memories of Butte, mother in law’s home town, then WW2, he on active duty and I, ten years younger,from Sacramento he to Cal-Berkeley, while California was still a lovely place kept both of us checking on history.Always something he knew of.
    The subject of homesteading so common here, was fascinating to me. “Homesteading did not charm my mother”, said he. She sold hers.
    He will be missed by many of us.

  3. Melodee Overn Haagenson says:

    Marcy and family – my condolences on your loss. I worked for Dr. Busch while attending WMC – (UM Western) and appreciated his vast knowledge and willingness to discuss and explain history. Attending Christmas Open House at the Busch’s was quite a treat for a college student and most enjoyable. Thank you Dr. Busch and Marcy for sharing with a student. May God comfort you.

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