In memory of

Opal Buchanan, age 98, of Helena

September 3, 1918 – August 21, 2017

Opal Anna Johnson Buchanan, Helena, passed away August 21, 2017. Opal was born September 3, 1918, to D. Pearl Pontius and Louis J Johnson in Frazer, MT.

Opal graduated Frazer High School in 1937 and Northern Montana College in Havre in 1939. She met Harry Buchanan while working for room and board for his aunt and uncle in Havre. She taught in several country schools in Lothair, Hingham and Fairfield prior to their marriage on November 18, 1945, after Harry returned from his military duties in the Navy. They established a bakery in Chinook, MT, in 1950 and lived there until 1953 when they returned to the Frazer area.  Opal taught in the Frazer Public Schools for 39 years, retiring in 1984.

She and Harry then moved to Bigfork where she became very active at Bethany Lutheran Church, the local Food Bank, and Bigfork Senior Center, and established many wonderful friendships. In 2002 they relocated to Helena to be near daughter Donna and grandson Andrew.  She has resided at Renaissance Senior Center since Harry’s death in 2013. Sincere thanks to all of the wonderful dedicated caregivers there.

She is survived by: her daughter, Donna of Kalispell; grandson, Andrew who is currently serving in the US Marine Corps; sister, Ruby Eliason of Glasgow; as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by: her parents; husband, Harry and sister, Ruth Fast.

A funeral service celebrating Opal’s life will be 10:00 AM, Friday, August 25th at New Life Lutheran Church, 5980 N. Montana Avenue, with a light reception following the service at the Church. Burial will follow the reception at the Montana State Veteran’s Cemetery, Fort Harrison. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial be sent to Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation, PO Box 80807, Billings, MT 59108 or Enable Ministries,  c/o Dana Croxton, 2369 Royal Avenue, Simi Valley, CA93065. Please visit to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Opal.


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

  1. Jim Penner says:

    Fond memories of visiting my parents close friends Opal and Harry over the years in Chinook, Frazer, Bigfork and later in Helena. Especially remember dinners at my grandfather’s home in Wolf Point when Donna and I were growing up.

    Jim Penner, Godson of Opal & Harry

  2. Virginia Redstone says:

    That the way I remember Aunt Opal, nice picture.
    So many memories of our years in Frazier growing up. She is in a better place and at peace.

  3. Barbee Buchanan says:

    Great picture of Aunt Opal, lots of good memories of past family events. We know she is at peace and with family in a better place prepared for her by our Father. Wishing I could be there, know that I am in spirit. God bless, I will see you next trip back to Montana. bjb

  4. Jeannie Decker Hertsgaard says:

    My condolences – what a nice picture of Opal, and as Virginia said, the way I remember her. I have such fond memories of going to the Buchanans home in Frazer to play with Donna. I can even remember the lay-out of the house for the most part. May she be at peace.

  5. Gary Novota says:

    Donna – I’m sorry we missed seeing this notice in the paper. We know you have been visiting your Mom regularly & taking care of things. May you find peace & comfort in your own faith, & thru the help of your family & friends. We’re thinking of you & sending you our sympathies…blessings to you. Hugs from Gary & Joy ~**~

  6. Maridee Hopkins says:

    We spent a lot of time with Aunt Opal and Uncle Harry after they moved to Bigfork. Opal could talk your ear off for sure, but she was one of the most generous and caring people I ever knew. She is finally at peace and reunited with Harry, her parents, and sister Ruth.

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