Gary Richard Smigaj, age 73 of Helena, passed away on May 27, 2020 from a massive subdural hematoma that resulted from a small fall that occurred two days earlier on Memorial Day. Gary was the youngest of two children born to Zigmunt and Helen Williams Smigaj on November 15, 1946 in Helena, where he would spend his entire life.
He graduated from Helena High School in 1965, then went on and spent two years at MSU. But school wasn’t necessarily his thing! He enrolled and served two years in the Army National Guard. All during this time, he worked almost every free moment for Norm Eck at Pay-n-Save Gas and Eck’s Toy Box and Hobby Shop. It was at the Pay-n-Save Gas that he would meet the love of his life Denise. Denise would actually stop in to see her boyfriend at the time, who also worked there. Eventually Gary won her heart over and their lives became forever tied together when they wed on August 9, 1969. Over the next 51 years together, they would have two crazy children of their own and eventually welcome five grandchildren who they would spoil to a whole new level.
He would hold various jobs over his life, but the two that brought him the most joy and excitement were his long construction career and being a fireman for the City of Helena. Had it not been for a training accident that forced him to take an early disability retirement, he probably would have worked there until his passing or at least until the City forced him to retire!
Gary loved hunting, shooting, fishing, mining with his dad, spending time at the family cabin at Seeley Lake, boating, four-wheeling, old cars (especially his 1966 Pontiac LeMans convertible), and spending time with and spoiling his grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife Denise; son Gary (Bettina) Smigaj of Kalispell; daughter Carrie (Andy) Saltenberger of Anaconda; five grandchildren Katelyn and Andy and Isabel, Eli and Quincy; brother Zig (Dr. Diana) Smigaj of Selah, Washington; a niece, numerous nephews, and many, many cousins. In addition, a “daughter” Lisa (Matt) Hixson Dorrington – thanks Jacquie and Fred for letting her also be a “Smigaj kid”; and “son” Sean (Justina) Clinch, – thanks Sean for being his garage buddy! We all miss and love you Dad!
There will be a viewing for friends and family from 4 to 6 PM, Thursday, June 11 at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E. 6th Ave. in Helena. Memorial donations may be sent in honor of Gary to City of Helena Fire Department Benefit Fund, St. Judes at www.stjude.org, or any organization of the donor’s choice. Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or share a memory of Gary.