Don died at home with dignity and on his own terms with his three children at his side on Friday, November 26, 2021. He was born to Pete and Margie (Koch) Hart on 8/11/1938 in Hamilton, MT. He attended grade school in Corvallis and Anaconda, and Anaconda Senior High School. Don enlisted in the Air Force with friends Pat Zier and Kay Keele on the "Buddy System."
After meeting Kathy Longfellow on New Year’s Eve 1959, they eloped in Philipsburg in May 1960. Together they had four children: Sandy, Kevin, Donna, and Mike.
Don retired from Meadow Gold Dairy as a Teamster after 36 years of delivering dairy products to local area homes, businesses and schools. He was a longtime member of the Elks Lodge B.P.O.E. #239, and a founding member of the West Valley Volunteer Fire Dept.
Family was very important to Don. He taught his children and grandchildren the importance of working hard, playing hard, and being independent. He enjoyed every season in Montana; from family wood-getting, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, and riding motorbikes. He loved the challenge of getting to a mountain lake on his Honda 90 or the "snow machine" with his long-time friend Billy Puccinelli. He loved sharing "used to" stories of his adventures.
He loved teaching his grandchildren the right way (Don's way) of doing everything from tying their shoes, packing for a hike, to wood gathering. His mottos were: "better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it," and "stupid hurts!" His grandsons always laugh and joke about "grampa Don's boot camp."
Don's constant companion Tippy will miss their daily routine of getting the paper and treat times.
Don is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years Kathy Hart, daughter Sandy (Les) Frank, daughter Donna (Dale) Miller, son Mike (Laura) Hart; grandsons Matthew (Ashley) Frank, Nick (Nicki) Miller, Peter Hart; granddaughters Katie (Jake) Magnus and Nicole (Matt) Bellon; great grandchildren Kaitlyn Frank, Dylan Smith, Scott Frank, Sophie Magnus, Piper Magnus, Everly Hart, Selika McGlynn, Payton McGIynn, Kaydon Strutzel, Mayson Strutzel and Abby Bellon.
He is preceded in death by his parents Pete and Margie Hart, parents-in-law Sally and Tiny Longfellow and grandson Jonathan Frank.
"That's all I got."
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 5705 Grant Creek, Missoula, MT 59808 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at the Longfellow Finnegan Funeral Chapel on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. There will be one hour of visitation prior to the service.