Tony GeisAnthony Felix Geis died on August 15, 2019 after 95 years and 8 months of living. He was at home, with his wife, and was lucid and mobile until his final day. He was tired.
Tony was born on December 16, 1923 to Elizabeth (Porter) Geis and William Geis (died in 1934), in Webster South Dakota. He was the third of four children with two older sisters and a younger brother. He attended St. Otto’s Parochial School and Day County High School, graduating in 1941.
In 1941 the family moved from South Dakota to a new home in North Hollywood California. Surrounded by orange groves and agricultural fields. Tony and his brother Luke returned to South Dakota, leaving their mom and sisters in California, so Luke could finish high school. The next summer the brothers hitchhiked to their uncle’s in Oklahoma to work with him on his threshing crew. They returned to California in the fall to spend the winter with the rest of the family.
In 1943, after another summer working the wheat harvest, Tony enlisted in the navy. Because of his rural/agricultural background he was assigned to the newly formed Naval Construction Battalion that became the SeaBees. He was eventually stationed on Tinian and was involved in the construction of the airfields from which The Enola Gay departed. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and his WW2 service remained a point of pride throughout his life.
From 1947 through 1953 Tony attended Montana State University, (in Missoula), earning a Bachelor’s in Forestry and a Master’s in Range Management. He spent his summers working as a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone, and one season in the newly created Everglades NP. He made lifelong friendships during these years and his park experience was a period that he always recalled, and recounted as special.
Tony met his future wife, Mary Edith Barraclough, while they were both doing research at the MSU Biological Station on Wood’s Bay on Flathead Lake. They were married in August of 1954 in Missoula. Tony and Mary moved to Bozeman in 1956 where he started his final job working for The Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, (ASCS/USDA), as the Montana State Program Specialist. In this position he travelled the state advising agriculturists on the methods and means of preserving, and improving their soil and land. He held this position until his retirement in 1981.
In 1964 Tony and Mary travelled to Santiago Chile where they adopted their two children, Lisa, (Elizabeth), and John. In 1971 the Geises moved to Kelly Canyon where Tony would eventually retire. He enjoyed gardening and raised a good part of the family’s vegetable supply. On his “hobby Farm” he kept bees, raised chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, dogs, cats, and the occasional horse over the years. In retirement he was involved in various clubs and organizations. He especially enjoyed volunteering as the bookkeeper for the Fort Ellis RFD for 20 years, and delivering meals on wheels “to the elderly” until he was 85.
Dad led a good life and was able to engage in the things he enjoyed, on some level, until his last days. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary, his daughter Lisa Vick (Gary and daughters Shelby and Shayla), of Philomath OR, his son John of Bozeman, grandson Monty Holliday (Gabbie, Beau, and Kinzie) of Clyde Park, and assorted nieces and nephews.
He told me he had had a good run no matter what, and I agree. (Funeral services have already taken place).