Cover photo for Orville  "Phil" Rostad 's Obituary
Orville  "Phil" Rostad  Profile Photo
1929 Orville 2023

Orville "Phil" Rostad

November 2, 1929 — April 13, 2023

Phil Rostad, 93, long-time cattleman from Martinsdale, passed away on April 13, 2023, in Bozeman.


Phil was born in Harlowton, Montana, on November 2, 1929, to Orville Peter and Pearl Virginia (nee Blevins) Rostad. The Rostads ran cattle on a ranch headquartered on the Bozeman Fork of the Musselshell River in the north end of the Crazy Mountains near Lennep. He and his sister, Barbara, went to elementary school in a bunkhouse on the ranch with the children from a neighboring ranch. For high school, he and Barb would ride their horses down to Lennep, tie up the reins and send them home, and then catch a ride on the east bound Milwaukee RR freight train to Harlowton. They’d catch a westbound freight train back to the ranch on Friday. Phil graduated from Harlowton High in 1947 and started his college career at the University of Montana in the fall of that year. At Missoula, Phil was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and picked up the nickname “Scooter”. He graduated with a business administration degree in 1951. Later that year, Phil obtained a 2nd Lieutenant’s commission in the Air Force and was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls.


In June of 1952, Phil married his college sweetheart, Ellalee “Lee” Birkett, in her hometown of Roundup. The newlyweds were soon on their way to Kyoto, Japan, where Phil was assigned as an administrator at the U.S. Army Station Hospital No. 35 during the Korean Conflict. In 1954 they returned to the family ranch. Son Phil, Jr. was born later that year and son Carl joined the family in 1956. Phil worked the ranch with his father, Orville, taking over more and more responsibility as Orville and Pearl took the opportunity to travel and enjoy the benefits of having a son come home to take over. Although Phil wished one of those responsibilities was not milking cows because he had to leave many a great party to go home to milk cows. After 20 years or so he was able to convince Pearl that the ranch could get by on store-bought milk and that his disposition would be much improved if his participation in social festivities was not cut short.


During his years as a rancher, Phil was on the Board of Directors of the Yellowstone Boy’s Ranch (now Boy’s and Girl’s Ranch), a member of the Diamond City Masonic Lodge, served on the Mountainview Medical Center Hospital Board, the Meagher County Weed Board, and was a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and a past President of the Meagher County Stockgrowers’ Association. He and Lee were avid western art collectors and rarely missed a C.M. Russell Auction in Great Falls.


Phil Jr. returned to the ranch in 1980 after college and a short career as a bank examiner.


A significant medical event in 1986 ended Phil’s ability to continue the arduous physical demands of ranching. Phil Jr. took over the ranch and several years later Phil and Lee moved to Helena and then to Bozeman where he spent his last years at the Bozeman Lodge.


Phil was preceded in death by Lee, his wife of 68 years, in March of 2020. He lost Barb in 1972, Orville in 1973, and Pearl in 1983. He is survived by his son Phil Jr. and his wife Joan, and their daughters, Julie Patten (Eli) and Whitney Rostad (Bradford Drew), and by his son Carl and his wife Nancy Luth, and their children, Caroline Mulkey (Nathan) and Sam Rostad. Phil and Lee were both blessed to meet four great-grandchildren -- Olivia and Adele Patten and Connor and Norah Mulkey.


A Celebration of Life for Phil and Lee will take place Saturday, June 10, 2023, 1:00 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Lennep (Martinsdale).




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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

Trinity Lutheran Church

, Lennep, MT 59053

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