Aaron Curtis Hawkinson, age 86, from Hamilton, Montana, passed away Monday, October 4, in his home surrounded by family.
He was born August 14, 1935, in Killdeer, ND, to Emil and Faith Hawkinson. He was one of 13 siblings. He liked to say he was the youngest of the first six, and the oldest of the second six. His mother was a triplet, (Faith, Hope and Charity) and he had three sets of twin siblings.
He left school after the 8th grade to work on the family ranch. He entered the Army the same day as Elvis Presley, in March 1958. He served two years active duty and four years reserve.
After his time in the Army, he returned to North Dakota where he met and married Sharon Rose O’Brien in June 1963. They soon welcomed their son Loren, joined 10 months later by daughter Laura. In 1966, Aaron took his young family and headed west with $150 in his pocket and an old Chevy pickup. First stop was in Lolo, MT, where he secured a job at the pulp mill. He worked there three days and knew there was something better for him.
Aaron and Sharon fell in love with the Bitterroot Valley and lived in many different places until 1970, when they bought the Slaybaugh place on Sleeping Child Road. Shortly after moving, their son Lee completed the family.
In 1974, Aaron and Sharon purchased Valley Irrigation and, with a bent screwdriver and a monkey wrench, worked their new business out of the garage. With dedication and hard work, they eventually added a shop and store on their property. Until the day he died, Aaron could pass an irrigation line in a field and tell the story of when he put it in and the kind of pump it had.
Cattle and agriculture were Aaron’s joy in life. He often said the irrigation business supported his ranching habit. He loved the land, watching his calves grow and art of the sale. In his later years, with a beer in his hand, he would look over his grazing cattle and remark what a good life it was.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Sharon, in 2001, his parents and six siblings.
He is survived by sisters Patti and Mabel; brothers Clinton, Pat, Don, and Robert; his children Loren (Nerissa), Laura and Lee (Sheila); grandchildren Rene (Austin), Daidre (Rudy), Neil, Raechel (Chris) and Aaron; and great grandson Henry Aaron.
Aaron would want to express his love and appreciation to the O’Brien family, who took him in as one of their own. The family extends a heartfelt thank you to the many caregivers who made it possible for him to stay in his own home.
A memorial service will be held in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, please raise your glass and say a toast to a life well lived.
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