Retired Ravalli County Sheriff, Dale E. Dye, age 82, passed away on April 29, 2020, from an accident at home. Dale was preceded in death by his daughter Linda Dye-Howe, his granddaughter Tara Rae Bryant, his parents, Archie and Esther Dye; his siblings Jerry Dye, Ted Dye, and Betty Jean (Dye) Stahl, his brothers-in-law Daryl Stahl and Phil Pohlman. He is survived by his wife of 62 years Barbara J. Dye, his daughter Jolie Wells and her husband Don Wells and their family; granddaughter Jessica and husband Gary Gillette and their children Willo and Tyler, and daughter Bobbi Dye and her son Cameron Taylor-Dye as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins who all loved and respected the legendary small town sheriff.
Dale had an accomplished, varied, and full life that touched so many. Born at home in Hamilton in 1937 he was a proud descendant of Montana Territory settlers. He grew up trapping, hunting, and hiking throughout the Bitterroot and surrounding areas. He started dating Barb in high school and married her a couple days after she graduated. They spent their honeymoon and first three months of married life on lookout duty at Medicine Point for the Forest Service.
He was recruited and began his law enforcement career as a deputy March 21, 1960. He attended the FBI academy in Quantico, VA, in 1965, under director J. Edgar Hoover. Dale worked his way up, also serving as Under Sheriff before running and winning his first election as Sheriff at 29 years of age in 1967. He saw the office through two decades of growth and five elections. This made him the youngest sheriff in state history as well as the longest running. During this time he also served as Coroner, was a member of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, aided in the apprehension of an FBI 10 Most Wanted fugitive, created a Cadet program, headed Search and Rescue and the Sheriff’s Posse, helped create the rifle range, taught hunters safety, and the list goes on.
In 1980 Dale began teaching himself the art of bow building, creating his second career as a bowyer. His skill, artistry, and attention to detail made for a great reputation nationally and internationally, with bows in 49 states and several foreign countries.
An avid motorcyclist, later in life he took a solo trip around the US and an 8,000 mile trip with friends to Alaska, the North Pole, and the Arctic Circle.
Dale was a skilled horseman, welder, carpenter, plumber, mechanic, musician, story teller, and so much more. In his younger years he was also a talented artist working in oils, pen and ink, clay sculpture, and soap stone carving. He will be remembered for his great sense of humor, amazing memory, his unyielding ethics, and his love of family, friends, and tradition.
As per Dale’s wishes there will not be a formal funeral. Instead we will gather at his house for a toast, a tear, and maybe a laugh. Please bring a story to share. Saturday, May 16 at 2:00pm. 276 Grantsdale Rd, Hamilton.
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