Gene Francis Huckstadt
3/15/37 – 11/7/22
Gene Huckstadt, 85, of Hamilton passed into the loving arms of his Lord Monday, November 7, 2022, at St. Patrick Hospital/ Heart Institute in Missoula.
Gene was born to Otto Caleson and Velma Ruth (McKenzie) Huckstadt in Costa Mesa, California. He spent his youth in the San Diego area, where he graduated from high school in 1955. Gene began a life of entrepreneurship and eventually owned a cabinet manufacturing firm, a redwood furniture company and a lumberyard. He and his first wife Patricia had two children, Crystal Dawn Cruz and Starla Gade.
Gene found the Bitterroot Valley by way of hunting with several outfitters, John Crump and Mike Nichols, to name two that became good friends. In 1973, Gene made the decision to get out of the big city and raise his children in an atmosphere of fresh air and clean water. He and wife Donna settled in Darby, raising cattle on his acreage four miles north of town.The couple had two children, Randy Huckstadt and Michelle Huckstadt; the marriage ended in divorce. Gene realized cattle ranching was not for him and built the Cedars Lounge and the Shop ‘n Go, Hamilton’s first convenience store, on Golf Course Road and Highway 93.
In 1985, Gene met the love of his life, Rose Veien Stanton. Gene and Rosie spent some of the first years of their marriage traveling the country in their beloved motorhome visiting friends and family.
Gene and Rosie Huckstadt were married by a friend of Gene’s who was a judge in Eskridge, Kansas. They were married again two weeks later on the beach at South Padre Island, by a dear friend who was a Baptist pastor. The couple made their home in Darby, where they partnered on a series of downtown revitalization projects and opened a long list of businesses. Gene and Rosie moved to Hamilton in 2005.
Gene loved building with wood, and especially cedar; his buildings in Darby and Hamilton are a testament to that love. He pioneered the rebuilding of the Darby Community Clubhouse and started both the Darby Civic Group and Darby Action Group. Gene took pride in building and keeping beautiful properties and continued to improve his community with things like the Welcome to Darby signs on each end of town. He went on to open the Old West Gallery, Gifts and Antiques, Darby Mini Storage, Old West Steakhouse, the Old West Candy Store. At the same time, Gene served as a board member of many clubs and organizations in the area.
Gene retired four times, but he never stopped working. After Gene and Rosie retired from the Old West complex, he moved his office across the street where he managed his Old West Rentals and Darby Mini-Storage. Gene continued to drive to his Darby office six days a week and loved working with his clients and meeting with people.
Gene was a driven man, always working, creating, thinking and achieving. He conquered his goals. For the last thirty years of his life his focus was on beautifying and helping Darby become a tourist destination where people could enjoy the southern part of the Bitterroot Valley. He truly left his community better than he found it.
Gene was preceded in death by his daughters Crystal Cruz and Starla Gade. He is survived by his wife Rosie of 35 years, her children Angela Stanton, David Stanton Jr., grandchildren Jackson Olson and Tylin Olson; daughter Michelle Huckstadt, grandchildren Jade and Hailey; son Randy Huckstadt (RaeAnne), granddaughter Alicia Pederson (Brad) and great granddaughters Clara and Hope Pederson. He is also survived by his sister Barbara Huckstadt House, nieces Tammy Tabeek (Paul) and Kim House (Shawn). In addition to his family, Gene was also survived by his best friend Tigger, a rescue cat who walked in the door last January and took over his home and his heart, bringing much joy.
The family requests your presence for Gene’s Funeral Service at 11:00 a.m., Friday, November 18, 2022, at the Assembly of God Church, 601 W. Main, St., Hamilton, MT. The ladies of the Assembly of God are putting on a luncheon following in the fellowship hall of the church, please bring stories and love to share. Interment will take place at 2:00 p.m., in the Lone Pine Cemetery, Darby, MT. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com
Gene's service can be livestreamed at www.hamiltonag.org or the Hamilton Assembly of God Facebook page.