W. Lois (Smith) Lonnquist, 78, passed away on Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Helena. She was born to Leonard and Stella (Fisher) Smith in Spokane, Wash., May 30, 1935, and lived most of her life in eastern and western Montana and the Midwest.
She earned a BA in English at UW-LaCrosse. Her career in media spanned freelance writing, radio, television and newspaper, including 13 years at the Helena Independent Record. She is the author of "Fifty Cents an Hour," a history of the builders and boomtowns of the Fort Peck Dam described in "LIFE 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE" as "authoritative."
She devoted her life to her beloved family and her writing. She shared her musical talents by playing for hundreds of dances and events as a teenager; and programs, dances, shows and radio and TV programs with her husband, Del, and later with their children in the Lonnquist Family Band.
Following the publication of "Fifty Cents an Hour," she wrote a musical presentation based on the book which she and Del performed throughout Montana. She was an active member of the Lutheran church, her children's schools, and the communities where she lived.
She was preceded in death by her parents; a sister, Lucille (Smith) Massick; a son-in-law, Bruce Darelius; four sisters-in-law, Violet, Ethel, Margaret and Jerry; and five brothers-in-law, Norman, Evald and Harold Lonnquist, Don Tanner and George Massick.
Survivors include her husband, Del; two sons, Allen Lonnquist and his wife, Pam, and Roger Lonnquist and his wife, Janice; four daughters, Linda Darelius, Diana Sacramento and her husband, Ilidio, Janis Klebig and her husband, Mike, and Joni Rodgers and her husband, Gary; 19 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; a brother, Stanley Smith; two brothers-in-law, Dean Lonnquist and Vernon Petersen; three sisters-in-law, Vivian, Florence and Beverly; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Cremation has taken place. A private memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Valley County Pioneer Museum, 816 Hwy 2, Glasgow, MT 59230 or the Montana State Historical Society, PO Box 201201; Helena, MT 59620-1201.
Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence or to share a memory of Lois.
Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home of Helena was in charge of arrangements.