The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

Raymond 'Ray' Duane Thares


Raymond "Ray" Duane Thares, 69, passed away peacefully after a brave battle with cancer on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in his home with family by his side. Known to friends and family as Papa Ray or Big Papa, he will be remembered for his bright smile, enormous heart and quick wit.

The family will receive friends from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12, at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. in Helena. A vigil service will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, at Saint Mary Catholic Community, 1700 Missoula Ave. in Helena. Immediately following the Vigil Service, a reception with Military Honors will take place at FoxRidge Golf Course, 4020 Lake Helena Dr.

He was born May 4, 1947, in Great Falls, Mont., the only child of Joe and Earlene Thares. His parents worked for Mountain Bell, and as a child and into his teens, he lived in Great Falls, Missoula, Butte and Helena. He was meek and mild in his early years and was bullied by other kids.

His dad introduced him to boxing, and he decided he liked to fight and had a talent for it. He became somewhat of a rebel. When he was 17, he rode a motorcycle down the halls of Helena High and put a cigarette out on the principal's desk. Shortly thereafter, he was on his way to the Navy. During boot camp, all he could think about was having his mommy back, but the fight in him (and a bit of stubbornness) got him through. He became a radar tech in the Navy and travelled with the Naval Boxing Team. He served in the Vietnam War.

After an Honorable Discharge from the Navy, he returned to Helena. He began his career with Mountain Bell and moved to Glasgow to work. While in Glasgow, he became a father. He and his former wife, Aliene Goodwin, had two children, Raelene and Joe.

He loved hunting, fishing, golfing and the outdoors, but he mostly loved sharing his hobbies and time with family and friends. He was well known in the trap shooting circle as the Dark Horse from the North and captured many awards and titles.

While living in Glasgow, he met Debbie Sather, and she would become his best friend and the love of his life. They later married and moved to Helena, with her two children, Neven and Quin. Helena quickly became their home. They both thrived working for Mountain Bell. With their four children, they spent their time boating, camping and skiing. Summers were spent with Ray's parents enjoying their cabin at Canyon Ferry Lake. Debbie's large family quickly became Ray's, and he cherished his time with all his new brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.

With the downsizing of the phone company in 1994, he and Debbie decided they wanted to stay in Helena. They would need to embark on a new career path, and Papa Ray's was born. What better way for Ray to work and enjoy his other love, Rainier! He never imagined he would meet so many lifelong friends who would become like family and create so many memories.

In the last few years of his life, he spent his time caring for his declining parents. He was the son many could only dream of, making daily visits to sit by their side. While a difficult time, he never complained, and in fact, he valued the time he had with them.

He was a fighter his entire life, but after a year of battling cancer, this was a fight he could not win.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Earlene Thares; and his father-in-law, Ivan Zimdars.

Survivors include his wife, Debbie Thares; children Raelene Navulur and her husband, Kumar, Neven Sather and his wife, Callie, Joe Thares and his wife, Chloe, Quin Sather and his wife, Amanda; three grandchildren, Carter and Eliza Navulur and Van Sather; his mother-in-law, Helen Zimdars; extended family, Rocky Zimdars, Penny Murch and her husband, Lee, Dennis Zimdars and his wife, Diane, Lori Huff and her husband, Kevin; several nieces and nephews; and his furry buddy, Bailey, who remained at his side until the end.

Special thanks to Dr. Weiner and St. Pete's Cancer Center, St. Pete's Hospice –especially Nurse Cheryl. Also, to all our friends that helped us this last year with their prayers, thoughts and calls.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to St. Peter's Cancer Center or St. Peter's Hospice because we are blessed to have these great organizations in our community. Please visit to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Ray.


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