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

Rebecca Marie Vinton


April 11, 2018

Rebecca "Becky" Marie (Watson) Vinton, 63, born on April 24, 1954, in Ione, Wash., went to join the Lord on Tuesday evening, April 2, 2018.

Services will be held Saturday, June 16, at 1 p.m., at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Nashua.

She was born in the local doctor's home in Ione, which also housed the medical office and hospital on the bottom floor. The doctor and his family lived on the top floor. This is how it was in this very small town. The doctor's kids even played on the stairs while Becky was being delivered.

Becky had a great childhood with lots of outdoor activities – hiking, camping, skiing, swimming and fishing at Seeley Lake. Her dad was employed by the U.S. Forest Service, so the family moved around a bit. Becky's first couple of years were at Sullivan Lake Ranger District (near Ione and Metaline Falls, Wash.), then to Great Falls for a year; followed by three years at Belt Creek Ranger District near Neihart, Mont., where her father was a district ranger. The Watson family then moved to Missoula where Becky started elementary school, at Lincoln and then Rattlesnake Elementary School in the Rattlesnake Valley. She enjoyed school and especially loved reading. She was an easy child and always happy and amicable. She was that way until the very end, even with the illness of Alzheimer's.

It was while living in Missoula, when Becky was only 8 years old, that doctors found a hole in her heart, between the two chambers, which caused her to tire easily. During the summer, when she was out of school, the family drove to Rochester, Minn., where she had surgery at the Mayo Clinic to repair this hole in her heart. This was a major surgery back then, and still is!

When Becky was 12, she moved with the family to Juneau, Alaska, where she enjoyed many outdoor sporting pursuits. Her father flew the family in to Forest Service cabins on island lakes in his lake amphibian airplane frequently during those years. Becky had an exciting flight with her dad in that plane when she was in her late teens, that she wrote about later and may have shared with friends.

When Becky was in high school, she joined the ski patrol for the Juneau-Douglas ski area (called 2nd and 3rd cabins at the time, because the ski cabins were a 2 and 3-mile hike in). She had started skiing at King's Hill (now called Showdown) near Neihart as a little girl (4 or 5 years old). Growing up, she enjoyed skiing with the family at Snow Bowl in Missoula and at other ski areas when the family would go on ski trips. The family would ski almost every weekend in the winter months, as their dad was on the Ski Patrol as well. This is how Becky developed her love of the sport and helping others. Becky was named Alaska Ski Patrol Woman of the 1971 and 1972 years, and raced in many downhill ski competitions.

Juneau's ski area, located across the salt water channel on Douglas Island, was very rustic in those days. The family hiked the 2 to 3 miles in their lace-up, leather ski boots to the 2nd and 3rd cabins – each with steep and challenging rope tows, requiring skiers to use a tow gripper to hang onto the rope tow! A Snow Cat took skiers up to these areas for a small charge, but Becky's dad would not allow the family to ride as he wanted the experience of hiking up to build character in them. He did allow them to put their skis on the Snow Cat, however. The best part was skiing all the way back down to the car at the end of the day. Becky also did some downhill ski racing at the ski area, perfecting her skills! The ski area is now in a slightly different spot, is more developed with chair lifts, and called Eaglecrest. Becky enjoyed skiing at many other ski areas as well, both in the Northwest states, Canada and Montana, of course!

Becky graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1972 and chose to go out of state to college. Because of her Montana roots, she chose Western Montana State College (what it was called at the time) in Dillon, Mont. She earned her bachelors degree in teaching in June 1976. During her time there, she skied at Maverick Mountain. She was also on the college's track team where she won several medals in cross-country and other track events.

After graduation from college, she taught in Ringling, Mont., in a one-room schoolhouse with the teacher's living quarters behind the classroom! This is where she met Frank Vinton, who had just returned to Ringling from working in northern Alaska. She and Frank were married in White Sulphur Springs, Mont., on July 25, 1977. They moved soon after to Thorne Bay, Alaska, which is located on the fourth largest island in North America – Price of Wales Island – and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Becky taught fourth and fifth grades and Frank worked for Louisiana-Pacific Logging Company. Becky and Frank did a lot of fishing in the southeast Alaska environment, as well as boating, trapping, hunting, hiking and beachcombing.

After two years, Becky and Frank returned to Montana. She taught school in Avon, Mont., up until their first daughter, Carol Lynn, was born in 1980. The family was now living in East Helena. Becky decided to stay home and opened a loving, in-home daycare, allowing her to take care of her own children and others. Becky and Frank's second daughter, Sarah Alice Vinton McNair was born in the year 1984. Becky always loved kids; and was a great mother, besides being an excellent teacher.

Becky and Frank moved to northeast Montana where she taught in Frazer. She operated a school day care so that moms could come back to high school and get their GED, after having their children. Becky also taught fourth grade, as well as several other aspects of teaching. Becky went on to get her masters degree in 2002. She enjoyed the children and made several lifelong friends with them, as well as several of the teachers she taught with.

A lot of Becky's cherished memories included traveling with her daughters and husband and often with friends. A great part of Becky's education of her children was enhanced by this travel, as it opened up the vistas of so many different opportunities in life. One of her most cherished trips was to Europe with Frank and her daughters. This was a "seat of the pants" trip, sometimes never knowing what would be on the agenda for that specific day.

She is preceded in death by one brother, Bill Watson; her parents, Jim and Betti Watson; and her father-in-law, F.C. Vinton.

She leaves behind her devoted and loving husband, Frank Vinton of Nashua, who took care of her at their home through her entire illness; two daughters, Carol Vinton Nguyen (Jim Nguyen) of Maryland and Sarah Vinton McNair (Ashton McNair) of Lolo, Mont.; two granddaughters, Emma and Charlotte Nguyen, one foster grandson; two sisters, Pat Watson Frantz (Forrest Frantz) of Sequim, Wash., and Kerry Watson of Ketchikan, Alaska; mother-in-law Clarice Vinton of White Sulphur Springs; cousins; numerous sisters and brothers-in-law; many nieces and nephews; eight exchange students who are Becky's additional "daughters; and special devoted friends, Linda Novak and Dorothy Morrison, who were close enough to be her other sisters. Becky also had so very many close friends who were there for her always, and those people will always hold a special place in the family's memories.

Becky led a very courageous 10-year journey with early onset Alzheimer's as she prepared herself, her husband, Frank, and daughters Carol and Sarah, family and great friends, for that wonderful meeting with God in Heaven that awaited her.


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