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Jay Allen Aaberge

Jay Allen Aaberge, age 66, of St. Marie, Mont., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.

Following our dad's wishes, we will not be holding a formal service and he is being cremated (well, if we followed his wishes precisely, we'd just throw his body to the wolves, so we did have to make SOME concessions!).

Jay, or "Pa" as he was known to many, was born on July 31, 1957, in Conrad, Mont., to Kenneth and Ethel Aaberge. While he grew up on the Hi-Line of Montana, he transferred to Libby, Mont., his senior year of high school, where he earned the nickname "Coyote" after the Shelby High School mascot.

While working construction in Ulm, Mont., Jay met and married Sharon (Young) Carlson in 1979. He not only became a husband but also a dad to her two-year-old daughter, Brandie. They would go on to have two more children, Jeremy and Byron, and Jay loved all three of his kids so much. While the couple divorced in 1997, they were still family.

Once the kids started school, Jay hung up his hard hat for a job delivering propane back in his old stomping grounds in Shelby. He would continue working as a propane driver in Kalispell, Mont., followed by a promotion and transfer to Eureka, Mont.

Although he was a Montanan much of his life, Jay did spend several years in Alaska in the early 2000s, where he was a summer "bear camp" guide. He loved telling his family back in Montana about the different bears who resided in that area and had a tendency to forget that just because it was still light outside in Alaska didn't mean that it wasn't often after midnight when he would call! Jay's return to Montana led him to St. Marie to be close to his sons, where he worked as a foreman at the stockyards doing a little bit of everything. He was the one everyone called on when something was broken.

Jay was always a Jack of all trades. He believed in fixing or building everything himself, from house repairs to replacing an engine in his truck. He never cared a lot about possessions, and would patch, repair, build, and reuse as many things as he could. He was always tinkering with something. One of his favorite things to do in his spare time was leatherwork, and he made everything from knife sheaths to the buckskin pants he wore for black powder gun competitions (which he won several times).

Jay was an avid outdoorsman who took every opportunity he could to explore our state. He dedicated countless hours fishing, hunting, bow hunting, and camping, and everyone close to him spent time doing at least one of these things with him. Jay could talk to anyone, and he was always happy to welcome friends and family into his home. He'd throw some steaks and burgers on the grill, drink some beer, and BS for hours.

Jay is preceded in death by his dad Kenneth Aaberge and mom Ethel Aaberge.

He is survived by his daughter Brandie Terpe and sons Jeremy Aaberge and Byron (Lorrie) Aaberge; grandchildren Ilah Edwards, Isolde Aaberge and Gabriel Terpe; brother Claude Aaberge and sisters Helen Cady and Wanda Aaberge; and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, and lifelong buddies.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Montana Wildlife Federation at montanawildlife.org.

"Oh, the last goodbye's the hardest one to say, and this is where the cowboy rides away." George Straight

 

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