On April 7, 2023, Richard “Rick” Allen Barger passed away peacefully
after a brief stay at Peace Hospice in Great Falls.
Dad took his final fishing trip to the big blue pond in the sky on Friday
evening with his family gathered around him, enjoying food and drinks,
sharing his stories of time spent in the outdoors, fishing, hunting, and
family camping trips.
Rick was born in Shelby, MT on April 25, 1948, to Howard and Elaine,
“Brownie” Barger and was the third of five children. He attended Shelby
primary schools but moved to Las Vegas with his family where he
attended secondary school until he joined the Navy at age 16. After the
Navy, he moved back to Shelby. At the car wash in 1969, he met his first
wife, Linda. They had three wonderful children. He met his second wife
Mary Kay at the Shelby Fair, and they married in 1978. He spent the next
couple of decades working various jobs as a self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-
trades. Many of his projects still exist in various establishments around
In his later years he continued woodworking. He whittled and carved
wood, made toy trucks and cars, furniture, and repaired furniture. He was
known by his daughter-in-law as “The Great Tinkerer.” He could fix almost
anything using things he had available. Rick loved rummage sales,
auctions, and finding unique treasures.
He spent many days fishing at Fox Creek, ice fishing at Shel-oole, and
trolling around Tiber. His grandson referred to him as “a badass grandpa”
as they shared days fishing, with opportunities to drive his boat “Past
Dew,” his three-wheeler, and offered an all-you-can-eat menu of sodee-
pop, potato chips, chocolate donuts, candy bars, and chocolate milk.
In his final days, when Rick was asked how he wanted his health care
treatment to be administered, his eyebrows raised, his eyes twinkled and
a toothy grin grew across his face, “with a smile,” he replied.
He was preceded in death by brother, Larry; parents; and sister, Jan. He
is survived by his daughter, Richelle (Eric) of Aberdeen, WA; and sons,
John (Christina) of Fitchburg MA and Chad (Kelsey) of Great Falls, MT;
their half-sister, Carlin (Lou); brothers, Cliff (Diane) of Burley, ID and Tom
(Bonnie) of Arlee, MT; grandchildren, Lutra, Lucas, Cooper, and Chloe;
and numerous nieces and nephews and Kitty-kitty who still keeps an eye
on his home in Shelby thanks to his neighbor, Delores. The gates are
closed, and Rick has “gone fishin’.”
A celebration of life and a few days of fishing will be held the weekend of
July 22 for family and friends on the Missouri River.
Condolences for the family may be shared online at
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