David James Fitzpatrick, 85, passed peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in St. Charles, Mo.
Per David’s wishes there won’t be any services. His ashes will now join his late wife’s and be spread at a later date high atop a hill overlooking the Dry Fork, with the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Dave was born in Conrad to Jim and Lillian Fitzpatrick, on his mother’s birthday, April 23, 1937. Raised on the family farm east of Dupuyer, Mont., he and his two older brothers, Gary and Vernon, attended a one room school house often helping their neighboring cousins get to school with a horse and buggy.
The family moved to Valier when Dave’s father’s side business of helping to repair farm equipment for neighbors took off. That was the beginning of the family business, Fitz Repair. David continued school in Valier, graduating High School in 1956.
In the fall of 1958 Dave joined the military, where he attended the Army Transportation School and earned his proficiency in Reconnaissance Helicopter and Airframe Repair in Fort Eustis, Virginia. While stationed in Fort Benning, Ga., as part of the 507th Transportation Detachment, his welding skills were put to use mounting machine guns on helicopters for the first time in history. Dave was honorably discharged Oct. 31, 1964.
Returning to Valier, Dave found the love of his life, Clarice Swanson. They married in September in Conrad, Mont. where they raised their two daughters, Doreen and Tammy. Dave worked a variety of jobs, from the Biochemical plant, John Deere, truck driving, setting dynamite for Tiber Dam and opening the Bottom Step teen center. In 1970 Dave joined the maintenance staff at St. Mary’s Hospital and continued to the newly opened Pondera Medical Center Hospital. While working at PMC he earned his 1st Class Boiler Engineer license. In 1984 Dave and Clarice moved to their cabin in Coram, where Dave continued his work at the Kalispell Regional Hospital and had his part time business of sharpening saw blades and repairing boat props.
Upon retirement in 1997, he and Clarice moved back to Valier into Dave’s boyhood home, moving later to the farm homestead where Clarice was raised. Having celebrated 52 years of marriage, his wife Clarice passed. With his own health issues, Dave moved to Conrad and later to Missouri where he was able to spend his final years close to youngest daughter, living on his own in a friendly neighborhood.
Many of you will remember David was a tinkerer who could fix anything, but he was also an accomplished artist leaving behind many cherished paintings. He loved to hunt and fish, but always reminded everyone that it was actually his wife who caught the most fish. He loved music, working on playing the guitar but would always default back to his harmonica. He loved his family, and was so grateful they allowed him to do things on his own terms.
David is survived by his two daughters; Doreen (Robert) Lightner of Valier and Tammy Fitzpatrick of St. Charles, Mo.; his brother-in-law Don (Verna) Swanson of Kodiak, Alaska; and numerous nieces and nephews.