Thomas Ray Lakey, 80, passed away peacefully on Oct. 13, 2021, at Peace Hospice in Great Falls, Mont., surrounded by his loving family. Memorial services were held Monday, Oct. 18, at Whitlash Church.
Tom was born on March 14, 1941, in Chester, Mont., to Troy and Lucy Lakey. Tom grew up in the Sweet Grass Hills on the family ranch with his parents and sister, Betty. He attended high school in Chester where he “went in the front door and out the back” as he put it.
On Jan. 12, 1960, he married his first wife, Mary Morman, in Shelby, Mont. From that marriage they had two daughters, Terry Lynn and Juley Ann. In 1969, by the grace of God and the 12 steps of AA, Tom found sobriety. He married his wife of 50 years, Katherine “Kathy” Waite, on Dec. 12, 1970, in Whitlash. They had a son and daughter, Thomas Troy and Lynn Ann.
Tom continued to pursue his various interests, including becoming an accomplished pilot at the age of 35. Tom had various jobs throughout his life. He drove school bus from Whitlash to Chester from 1968-1976. Tom bought the Tiber Tractor in 1971. After that he went to work for the Elenburg Manufacturing in Havre, Mont., where he supervised the building of the manufacturing plant for the rotary drilling rigs. When the company closed, Tom became the equipment manager for Greytak Farms in Billings, Mont.
In 1986 Tom bought his first semi-truck and started Lakey Trucking. He leased to Transystems, and later to Industrial Transfer and Storage, until circumstances and health issues forced him to hang up the keys in 1999. He spent the next few years working for his neighbor at AAA Construction. Tom then went to work at PTI, transporting railroad crews across Montana and North Dakota, which allowed him to make the most of his love for driving and chatting with people.
Tom retired at the age of 79 due to his health issues. He spent the last few years living with his daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Dustin, and three of his grandchildren.
In his youth, Tom’s interests were ranching, auto mechanics and music, including playing drums in a band. As the years passed, Tom’s interests grew into passions and he could be found fixing up an old car, admiring tractors or attending the rodeo. Tom looked forward to family gatherings, stock car races, and traveling. There was always a chance you could catch him watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies.
True to his cowboy roots, Tom always dressed as a gentleman, donning his western attire. Tom never met a stranger and could entertain all with his quirky sense of humor and stories. Tom will always be remembered for his unconditional love for his family.
Tom is survived by his wife, Katherine “Kathy”, of Great Falls; daughter, Terry Stone, of California, daughter, Juley Lakey of Great Falls, Mont.; son, Tom (Corinna) Lakey of Great Falls; and daughter Lynn (Dustin) Deiter, also of Great Falls; 11 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Troy and Lucy Lakey; his sister, Betty Zorn; and his grandson, Troy Vick.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the many health care professionals who contributed to Tom’s care and comfort in the last few years of his life, including the amazing staff at Benefis Peace Hospice of Montana. Also, very special thanks to our cousin and Tom’s niece, Becky Cunningham, for all the support and help through this time.
Condolences can be made to Tom’s memorial page at www.asperfh.com.