Lou Wayne Harwood, born May 5, 1928, to Lou Vernon and Ruth Jenkins Harwood, passed away on June 17, 2020 at the fine age of 92 years. Lou was originally named Wayne, but when he was just two weeks old and his father passed away, people started calling him Lou. Eventually, he made the change official.
Lou grew up on a ranch just outside of Willow Creek, Montana, where he played basketball and got up to regular small-town boy shenanigans. He described himself as being quite ornery. Lou ran everywhere he went. He would run to town for basketball, work hard in practice, and then run home.
By the age of 9, Lou had the responsibility of farming with his own 4-horse team. He could still tell you the names and personalities of each of the horses.
At age 17, Lou was recruited by the MSU basketball program, but he wanted to serve in the war. He needed his mother’s help to enlist at that age. She agreed to sign for him, but only if he would stay and finish that summer’s farm work first. So, on August 29, 1945, Lou enlisted in the Marines and handed down his team and farming responsibilities to his younger brother, Roy.
Lou served in the Pacific on the USS Tarawa carrier at the end of WWII and during the Korean War. He once guarded General McArthur, who was visiting their ship. Some of the guys that he served with became his lifelong friends. He loved sharing stories of their escapades and exploits. Chick Taylor and Don Zeiler were famous men his children never met, but grew up knowing.
One of Lou’s first cars was a 1942 blue Model A for which he paid $900. It was a rare car with a left-over Model B engine. He bought it from another soldier who was shipping out from Treasure Island. This car took him on a trip with his Marine buddies from California to Iowa and Nebraska before heading home to Willow Creek. It was eventually wrecked when Lou and a friend went for “a” beer in, well, a few different towns one winter afternoon. In the early morning hours he fell asleep at the wheel on the Butte Hill. No one was injured, and they hitchhiked to Whitehall, where they slept on couches in a motel lobby until morning.
Lou married Georgene Buttelman in 1953. They moved to Joliet in 1967 and lived for more than 52 years in their home down by Rock Creek.
Lou was an excellent gardener, yearly producing an abundant crop which he shared with family throughout Montana and even in California and Arizona. Lou and Georgene did all of their own work and kept their yard in meticulous shape. This spring Lou used his Covid-19 stimulus money to buy a “zero-turn” lawnmower. He liked how it worked, but admitted it made him dizzy. He was still out driving his Bobcat tractor until just a few weeks before he passed.
Lou had no use for highfalutin types. He preferred common folks and always took the side of the underdog. Speaking of dogs, Lou always said that animals were better than people. One time, he used money they’d saved for a dishwasher to buy a burro named Chiquita. Georgene often looked out at the pasture and said, “There goes my dishwasher.”
As a proud IBEW union electrician, Lou worked on building Yellowtail Dam before settling in Joliet. His handiwork could also be found in the Billings Airport, Saint Vincent Hospital, Cenex Refinery, and MSU Fieldhouse, to name a few. When his job took him out of state, he worked on projects from Maine to California.
Lou loved to watch old Westerns. He admired Audie Murphy, Randolph Scott, and of course The Duke, John Wayne. Once, on a visit to the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, CA, Lou met and visited with Roy himself.
Lou was preceded in death by daughters Paula Harwood Stene and Susan Harwood; father Lou Vernon Harwood; mother Ruth Jenkins Harwood Miller; stepfather Sol Miller; brothers Stanley Harwood and Alton Harwood; and sister Naida Allen Williams.
Survivors include his wife Georgene, Joliet, MT; son George Harwood (Casey, Tyler, Jessica, Jacob, Kaitlynn, Remi), Gilbert, AZ; daughter Ranae Harwood Parker (Doug, Coram, Canon), Billings, MT; grandson Jason Stene (Terra, Auston, Sophia), Joliet, MT; grandson Brian Stene (Zac, Zane), Ramona, CA; brother Roy Miller (Mary), Three Forks, MT; brother Faye Miller (Julie), Fairfield, CA and sister Marilyn Sohn, Vancouver, WA.
A private family burial at the Joliet cemetery is planned.