Helbert

July 30, 1941 – Sept. 2, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
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Thomas Helbert 

Thomas Cornelius Helbert passed away at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings on the afternoon of Sept. 2, 2020, due to unforeseen complications from outpatient back surgery after a fall outside his home.

While Tom’s passing was unexpected, his family and friends will forever cherish his sense of humor, generosity and colorful personality. Anyone lucky enough to have spent time with Tom could agree that he was truly one of a kind.

Tom was born the oldest of three boys to Paul and Glenna Helbert on July 30, 1941, in rural Ashland, Ohio. Tommy, Billy, and Gary Lee spent their boyhood years on the family dairy farm enjoying their own balance of work, play, and mischief.

Tom first honed his shooting aim as a boy thinning out pests on the farm. Later on, hunting pheasants, foxes, and rabbits with his dad and brothers were treasured times from his youth. His skill with and knowledge of firearms, particularly shotguns, would become a lifelong passion.

Tom also enjoyed going off and spending time in the woods. Many a woodland creature would spend time in Tom’s care as a pet during these early years. Few can claim a list of pets as extensive as Tom’s, and he shared this love for animals with his family by making sure they were never lacking for interesting animal friends.

He attended school in Hayesville and greatly enjoyed spending time with his friends and classmates. In high school, he was known for the hill-climbing prowess of his Model A Ford pickup.

After graduating from Hayesville in 1959, Tom began working as a machinist at HyCo in Ashland. Tom would enjoy years as an independent truck driver, an inspector for Flxible Corporation in Loudonville, and a machinist at American Augers in West Salem before retiring in 2003.

On June 26, 1964 he married Janet Strang, whom he always spoke of as having known since the first day of the first grade. After a decade of fun-loving years together, Tom and Janet were blessed with their children, Heidi and Jess. He loved them all dearly.

Tom, in dutiful dad fashion, made sure that both Heidi and Jess could shoot before they could write their names, became an expert in Looney Tunes, and he never missed an opportunity to entertain his kids with tales of croc-agators, or warn them of the “dangers” of cats with curved whiskers.

With fun nicknames, mornings spent feeding bucket calves and days spent doing farm work or shooting guns, ride-alongs in the semi truck, frequent summer campouts, pet chipmunks and a groundhog in addition to many dogs and cats, and family vacations where friends were allowed to come along to Montana, Tom made sure that Jess and Heidi’s years at home were always educational and entertaining.

Turkey shoots would later become a family affair with Tom, Janet, and the kids all frequently demonstrating their skills with much success. Fourth of July barbecues became highlights of the summer for family and friends as Tom perfected his smoked brisket recipe.

Tom also never outgrew his enjoyment of mischief and pranks. One of his most remembered exploits was passing off pieces of chocolate-covered herring as Janet’s wonderful Valentine’s Day candy to his unsuspecting victims.

Tom was also blessed with a quiet generosity that he selflessly shared with others.

From thoughtful gifts and flowers for family during the holidays and special occasions, to gifted loads of firewood for neighbors needing a helping hand, Tom understood the impact of a caring moment and made the most of them.

Tom and Janet retired to the mountains near Nye, Mont., in 2003. They quickly became known throughout the community and enjoyed spending time with family and friends.

Tom is survived by his children Heidi (Tim) and Jess (Penny), and grandchildren Justin, Jaylin, Henry and Luke.

Family in Ohio includes his brother Bill (Sharlene) Helbert; sister-in-law Shirley Helbert; Sisters-in-law Carol Garling and Eleanor (John) Leininger, and many nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife Janet in June, his parents, brother Gary Helbert this past February; mother-in-law and father-in-law Wavelene and John Strang; brother-in-law Ivan Strang; brother-in-law Ray Garling; sister-in-law Jeanette Helbert; son-in-law Adam Viers; nieces Joy Newell and Molly Helbert, and grand-nephew Logan Busch.

Funeral services will be Thursday, Sept. 10 at the Nye Community Church at 11 a.m.. with burial to follow at the Nye Cemetery. Calling hours and visitation with the family will begin at 10 a.m. prior to the service. A brisket lunch at the church will follow the graveside service. The Nye Community Church will offer a livestream of the service and a link to a recording on their Facebook page.

For those wishing to attend in person, please wear masks as requested by the Nye-Church community and local health officials.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed in support of the Montana Association for the Blind, PO Box 465, Helena, MT 59624.