Julia June Chitwood Trees

Thursday, August 23, 2018
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            Julia June Trees

July 18, 1920 — Aug. 11, 2018

Julia June Chitwood Trees began her adventurous life at Soda Creek, British Columbia, July 18, 1920, delivered in the home of her parents, Josephine and Walter Chit-wood, by a midwife from a nearby Indian tribe.

“Josie” and “Chick” Chit-wood had migrated to Canada from Stillwater County, Mont. where they had homesteaded. After living in Washington and Indiana, they returned to Absarokee, Mont., in 1929.

June graduated from Absarokee High School in 1938 and Eastern Montana Normal School in Billings in 1940. After teaching two years at Grove Creek School, June married Verle “Happy” Trees on May 28, 1942, while he was serving in the United States Army during World War II. They became the parents of four sons: Dennis, twins Richard and Ronald, and David.

With Hap employed at the Fishtail General Store, they bought a small ranch in 1958 in the Grove Creek area. In 1961, June returned to teaching with the help and encouragement of her husband, her four sons, her mother, and her brothers. Under the care and direction of chief cook and bottle washer, Hap Trees, her four sons became great chore-boys and housekeepers, enabling June to finish her bachelors and a graduate degree.

She taught nearly 25 years at local schools including Grove Creek, Mouat Mine, Bridger Creek, Kent School, Luther, Limestone, and Columbus, retiring in 1982. She loved teaching and felt privileged to have helped so many grade school children in their education.

June and Hap ranched, raised gardens, became bee keepers, played pinochle, bought an RV and traveled, participated in community volunteer work, were active in the Congregational Church, built a new home in 1978, and helped care for relatives.

June was an excellent cook, having learned from some of the area’s old time kitchen matrons, and knew all the skills of pioneer cooking and food preparation. If you came to visit, there was always coffee and cookies on the table or a full meal.

June and Hap were ardent supporters of the VFW and June participated in traditional Memorial Day activities for over six decades. June was also a member of the county Democratic Party and ran for office in the Montana Legislature after she retired.

With a sharp memory for names, dates, details, and who was related to who and how, in her later years June was a living encyclopedia of southern Stillwater County history. She was a founding member of the Stillwater Historical Society and helped build the Museum of the Beartooths. She compiled and published a directory of graves in the Rosebud and Nye Cemeteries, aided by her intimate knowledge of the early settlers buried there.

In retirement June worked extensively on family genealogies, writing a history of the Chitwood family and stories about raising her own family. June wrote a history of the old Jay Hotel in Absarokee, and a memoir of her experiences on the Home Front during WWII, titled “Till We Meet Again.”

June Trees passed away at age 98 on Aug. 11, 2018, while living at Shipps Assisted Living in Absarokee.

She was preceded in death by her husband Verle, in 1993, and her four siblings, Josephine Beth Chitwood, Jean Bolin Clifford, Walter Chitwood Jr., and Richard Chitwood. Survivors include sons Dennis (Roxanne) of Seattle, Richard (Carol) of Absarokee, Ronald (Joyce) of Fishtail, and David (Connie) of Seattle; 11 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

Thanks to Shipps, Hospice, and others for all your care and support.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. at Smith Funeral Chapel in Columbus with interment at Rosebud Cemetery.