Troy Clifford Helmick

TOWNSEND, MONT. — Troy Clifford Helmick, 84 of Townsend Montana passed away on Feb. 20, 2018 at home with members of his family after a heartbreaking battle with cancer. He was born on Aug. 31, 1933 to Kathleen Riggleman and Creed Helmick in Frenchton, W.Va. but spent his adult life in Montana.

Troy was self-reliant, hard-working, patriotic and civic-minded. As a young man, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force only to have his dreams cut short by a medical discharge due to a congenital foot deformity. Following that setback, he moved to Montana where he lived an active and physically-demanding life.

He began his career on a survey crew with the Bureau of Reclamation and later transferred to the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a civil engineer technician. He had a wide variety of interests and roles including volunteer fireman, historian, archeologist, flintknapper, artist, photographer, athlete, sportsman, father and husband. He was loved and respected by all who knew him and will be remembered for his soft spoken nature, friendly demeanor and dry wit. 

Troy met Shirley Jean Doty in her hometown of Three Forks, Mont. Following a long-distance romance and hundreds of miles of hitchhiking across frozen landscapes, he and Shirley were married on Jan. 17, 1954. The couple spent their first years in Box Elder and Tiber Dam along the Montana Hi-Line before Troy was transferred to Canyon Ferry where he worked on a project to bring irrigation water from the Missouri River to the Helena Valley.

In 1960, Troy moved his family to Townsend and landed a position with the SCS. During the winter months, he was charged with conducting Snow Surveys of the upper reaches of major watersheds. There he was witness to some of the most pristine scenery Montana has to offer.

Among Troy’s many accomplishments in service organizations are: Past Commander, American Legion Post 42; founding member of the Crimson Bluffs Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation; Townsend Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee original member; Old Baldy Golf Course past president; and World Atlatl Association past president.

Troy aggressively supported competitive sports, both traditional and non-traditional. He pioneered efforts to promote the atlatl, an ancient hunting weapon used throughout North America. He helped stage atlatl competitions in several states where he and family members won many trophies. Fast-pitch softball was another area where Troy competed in and won state championships. He once performed as catcher for nationally renowned exhibition softball pitcher, Eddie Feigner. In support of local sports in Townsend, Troy helped plan and build parks and recreation areas. One of the most ambitious projects was designing the Old Baldy Gold Course and transforming barren landscape into the beautiful tree-lined course enjoyed today by young and old. 

In 2002, the governor presented a personal award in recognition of Troy’s work in Archeology. He participated in archeological or historical field work in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch and at the site of the Mann Gulch Fire. His artwork and articles were published in nationally recognized journals and he donated a personal collection of over 6,000 artifacts to the Bureau of Land Management’s Billings Curator Center.

Troy and Shirley’s contributions to local and state history are evident in exhibits and artifacts on display in the Broadwater County Historical Museum, the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman and even the Thunderbird Museum at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Another of Troy’s creations is on display in the capitol city — A pen and ink sketch he donated to the Montana Historical Society.  It hangs in the old Governor’s Mansion in a room dedicated to his daughter Char. 

Troy was proceeded in death by brothers Doy Helmick of Wilmington, Del. and Kenny Helmick, of Phoenix, Ariz. and by daughter Char Pentecost of Helena, Mont.  He is survived by his wife Shirley, brother Lynn (and Chris) Helmick, Buckhannon, sister Ann Crawford, Frenchton, sister Joan (and Ken) Palmer, Aurora, Colo., and by his children Rhonda Helmick, Buckhannon, W.Va., Brent (and Lydia) Helmick, Marina, Calif., Leslie (and Joe) Owen, Buckhannon, W.Va., Dean (and Pamela) Helmick, Plattsmouth Neb., and Coleene (and Jon) Rychalski, Alexandria Va. Troy had 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren at the time of his passing.

Public viewing and visitation will be at Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home in Townsend, Mont. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 2Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. The family will receive friends there from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be a rosary at Holy Cross Parish in Townsend on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m. ending with military honors and a luncheon in the Catholic church basement. The body will be cremated with interment at Fort Harrison Cemetery, Helena Mont. at a later date.


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