top of page



"Tonight, as the shades of darkness draw quietly about the slopes of snow-capped Mt. Powell, the cloud-haloed sentinel of the Deer Lodge Valley -- they will hide within their gentle fold all that is mortal of two of Montana's most beloved pioneers -- Mr. and Mrs. Frank Conley -- each of whom answered the last call since the first snows of the last winter.

At 11 0'clock this morning an airplane carrying two urns of ashes from the Great Falls crematory, will take off from that city in route to the homeland of the deceased couple. The ship will drop down at Butte where it will take aboard two daughters of the Conley's and a few close friends. Leaving Butte the large skyliner will head into the Northwest. It will dip gently over the city of Deer Lodge, then bank into the West to circle Mount Powell.

And up there somewhere about where the clouds kiss the mountain top, the giant motors will be throttled down for a brief moment while the urns are emptied over the side of the ship and ashes of the two pioneers consigned to eternal nature. Far below will be seen the landmarks of the Conley ranch, where the family spent so many happy years, and not so far beyond, the enchanting blue waters of the Conley Lake, where the former trailblazer spent his spare hours with reel and rod; boat, gun and dog.

The ceremony is one that was especially requested by Mr. Conley more than two years ago during a motor ride to his ranch in company with Art Kelly, division traffic manager for Western Air Express and other friends. "When I die" Conley said to Kelly, "I want you to do me a last favor."

"Sure, what is it?" asked the Airline executive.

"Crank up one of your sky doodlebugs and scatter my ashes over this mountain you see ahead." And then, thoughtfully he added "and do the same for my wife."

At the time of this conversation, Mr. Conley was playing host to a group of friends as he and his wife had so often done in the past.

Mr. Kelly promised that his wish would be carried out.

A year later, on the death of Mrs. Conley, Mr. Kelly called up and asked if he should carry out the first half of the bargain.

"No, hold a spell" replied Conley. "I'll be with her inside of two months."

True enough, about two months later Mr. Conley became ill. He came to Butte and entered Murray hospital. His friend Kelly called to see him a few days before he died. "Don't forget your promise" said the grizzled old veteran who was headed for the last roundup.

And today the promise will be kept. The plane that brings his ashes from Great Falls will be in charge of A. W. Stephenson, pioneer pilot since the autumn of 1928. Also on the plane will be Miss Loye Harmon, stewardess of Los Angeles and Traffic Manager Art Kelly. Boarding the plane in Butte will be two of Conley Daughters -- Hilda and Helen and a few close friends from Butte and Deer Lodge.

The history of Frank Conley is the history of Montana. Stage hand, range rider, Indian fighter, deputy sheriff and Warden of the State Penitentiary. His exploits constitute one of the colorful chapters in the winning of the west. Big in mind as he was in stature, jovial, generous to a fault and brave as a lion -- his name in Montana is as imperishable as the mountain he loved."


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page