Anthony Adam Hunthausen (Tony) was born in Anaconda, MT as the third child of Anthony Gerhardt and Edna Marie Hunthausen on Jan 25th, 1926. His older brother Ray and sister Marie welcomed him into the family. They eventually had 4 younger siblings, Jack, Edna, Art, and Jeanne. All but Edna and Jeanne have pre-deceased Tony.
Tony graduated from Anaconda HS in 1944 and, like many of his contemporaries, immediately joined the army. By Jan of 1945 he was overseas via the Queen Mary and told us often that he turned 19 in a foxhole in Germany. After crossing the Rohr River just weeks before the end of the war, he marched with his outfit in the final offensive across Germany and was actually wounded in the knee – a Purple Heart Veteran.
Tony chose not to talk about the war much for many years. When he eventually did, we understood why. Many of his memories were those that remind us of the horrors of war. While several of his family members were hunters, as dad was before the war, he chose never to shoot a gun again after he returned.
One great story he eventually told happened after the war ended when they were stationed in Biarritz, France. He and a friend decided they would take off on a train to Paris to experience the city of light just after the war ended. They were 19 years old and had just experienced things most of us can’t imagine. But Paris beckoned, and they explored for two weeks before returning to their unit. Amazingly, when they returned thinking they were in big trouble, all Tony remembers his commanding officer saying is, “Hey Hunthausen, you back here already?” They hadn’t even been missed!
The biggest story of Tony’s life involves the girl he first met in Jr. High, Harriet Wetherill. They dated some in high school and Dad would often show up to walk Harriet home from her job at the Washoe Theater.
After Tony returned from the war in 1946, he and Harriet continued to develop their relationship while she finished her nursing degree at Carroll College. In 1949 they were married in Anaconda. At the time, Tony was going to the University of MT in Missoula, finishing with a degree in business accounting in 1950. Through his early working years, they lived in Missoula, Miles City, and eventually back to Anaconda.
In 1960 Tony and Harriet moved to East Helena where they remained. In his early 40’s Tony decided to make a career change. With seven kids to care for, he went back to college at Carroll to get his degree in education. He taught junior high students in Clancy for twenty years before retiring. He loved to share his passion for history and civics and was a well-liked teacher and co-worker.
Tony was predeceased by his beautiful wife Harriet and is survived by nine children: Tony (Jan), Kathleen, Bill (Maureen), Mary (Dean), Denny (Michelle), Paula, Andy (Pam), John (Amy) and Dan (Keeley); 25 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and two more on the way.
Tony and Harriet were parishioners of Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Parish for nearly 60 years. They were active in many ministries over the years through which they made many friendships. Their faith community was a vitally important part of their lives and the parish anchored and nurtured their family life for decades.
Tony was the quintessential dedicated family man who was always “there” for us. He was a presence that never wavered, and we never doubted his commitment and love for us. Dad had a knack and appetite - even a sense of duty - for fixing things large and small. No doubt much of it was borne of the practical need to live within modest means while raising a large family on a teacher’s salary, but it was also an outlet and positive distraction from things not so “fixable” in life. And, it was an opportunity to apply his formidable analytical and amateur engineering talents.
As we would come and go in the blissfulness of childhood, Dad could often be found at the kitchen table with his container of small tools (kept handy in the cabinet above the oven) repairing any number of appliances, toys, or essential household items. He could also handle pretty much any home electrical need and probably would have been an electrician if he hadn’t become an accountant and teacher.
His handy work also included keeping his family’s infamously prodigious fleet of cars on the road. He could be found in the throes of winter, feet sticking out from underneath a jacked-up car, with hands greasy and frozen from repairing brakes or replacing a water pump, while we waited impatiently to get back on the road.
He seemed to never shirk the endless repairs and maintenance needed by a household of 11 of us. It may not have started as a conscious expression of how he cared for us, but it became one of the most enduring signs of his deep dedication and love for his family.
The family would like to thank the staff of Beehive Assisted Living, as well as caregiver Shasta Maphies, and St Peter’s Hospice for their wonderful care of Tony. Donations in honor of Tony can be made to The Hunthausen Fund c/o The Good Samaritan ministries https://www.goodsamhelena.org/.
A Vigil will be held at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral home on Wednesday, August 7th at 6PM. Tony’s memorial Mass will be at St. Helena Cathedral on Thursday, August 8th at 12 Noon, followed by a reception in East Helena at Mavsar Center, St. Cyril and Methodius Parish. Burial will be at St. Ann’s Cemetery at 3:30 in E. Helena with military honors. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Tony.