Too Soon Gone –Remembering Friends and Family

Donald "Rooster" Gorton

Rooster, J&D Truck Donald “Rooster” Gorton, age 64, of Helena
July 15, 1948 – January 14, 2013

Rooster died after sustaining cardiac arrest on January 14, 2013, while on a recovery.

He was born to Floyd and Ardis Gorton on July 15, 1948, in Adams, Wisconsin, and grew up there until he joined the armed forces. After being discharged from the service ,Don wanted to see the world so he hopped on a train and spent years just riding the rails until 1988 when he decided to make his home in Helena, Montana. He got a job cooking at God’s Love where he made many friends that turned into his family. He would later go to work at J&D Truck Repair where he was working at the time of his death.

Don was a kind, loving man that would give the shirt off his back to help someone. He lived his life one day at a time, never having any regrets. He had his hobbies, fishing, playing cribbage, playing on the farm, visiting family and friends, but his favorite things were his motorcycles.

He was preceded in death by his parents Floyd and Ardis (Cook) Gorton, brother Jack Gorton, and sister-in-law Carol Gorton. He is survived by his daughter Carazon Gorton and her husband, Steve Lowman, nephews Darrick Gorton and family, Troy Gorton and family, cousins Bernie and Janet Fritz, and many friends.

My Last Ride with Rooster

It’s after lunch and a routine call for a vehicle rolled over a bank came in. I asked Donnie if he could go. He said he would.Excited as always, he put on a new coat and insulated bibs, snow boots, and extra gloves and hats – the all-weather dress of the day and we loaded up. As we drove out the lot, he told me they had let him out of the barn as though he was free at last. We talked and joked as we drove the almost thirty miles to the scene of the accident. We talked about Donnie, which rarely happened, as he seemed to be a very private person.

We were to meet the MHP and the customer at the Canyon Creek store, but they had already gone to the scene. Knowing we might get into something that could take a while, we went into the store and each bought a bottle of water and a candy bar and off we went. As we went out the door there was a For Sale sign advertising the Canyon Creek Store for sale.

I jokingly suggested that Donnie get some of the moldy old money out he had hidden and buy that store for his retirement investment and start selling wrecker drivers candy bars. Got a very clear “no” out of that suggestion as it might interfere with the fishing and motorcycle rides that he so enjoyed. With that subject cleared up, we continued on as short distance and turned up Stemple Pass Road. He told me this was one of his favorite routes to ride. He said there were lots of curves and bumps and he always slowed his motorcycle down when he was riding on this gravel road "'cause you just don’t know what is ahead."

Just a short distance in there was a log cabin on each side of the road, one that was old and one that was really old and caving in. I suggested he get the bargain starter home, the fixer-upper with no roof and add that to the Canyon Creek Store investment and start “Rooster Enterprises.” Fishing out his back door in the morning and selling candy bars in the afternoon at the store. He again nixed the idea and said things were just fine as they were.

We arrived on scene, got out, surveyed the causality, put a plan together, talked with the patrol, set up signs, and went to work on recovering the vehicle. We worked together, recovering the topper and some of the freight, then winched it to the top of the hill and secured it in the road. We then went to work on the truck.

That’s when everything stopped and the Lord said it was time to come home. Rooster was as close to heaven as one can be on earth, working at one of things he loved to do in a place he loved to visit regularly. Life is so fragile and letting go is even harder, but there comes the day your work is done.

I know you are at peace in a land more beautiful than anything on earth and the roads will be endless for you to ride your bike with a cool breeze blowing on your face and beautiful days of sunshine that last forever.

Donnie, how I miss the morning review of the day before and a bit of “Rooster wisdom” as we got our cups of coffee and started the day. You would clean the offices, empty the garbage, run for parts, run someone up town, then there would be a flat tire or an out-of-fuel rig, then grab a wrecker and deliver a part, or come back to help someone tear something down or put oil away in the container while helping with deliveries. Always busy doing something – maybe that’s why I could never find you. Then there were the days you went to the ranch—the office cleaning would be done in half the time so you could get out there to jump on the swather to cut hay, a baler to get to balin' hay, or a tractor to disc a field for seeding. When the day was done, I’d get a call and you would tell me that you had got 'er done.

Oh, how you will be missed. I can still see you on the opposite side of the truck as we took our last ride together. You didn’t ask for anything of anyone but just wanted to be part of the team and to help. Live a simple life and be free to roam was all Rooster required, but he gave the shirt off his back many times to friends with less and expected nothing in return. Good bye, Donnie “Rooster” Gorton, your work on earth is done. It has been a sincere honor to be your friend and a part of your life. May God bless you and keep you.

Your friend always,
Jim Dusenberry

Meet you in the ditch and on the other side!

Robert L. Sparr

Robert L. Sparr, Sparr's Towing

Robert L. Sparr, 82, of Missoula, passed away on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at St. Patrick Hospital.

He was born November 24, 1927, in Bozeman to Albert and Zelda Sparr. As a child growing up during the Great Depression, Bob had many experiences, which developed his tenacious enduring attitude toward hard work and play.

He served in the Navy during and after World War II and was stationed in Japan as a carpenter. Bob returned home and worked for the BA&P Railroad in Anaconda for several years where he was an engineer. His love of trains remained a lifelong hobby. He began his business career in Anaconda with a Conoco station and later a towing and service operation. He moved the business to Missoula in 1970 where he and his two children, Bill and Bobbi, expanded the business to include auto repair, towing and recovery, moving truck rental and property rental. He retired, but never left the business, often consulting and managing from his home or on daily visits to the business across the street.

He enjoyed ballroom dancing, Grizzly football, walks with his dogs, and gardening. He and his wife, Elly, shared endless hours of joy in their joint interests and pure enthusiasm for life. Bob’s interest in dancing was so passionate he built an addition to his home with a ballroom dance floor just so he could practice regularly. He was an enthusiastic Griz fan, holding season tickets, and he never missed a game.

Daily outings to the river with Bob''s "puppies, "Prince and Princess, was an important part of Bob and Elly''s life. An animal lover at heart, he owned many pets throughout his life, including a squirrel named Rocky. An avid hat collector, he had an extensive collection from various time periods and countries. Bob also enjoyed gardening and working in his yard with Elly. He built river-rock archways to his home which will forever welcome and remind us all of his enthusiastic spirit for life.

Robert L. Sparr, Sparr's Towing

Survivors include his wife Elly of Missoula; daughter Roberta of Missoula; grandchildren, Michael (Jamie) of Missoula and Lisa (Al) of Missoula; brother Albert J. (Ginger) of Columbia Falls, and other extended family members in Missoula area. He is preceded in death by a son, William C.

Cremation has taken place. Memorial services will be held at the Alliance Church, 100 Foss Court East, Missoula at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 30. Tow truck procession line up from Sparr’s Towing, 2000 W. Central, Missoula at 10:30 a.m. Memorial service to be officiated by Chaplain Dan Dixon. A reception will immediately follow the service at the Alliance Church.

The family suggests memorials to the U of M Foundation, Excellence Fund, PO Box 7159, Missoula 59807.

Bill Sparr

Bill Sparr, Sparr's Towing in Missoula

William Charles Sparr, 61, of Missoula, passed away of natural causes on Thursday, February 18, 2010, in his home. He was born March 9, 1948, in Anaconda to Robert and Hilda Sparr. As a young boy, Bill enjoyed the family cabin at Georgetown Lake, hiking, fishing, swimming, and ice skating on the Anaconda city commons. While in high school, he participated in many sports and formed lifelong friendships. After some college, he served in the Navy and was stationed in Guam and Spain during the Vietnam War as a communications specialist.

In the 1960s, he and his sister, Bobbi, joined their father, Robert, in the family business that was originally a Conoco service station in Anaconda. In the early 1970s, they relocated to Missoula to open a service station and towing company near the fairgrounds where the intersection was known as Malfunction Junction.Bill Sparr in the Navy They later moved the business to its current location near the Southgate Mall and expanded the operations to include auto repair, moving-truck rental, and property leasing. He and his sister have managed the business since their father's retirement. Bill helped write the Montana Professional Tow Truck Act, which outlines basic rules for towing in Montana.

He enjoyed golf and billiards. He was involved with Shriner's Hospital and Masons and a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He was a beloved member of the community, liked by all and knew "everyone." You were lucky indeed if you were one of many who experienced firsthand his heart of gold.

Survivors include his wife, Debbie, son Michael (Jamie), daughter Lisa (Al), sister Roberta, father, Robert (Ellie), his step-children Scott Anderson, Dawn (Jurian) Hofman, and Jeff Jacobson, all of Missoula.

Click here for a video of the parade in honor of Bill. Friends, family, and peers honored Bill Sparr as about twenty tow truck drivers from Butte, Great Falls, Missoula, and Kalispell drove in a processional down Russell Street. The Montana Tow Truck Association organized the processional. Sparr's father was one of the original founders.

Margo Frownfelter

Margo Frownfelter, Bolster's Towing

Margo was born October 3, 1953, in Jamestown, North Dakota, to Erick and Lorna (Larson) Holmgren. She had an older brother, Lorence, and a younger brother, Michael. She was raised at the family homestead north of Kulm, and attended school in Kulm. Margo met Dennis Frownfelter April 20, 1969, while roller skating in Jamestown. They were married three years later on April 21, 1972, in Edgeley. Margo and Dennis lived north of Bismarck on a feedlot, where Dennis worked for four years. Their children, Todd and Tina, were born in Bismarck. In 1992, Margo and Dennis started expanding the business, Bolster's Towing, by purchasing their first tow truck other than the five that came with the business. Margo was known for treating employees like family. In 1999, Margo joined Dennis at the Montana Tow Truck Association meetings as the Mountain Towing representative.

Margo passed away December 4, 2007, after a short battle with cancer in her home with her family by her side. Her parents, Erick and Lorna, numerous aunts and uncles. and her father-in-law, Ira Frownfelter, preceded Margo in death. Margo is survived by her husband, Dennis, her son, Todd (Mindy), her only grandchildren, Daniel and Kimberly, and daughter, Tina, all of Kalispell, her brothers, Lorence (Connie) and Michael (Della), Aunt Frieda Larson and Uncle Wilbur (Carol) Holmgren, five nieces and three nephews and their families in North Dakota, her in-laws, Donald, Raphael, Bernadine, Kenneth, and Christine, four nieces and their families, and Margo's unofficial children, Robert and Lisa, and many friends.

Note: I'd like to share The Dash with you. I'm sure Margo would approve.

Milo Casagrande

Milo Casagrande

It is with a profound sense of loss and deepest sympathy that MTTA (Montana Tow Truck Association) acknowledges the passing of founder and staunch supporter Milo Casagrande of Milo's Towing & Repair in Butte. Milo died on February 20, 2002, at his home following a courageous battle with cancer. A native of Butte, Milo was born on June 5, 1931, the son of Camillo and Evelyn M. (Berryman) Casagrande. After graduating from Butte High School, Milo proudly served his country during his stint in the Army. As owner of Milo's Towing, he aided many a stranded motorist and provided a reliable and honest service to all. He was also a member of the Towing & Recovery Association of America (TRAA). See Milo's MTTA Hall of Fame page for more about him.