Montie Dale Haight decided to quietly slip from this world Friday night, Sept. 29, 2017 knowing his son was holding his hand and his “family” were happily sharing memories of his escapades around his hospital bed.
I haven’t met many people who have crammed so much living into 69 years of life, but Montie managed to live life authentically and to the fullest. He was born to Chet and Doris Haight Dec. 29, 1947 and spent a wonderful childhood growing up in the wilds of the Harris Ridge country with the Clearwater Mountains out his back door. By the age of six he was helping his dad with farming by cutting hay with the tractor. He talked of how his dad sent him down the Harris Ridge grade and on into Kamiah with the tractor in low range, first gear when he was very young as well. In the late 50s, early 60s he rode his pinto, Queenie, helping drive cattle between the home place and their Eldorado Creek allotment.
Family vacations were often spent along the Lochsa with his parents and grandparents camping, fishing, and hunting. Montie knew the North Fork of the Clearwater prior to the construction of Dworshak and hunted mountain goat in the Skull Creek area in his teens. Old family photos show many pack trips into back country with family members and friends. He would often bring his Grandma Mattoon on sight-seeing trips and even took her into Buck Meadows on a motorcycle when she was quite elderly.
Even in his childhood pictures he dressed neatly in a western shirt, cowboy boots and hat. Unless he was hunting or cutting wood, this is how you would see him dressed. Montie could be a gentleman, schooled in the old ways you hardly see anymore.
I guess you could say Montie died of a well-used heart. I never knew him to turn from someone in need, whether it was someone short of money or food. He loved his grandparents, his parents, his wives and his children. He loved the mountains, his dogs, Snickers bars, country western music, Pall Mall, yard sales, guns, cutting wood and drinking with his friends, not necessarily in that order. I’d like to say he sometimes had his priorities wrong.
Saying Montie had a wild side is an understatement. His tales were peppered with pranks and practical jokes in Pat McManus style. Fishing with Dupont spinners, maneuvering huge dozers up mountain sides, pushing snow over the hood of his truck coming out of hunting camp, wrecks he survived, trees he felled, elk he poached. I should tell you one of his requests was that his obituary be true. So I guess we could add here as well that he could be a stubborn, ornery SOB too. But we loved him just the same. His feelings of self-worth and belonging were not negotiated with other people. He walked his own path in life knowing that attempting to fit in was to betray his heart.
Montie taught me many things; how to run a saw and fall timber, how to shoot and put up meat, the history and stories of the country he loved. The greatest thing he taught me was to forgive. I think this is true for many people in his life.
Montie is survived by his children Clint Haight of Nezperce, Patti Dale Bass Haight of Clarkston, and Tamara Saarinen of Seattle; his loving companion Julie Pfefferkorn of Kooskia; his brother Gary Haight of Kamiah; as well as his “favorite ex-wife” Stacy Van Steenwyk and “honorary grand-daughter” Molly Van Steenwyk, both of Harpster.
His family would also like to extend their gratitude to Dr. Jones and Cathy Ward, whose care and compassion helped Montie reach the age of almost 70.
Montie will be buried by his immediate family on Harris Ridge, close to his childhood home. An open house celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Oct. 14 beginning at 1 p.m. and lasting into the evening at the Kamiah Legion Hall, 618 Main in Kamiah. Bring a snack or appetizer to share, beer and beverages will be provided. This will be a time to sit and share memories of Montie with friends and family.