Gary Lautt was a good man, a little rough around the edges, but a good man. He loved his family and country beyond measure. He was a good man.
He was a man’s man. He loved to visit and drink coffee with men, meeting with the coffee crew for decades. He would often call Laurie to settle arguments about food trivia. He loved family above all else and always brought laughter, fun and mischief to them. He teased his wife, children, sisters, nieces and nephews. He would tease his nieces and nephews until they cried, then give them money. After that he could go home happy. Mission accomplished.
He loved to play pinochle, cribbage, pitch, and poker with family and friends. Gary and Ed MacClean would play cribbage for hours taking turns holding baby Sara. He spent hours teaching and playing cards with his nieces and nephews on all holiday gatherings.
He could play Monopoly, and Aggravation for hours. Laurie said that she finally had to quit playing Aggravation with him to save their marriage because she would get so aggravated about never winning. Gary was a game strategist and competitor, not afraid to take a crazy chance and then laugh loudly and mischievously when it paid off. He enjoyed putting puzzles together, always holding back one piece so he could put the last piece in, making sure that you would see him tap it into place.
He was a good man. Gary loved little kids and animals, always owning dogs, cats and other animals. Horses were special to him. His best friend Burton Farley said that Gary was a horseman and a good one at that. He and Sara loved the time they spent together with their horses. We heard many tales from Burton about the escapades they shared over the years. We also heard many tales of the times he would fly with his friend Ray Feller, and the stunts they would pull, enough to make your hair turn gray. No matter how many times he had seen a John Wayne movie and he had seen them all, numerous times, it was always a premier, always. He loved to watch rodeos, old tractor shows and auctions. Gary worked hard to support his family and he used to play hard. He talked about how he worked for Oren Wier when he was only six years old. When he was a teenager, he altered his birth certificate so he could work at the Holly Sugar Factory.
He served in the United States Army in Germany during the Vietnam era, attaining the rank of a CPL E-4, and a commendation as a Marksman (rifle). He returned to the U.S. on a troop transport ship. When Laurie wanted to go on a cruise he said he would never get on a ship again, he told Abby that he had seen the world and was happy to stay in Montana. He was honorably discharged in 1966.
He was a personal friend of Sheriff Roy Riley through numerous encounters with the law in his young and crazy days. His mother must have lived in dread of what she would hear about him.
Gary looked up to his cousin Don Fox and spent many years dreaming up ways to be ornery with his cousin Larry Fox including tipping Laurie out of canoes as many times as they could. Always saying they wouldn’t do it again. He and his brother Gilbert owned and operated Big Horn Drilling. They drilled water wells, installed pumps and septic systems, serviced wind mills, and constructed steel grain bins until Gilbert’s death. Gary continued answering well questions until as recently as six months ago even fielding questions from Abby for friends in Alaska. Turns out shooting a gun in a well always works. He served as the Low Line Ditch Co. maintenance technician, cleaning ditches, installing culverts, and maintaining ditch banks. He also owned and operated heavy equipment to build roads and level land until his health prevented it. He loaded beets in the North Valley and he also operated heavy equipment in New Mexico and Big Sky. He eventually became a highway contract mail-carrier so he could be closer to home.
Gary was a smart man and he loved helping people whenever and however he could, and he could always be depended on to give advice and tell people how they should do things whether they wanted the advice or not. He had some kind of inner tracking system and could always find you, showing up when you least expected or wanted him to. All of Hardin frequently saw him driving around town “making his rounds”.
He loved draft horses, raised a few cattle, and a small flock sheep (many of whom died in a flood in North Valley in the late 70’s). We laughed loud and long over the fact that he could stick his arm up to his elbow in the back end of a sheep to pull a lamb and not blink an eye but would gag uncontrollably over changing his daughters’ messy diapers. He started an annual wagon train to honor old timers Melvin Cook, Jim Svaren, and Roger Fisher. They and many others would spend three days in the hills and valleys in various parts of the county to experience what it might have been like to be a part of a wagon traian. He was a good man.
Gary was born to Ted and Lorraine (Finck) Lautt in Hardin on Feb. 6, 1945. He passed on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. He married Laurie Ann Finley on Nov. 23, 1973 in Winfield, Kansas. It was the day after Thanksgiving and so according to Gary their anniversary was always the day after Thanksgiving no matter what the date was. He always wanted Thanksgiving at our house because he loved having people over, but also so he could have leftovers.
He is preceded in death by his parents, brother Gilbert and sister in law Vicky Lautt; father and mother in law, S. Ben and Fern Finley; brothers in law Roy Miller, Bob Finley, Bill McCormick, and Denzel Ekey, sister in law Elaine Finley, niece Joyce Baker, Dale McCormick and nephew Scott Miller.
Survivors include his wife Laurie; daughters Sara (Skeeter) Redding and Abby (Nick) Zito); his puppy buddies Henry and Lucky; four grandchildren; Justice Redding, Nicholas, Daniel and Sammy Zito; his sisters Jean Miller and Carol Lautt; numerous nieces and nephews; his brothers in law Dennis (Helen) Finley, Jim (Lore) Finley, sister in law Mary Ekey; and friends Burton and Sherry Farley, Ralph and Candace Miller and Marjorie MacClean.
Funeral services will be held 2:00 pm Tuesday April 24, in the Bullis Funeral Chapel. Gary will be buried in Fairview Cemetery with military honors. Following graveside services, family and friends are invited to gather at the home of Linda and Chris Garrison to share food, friendship and memories.
The family would like to thank the staff of Compassus Hospice, Hardin Home Care and the VA for their tender and loving care of Gary during his last months. Bullis Mortuary is entrusted with the arrangements.