Thomas “Tommy” “Tom” Henry McCrea, 97, a dedicated husband, father, farmer, cowboy, rancher, jig and square dancer, and storyteller, went to be with the Lord on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 in Plains, Montana.
Tom was born in Roundup, Montana on Dec. 1, 1919 to Thomas C. McCrea and Mable F. (Sealey) McCrea. In 1934, when Tom was just 14 years old, while his parents and four younger siblings rode in an old Chevy truck, he drove a wagon loaded with farm machinery from the Bull Mountains of Roundup, Montana, across the state to where his family settled, on Camas Prairie. His family moved in 1936 to the Swamp Creek District, where just seven families resided at the time. Their home was at the end of what is now called McCrea Road, outside of Plains along the Clark Fork River. He graduated Plains High School in 1938. He loved learning and was an avid reader throughout his life.
Tom bought his own ranch on Swamp Creek, with the help of his father, in 1941. He soon went to California to train and eventually work for Lockheed Plants 2 and 4 building airplanes. A heart murmur prohibited him from enlisting at the height of World War II, but he was finally drafted into the Army in 1945. As the war came to an end, he was discharged in 1946 and returned to work his ranch raising and breaking horses. In 1955, Tom married Donna (Mydland). Together, they raised four children and added on to his little bachelor shack as the family grew. The family had a working farm until the late 1990s. Tom and Donna’s son, Charles, works and manages the land today as a logger. Tom was a lifetime member of First Lutheran Church in Plains, Montana; Mountain View Lodge No. 31 Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Fidelity Rebekah Lodge No. 50; the American Legion No. 129 of Paradise, Montana; and a member of the Montana Tree Farm System for 50 years as of September 2017, as well as a founding leader of the Southside Sparks Sanders County 4-H.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents and sister, Joanna; brothers, Roland, Charles, and John; and his daughter, Connie Austin. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Donna; and his sister, Edna (McCrea) Perrodin. He will be remembered by his children, Linda (Daniel) Hurlbut, Patricia McCrea, and Charles (Jennifer) McCrea; nine grandchildren, Eric Anderberg, Christina (Matthew) Konrad, Daniel Austin, AnnaJo Villafania, Corrie (Daniel) Rogers, Casie (Nick) Knowles, Krystal Crown, Thomas (Marissa) McCrea, and Timothy McCrea; and 10 great-grandchildren, Connie Austin, Jennifer Austin, Christian Villafania, Julissa Trujeque, Mirabella Rogers, Forrest Rogers, Nicholas Knowles, Connor Knowles, Ethan Briley and Andessa McCrea; as well as a host of cherished nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends.
A celebration of life was held at First Lutheran Church, 604 S. Fifth Ave., Plains, on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at 3 p.m. Inurnment took place at Plains Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: First Lutheran Church or Home Healthcare and Hospice Services of Clark Fork Valley Hospital.