Herschel R. Mays passed away at St. Patrick Hospital, surrounded by his sons, on November 2nd, 2021, at age 78. He was born to Lavina (Smith) and Raymond Mays on November 26th, 1942.
In Missoula, Herschel met his one and only, Clara Mays; they were married on October 26, 1963. They then had three beloved sons, Herschel (Marchita), Mark (Lisa), and Kevin and raised them in Western Montana. Of all the life lessons he taught his sons, hard work and honesty are their most cherished; Hersh was an exceptional role model and outstanding father. His closest friends were Monroe Smith and Chip Williams. Hersh always told many stories about the shenanigans he and Monroe got into both as kids and adults.
To say Herschel was an avid outdoorsman would be a huge understatement. Herschel had a true love for the outdoors. Hunting, fishing, backpacking, mountain climbing, rafting—you name it, and Hersh had done it. He always made a point to include his sons in his outdoor activities. Some of Hersh’s fondest memories were hunting and fishing with his sons, and many chuckles are still had reminiscing over these misadventures. An enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and always an advocate for the preservation of tribal wilderness, Hersh served as the Director of the Mission Mountain Wilderness area for some years.
One of Hersh’s favorite pastimes was playing marbles, a game derived from Smith family tradition. Titled the “big cheat,” he would play hours of marbles with his family to earn a win.
Above all, Hersh loved his family and adored his nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren, always offering a “snuggle in his wigwam.” He is survived by his sons and their families. His ashes will be spread alongside Clara’s. Herschel’s strong-willed spirit will live on in the stories shared by family and friends.