Cover photo for Oscar Baertsch's Obituary
1915 Oscar 2023

Oscar Baertsch

July 6, 1915 — May 26, 2023


Oscar Baertsch, age 107, 10 months, 20 days, passed away peacefully of a natural death on Friday, May 26, 2023, at St. Luke Extended Care on Ronan. He lived the life of a true Montanan, being born to homesteaders Oscar Arthor and Bertha (Rowe) Baertsch in Proctor, MT on July 6, 1915. His parents lived on a homestead in Hog Heaven, but he was born at Proctor at his grandmother Etta (Scott) Rowe’s house. After his birth he returned with his mother Bertha to Hog Heaven.

His family then moved to Proctor when he was 5 years old to his grandmother Etta’s homestead in 1920. He went to Proctor Grade School until he graduated from the eighth grade. He didn’t start school until he was 7 as he was very sick with his tonsils. His first-grade teacher (was mean) held back the entire class, that is why he was 20 years old when he graduated from high school in 1935. He stayed in his parents’ house in Polson (which they purchased in 1929 so their children would have a place to stay when they went to school) while he went to high school. His brothers John and Buck lived with him for a while. In high school, he was in the school band and played the trombone, stunt 2, 3, 4 and Science Club as president. After high school he was in the Polson City marching band.

While going to high school, he worked at the following various jobs: split wood for bakery, ricked wood for different people, worked for farmers, drove utility service truck when they were building the highway from Polson to Pablo in 1934. Also, while in high school during the summer, he would catch a freight train as a hobo and would travel to Collins, MT harvesting grain in 1934. He also worked in Helena, MT delivering telegraph messages on a bicycle.

After graduating from high school, he worked at the following: A.M. Davidson in beet fields – haying for farmers, Collins, MT harvesting grain; in 1936, he worked on construction of Kerr Dam until January 1938.

He married Ilene Barnes on March 10, 1938, in Kalispell, MT. They were introduced by Stanley Mero, a cousin to Oscar and Vivian Mero’s sister of Ilene. Stanley and Vivian gave a picture of Ilene to him and started corresponding for a month before meeting. They went together for 9 months before they married. Stanley and Vivian stood up for them at their wedding. After their marriage they moved to Cody, WY on the 1st of April until June. He was unemployed during that time. They moved to Powell, WY until August. From Wyoming they moved to Collins, MT and worked harvesting grain that fall. Ilene stayed with her parents during that time. On Oct. 28, 1938, they moved to Charlo, MT. They were on the farm for 2 years until Oct. of 1940. From there, they moved to Polson in 1940. He built his life on hard work, building several homes and commercial buildings in and around Polson, was Foreman for U.S. Plywood in Polson for approximately 15 years.

They lived in town in Polson until the spring of 1949 when they moved to about 5 miles east of town where they leased 115 acres. They raised cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, had a big garden, etc., along with 4 children while living there. Oscar also continued to work at his job along with many chores at home. Both Oscar and Ilene worked very hard from early morning until late at night. In the 1950’s, they bought 25 acres (1/2 mile east of the intersection going on the south shore). In 1962, they built their present home and continued to raise cattle and garden.

His great grandparents & family came over from Switzerland in 1854 to America for better opportunities. His grandfather was 10 years old. They settled in Fountain City, Wisconsin. The Civil War broke out about 10 years later and his grandfather was drafted to fight the war for the North attached to the Wisconsin Regiment under President Lincoln. He was shot in the hip and received a pension of $18.00 a month for the rest of his life. He died in 1929. Oscar’s father lived to be 96 and his aunt to live over 100. Oscar had good genes to live longer than any Baertsch relative.

Dad will be missed as a father and all the history he knew about the Polson area, Proctor, Lake Mary Ronan, and Flathead Lake. He knew the names of all the homesteaders and where they all lived. During those years when someone passed away, grown-ups and children, they could be buried along a fence line, under a pine tree or on a hillside. He knew the location of many grave sites. He was a historian and a great mind until he passed.

He was an avid Griz football fan and looked forward to watching the games on TV. He did attend one Griz game at the age of 99.

Oscar was preceded in death by his wife Ilene (Barnes) Baertsch. They were married for 67 years; his four brothers and 2 sisters, granddaughter Debra Kay Baertsch and great granddaughter Jesse Baertsch.

He is survived by his son Gary (Sandy) grandchildren – Troy and Wes; son Clint Baertsch (Karon) grandchildren – Shaunna, Shane, Shoni, step-grandchild Kari, son Lon Baertsch, grandchildren – Mia, Marci, and Dustin; daughter Carla Hilton (John) grandchildren Darcie, Brian and Greg; 21 great-grandchildren, 6 great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews, cousins as well as extended family and many friends.

Funeral services for Oscar will be held on Friday, June 2, 2023, at 1:00 P.M. at The Lake Funeral Home. Burial will follow services at Lakeview Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s for Children.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Oscar Baertsch, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, June 2, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory

101 6th Ave E, Polson, MT 59860

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