East Helena native Lucy Stump passed away on June 23rd following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
Lucy was born in Helena on January 4, 1930 to John M and Frances (Smith) Rigler of East Helena. At a young age, she lost her father to pneumonia and turned to her brothers Luddie and Zip as her father figures. She cherished her memories of growing up in East Helena and was proud to have been an original Smith’s Place family member, always eager to share with all the many tales of life in the smelter town. She helped her mom clean the ASARCO Smelter Administrative Building and played softball on the East Helena team where she cultivated friendships that lasted her lifetime.
When WWII broke out and Luddie and Zip enlisted, she prayed with her mother regularly for their safe return and wrote letters to them every day. A great majority of those letters returned to East Helena with Zip and Luddie, providing a historical account of East Helena during WWII. Following the war and the safe return of her brothers, she met a handsome young sailor boy named Mike Stump. Together, she and Mike raised four children in Helena. While raising kids, Lucy began a nearly four-decade stint of public service at the Federal Highway Administration. Along the way came fishing trips to Hebgen Lake, camping trips to the Ruby and cheering on every sport and activity undertaken by her family members. Summers were especially joyful with Gramma as the pitcher and all the grandchildren playing wiffleball. She was never too old to participate. In later years she and Mike enjoyed traveling to Vegas with their daughters.
Her other lifelong devotion was honoring military service veterans through fundraising and administrative activities with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Cory Dullum Post 10010 Ladies Auxiliary and the Military Order of the Cooties. She is credited with selling over 100,000 Buddy Poppies to aid veterans and serving more than 8,000 hours of volunteerism at Fort Harrison. For her unwavering efforts, she received countless awards and in 2018 she was recognized as the National VFW Volunteer of the Year. In 2019 she received the United States Military Order of the Cooties Supreme Volunteer of the Year.
Through these efforts, she became a symbol of patriotism across Montana especially Fort Harrison and East Helena communities. Her favorite colors were red, white, and blue. Lucy was an intricate part of the Easter Egg Hunt and the East Helena Community birthday calendar. She was devoted to instilling patriotism in school-aged children, and in 2015 she was bestowed the honor of being named the East Helena School District Citizen of the Year. Her life-long dedication to East Helena was culminated by being named the Grand Marshal at the 2018 East Helena Rodeo Parade.
Preceding her in death was her husband of 69 years, Mike Stump, parents John and Frances Rigler and brothers Luddie (Lois) Rigler and Zip (Iris) Rigler and her beloved Smith and Rigler relatives. Survivors include daughters Jean (Anthony) Strainer of East Helena, Linda Williams of New York, sons Bob (Donna) Stump of Sheridan, Montana and Tom (Lisbeth) Stump of Bozeman; grandchildren Adam (Amy) Strainer with Bricean and Ivory; Michael (Amy) Strainer with Ava and Giuliana Lucille; Tyler Strainer; Ben (Tanya) Williams with Asia; Clifton (Ali) Stump with Harrison; Patrick Stump; Christopher (Marie) Stump and Kari (Dean Waltee) Stump.
Lucy was an active member of Ss Cyril and Methodius Parish as a young girl and then again in her senior years when she returned to East Helena, while living in Helena she regularly attended mass at the Cathedral. The Stump Family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Son Heaven for making Mother welcomed and cared for over the past several months. We would also like to thank Iris Maness, Donna Schroeder, Flo Parmalee, Jean Boucher, Carol McMaster and Barb Peters for tending to Mother after Dad’s passing and migration to Son Heaven.
Lastly, Lucy looked for the good in everyone and everything. She would strike up a conversation with anyone and then walk away feeling good that she had met someone new. Later she would praise you on your accomplishments and express pride for just knowing you. We could all use a little Lucy in our lives every now and then. Godspeed Mother on your next journey, say hi to everyone, you left this world and those you touched with a little bit more pride in themselves. We thank and love you for that everlasting gift.
A private family Mass will be celebrated at SS Cyril and Methodius. She will be laid to Rest at St. Ann’s Cemetery in East Helena. Public celebration of life will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, July 10th at the Kennedy park in East Helena.