Darrell Lee McGillen

(July 1, 1950 – July 9, 2022)
Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Darrell Lee McGillen of Laurel, MT left this world just after midnight in the early morning hours of July 9, 2022 at the age of 72. Born in Billings, MT on July 1, 1950, he was the only child of Lydia and Darrell James McGillen. Raised in a one bedroom apartment on East 1st Street in Laurel, Darrell started creating the story that is now his legend. Graduating from Laurel High School in 1968 he enrolling at Eastern Montana College to study “Suboligy” (socializing in the Student Union Building) as the country was at war. In 1970 Darrell was drafted into the Army and proudly served nearly two years fighting the war in Vietnam. After his active service to this country ended, Darrell returned to Laurel and in 1971 joined his father DJ in operating the family business, The Palace Bar & Lanes on Main Street. He also continued to serve in the Army reserves until 1976. In 1974 he was lucky enough to marry his love, Linda Sue Lawrenz, “His Lovely Bride”. The following nearly five decades brought him six children, sixteen grandchildren, five greatgrandchildren and eight nieces and nephews. Darrell lived a life of public service. Serving on the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department for 30 years and leading as Chief for 14 of them. He was an integral part of growing the amazing fireworks show we all enjoy on the 4th of July, spending countless hours with his fireman friends stringing shells together for the best fireworks display in the state. Darrell was also an amazing bowler. Enjoying leagues in town, and having the best of times bowling with his buddies at State, and National events. Darrell moved on from the bowling and bar business in the late 2000’s, working as a lighting installer for several years. He could tell you everything you ever didn’t need to know about LED lighting. He excelled like he always did just being the extremely handy person he was. As retirement days took over it didn’t slow Darrell down. He was his grandchildren’s biggest cheerleader on and off the court or field. Doing his best to make it to as many events as possible and always sharing a Papa’s wisdom “make smart decisions”.

If you knew him, you already know what an exceptional man he was. He was a loving husband, an outstanding dad, the best Papa and Grand Papa, and true friend to so many. A loyal defender of those he loved. Generous in all things. He bled Red White and Blue and loved the flag and what it stood for. He was a social butterfly who loved conversation. Tough as nails on the surface but soft on the inside and sentimental in ways you wouldn’t expect. He was loud and funny. A weaver of stories with a desire to make you laugh. The fixer of all things and builder of anything. He was a “make enough food for an army”, “everyone is welcome”, “the more the merrier” kind of guy. He was real. What you saw is what you got.

We have lost our ring leader, our master of ceremonies. Our hearts are broken, but his show will go on in each and every one of us that had the privilege to really know and love the man, the myth, the legend. Darrell Lee McGillen.

Darrell is survived by his lovely bride Linda, Son Allan (Nicola) Gradwohl; Jacob, Landen, Taicyn, Cole, Brittney, Gabriel, Gracie, Caryn, Tyler and Ronin. Daughter Jodi (Steve) Willis; Drake, Layne and Gracey. Daughter Janet (Bryon) Wagner; Ashley, Bryanna, Rowyn and Ryker. Daughter Lisa Harris (Daryl Kraiter); Carter. Son Derek (Kori) McGillen; Dax and Dekker. Daughter Kimber (Trent) Crookston; Ella, Addy and Mylee. Sister-in-Law Connie Slaughter; Jocelyn and Christopher. Sister-in-Law Jan Miller; Lance and Laura. Sister-in-Law Karen (Mike) Mace; Ann and Joe. Sister-in-Law Kim (Bill) Davis; Luke and Josh. And extended family spread out across Yellowstone, Stillwater and Carbon counties.

He was preceded in death by his parents Lydia and Darrell James McGillen, Brother-in-Law Barry Slaughter, Brother-in-Law Larry Miller.

Military funeral services will be held on September 2, 2022 at 2 p.m. at the Yellowstone National Cemetery in Laurel, Mont. Social hour will be held following the ceremony at the location TBD.

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