Gene Bernard Amestoy

(1951­­ – 2021)
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
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On February 16, 2021, Gene Bernard Amestoy walked peacefully into the arms of the Father, surrounded by those who loved him most. He was 69 years old.

Gene was born to Paul and Corrine Amestoy on July 14, 1951 in Sidney, Montana. The youngest of four siblings, he grew up on the family farm, nestled among the rolling plains of Eastern Montana. During long summers throughout high school, he and his cousin, Gary Amestoy, worked as farmhands for Joe Irigoin, a family friend, to save up money so Gene could attend automotive school – he always loved motorcycles and working with his hands.

In 1969, he moved to Billings to attend auto school. Soon after, in 1971, he met Pattie McCleary, and the pair struck a lifelong spark. They married in September 1973 and had three children: Brian Paul, Brent and Lyndsey. The pair raised their kids in a little blue house at the end of Laurel’s 8th Avenue, where Gene often worked in the garage, shaping wood into planters, mirror hangings, sleds and other creations that enriched the lives of his family and friends. His work was often displayed alongside Pattie’s wheat weavings at local craft shows.

Gene loved hunting, camping, going out dancing and coaching his kids’ baseball teams during their early years.

He pursued a love of woodworking in his career, doing finishing work at Boise Cascade, a prefabricated homes company in Laurel. When the business closed in 1983, he continued on working with cabinets at Kober Homes until he was no longer able.

Doctors diagnosed Gene with Multiple Sclerosis in 1983, an illness that would alter the course of his life. Though the disease was not kind to him, Gene persevered, setting an example of strength for his kids and grandkids that they will never forget.

Gene moved back to Billings in 1997 and lived independently until 2014. His grandkids fondly remember trips to his apartment on the West End. Grandpa would let them play with the remote on his electric recliner and ride with him in his motorized wheelchair. If they were good, he’d even let them steer and honk the “horn,” much to their delight. When Gene adopted a black cat from the animal shelter, his grandkids were happy to welcome “Kirby” into the family – even though Grandpa insisted his name was “Bud.” Through his years in the apartment, one couldn’t help but notice the license plate hanging above his window. It read: “Still Me.”

In 2014, Gene moved into the Bella Terra nursing facility, where he lived until his final days. He enjoyed visits from his family and friends, and made many outings for holidays and birthdays. His favorite was going out to eat. On Sundays, Gene could often be found attending mass with Pattie before the two would cruise down to the casino in his chair for a round of Keno and a few Bud Lights. Staff at Bella Terra had to slow his chair down – he always had a need for speed.

“Papa” loved visits from his two youngest grandkids, whom he would load up with Cheetos and cookies, taking them for rides through the halls and showing them off to the other residents. Gene made many friendships at Bella Terra, from residents to staff, infecting all who saw his smile and heard his laugh with joy.

On the afternoon of February 16, 2021, Gene passed peacefully into eternal life with Pattie and his kids around him in that little blue house they shared for many years. 

Gene is preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Corrine Amestoy. He is survived by Pattie Amestoy, his children Brian (Christine) Amestoy, Brent (Teresa) Amestoy and Lyndsey (Max) Archila, grandchildren Austin, Alexandra, Thomas, Makayla, Mallory, Ethen, Piper and Luca, his sisters Rita (Glen) Seavy and Linda (Jim) Simonsen, his brother Ron (Peg) Amestoy, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank Stillwater Hospice for quickly getting Gene home and making him comfortable in his final days. They would also like to thank the staff at Bella Terra for always doing their best to make Gene feel at home.

A celebration of Gene’s life will be held on Friday, February 26 at 1 p.m. at Smith Funeral Chapel in Laurel. Interment will follow at the Laurel Cemetery, with a reception held afterward at the Palace Bar and Lanes. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

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