Jack Neitz

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jack Neitz passed away on February 21, 2018 in Denver, Colorado, where he moved in December of 2016 to be near to his daughter, Julie.

Born John Forrest Neitz May 12, 1926 in Philipsburg, Montana, Jack was the son of Roy Neitz and Vera (Norton) Neitz. He attended school in Philipsburg, graduating from Granite County High School in 1944.

After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy in 1944. He went to Idaho for his basic training. While he was there he completed flight school and got his pilot’s license, the begin- ning of a lifelong love of airplanes. He trained as an electronical engineer. In WW II he served as a mechanic in the South Pacific, crossing the equa- tor on the USS Dickman on February 3, 1945. He was discharged from the Navy in June of 1946, in Bremerton, Washington.

He started college at Montana State in Bozeman, attending school there from

1946-1948. But his early plans to be a dentist failed to keep his interest, and he returned

to Philipsburg. There he found Mary Rita Waldbillig, who had also returned home to Philipsburg to teach high school and take care of her ailing mother. Jack and Mary Rita married May 31, 1950. With Mary Rita, Jack returned to Bozeman. He found his vocation as a science teacher and completed his BS at Montana State in 1952.

Jack taught science in Fairfield, Montana from 1952-1954. He then returned to Bozeman

1954-1955, where he earned an MA degree. In May 1955 he accepted a position teaching science in the high school in Laurel. He taught there until he retired in 1985.

Jack loved science, and he loved teaching other people about it. He was always interested in new knowledge and how to better communicate what he was learning. The late 50s and 60s were an exciting time for the teaching of science. Motivated by the USSR’s successful launch of the Sputnik satellite, science education was given a complete overhaul. The National Science Foundation funded training institutes for science teachers in the United States. Jack was eager to participate, and he applied for and received fellowships to attend several of these. Driving across the country with the family in tow, Jack studied at the University of California (Berkeley, California) in 1957, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Massachusetts) in 1962, Ripon College (Ripon, Wisconsin) in 1966, and Pella College (Pella, Iowa) in 1967. His many students remember his patience, dedication and enthusiasm. A student’s question often elicited a trip to the supply closet and an impromptu demonstration. Physics students learned scientific principles through examples of everyday items, including children’s toys, such as how a slinky moved down the stairs. A collection of letters offers testimony to the appreciation felt by generations of LHS students.

After retirement, Jack was an avid backpacker and hiker. He spent many hours in his beloved Beartooth Mountains, hiking the trails and taking photographs. He especially liked mountain lakes, the more remote the better, and he enjoyed looking at his slides during the winter months. He joined the Elks in Billings, where he was a regular at their dances. He followed politics closely and was passionate about conserving the environment.

He is survived by his brother, Dean, his three children, Mary Jo, Jay (Maureen Neitz) and Julie (Mark Wielga), and five grandchildren, Kate and Alex Neitz, and Chris, Colin, and Poulami Wielga.

He will be buried in the Philipsburg Cemetery, Philipsburg, Montana July 5th, 2018. There will be a service at 11 a.m. at the graveside. Memorial Contributions may be made to the Northern Plains Resource Council.

Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cre- mation Service is entrusted with Jack’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com

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