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Anna Mae Nicholson
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Jesus Acosta
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Donald Norem

April 30, 1930 ~ February 03, 2018

Service: February 08, 2018 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
   Location: Riverside Country Club

Don Norem of Bozeman, passed away on February 3, 2018, at the age of 87.  Don was born April 30, 1930 (always 4-30-30 to anyone asking his birth date) in Devils Lake, ND to Irene (Burns) and Stanley Norem.  He spent his early childhood in Beulah and Marmarth, ND.  His family moved to Plentywood MT in 1942 and Don graduated from Plentywood High School in 1948.  He enrolled at the University of Montana for one term before transferring to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Don interrupted college to enlist in the Air Force.  Shortly after enlisting he married Katharine Scheel in 1951 in Fargo, ND.  Living in Texas at Lackland AFB as a private, married with a young son and another on the way, Don applied for Officer Candidate School.  He was accepted, the only one in his class who was not a college graduate.  After graduating from OCS, he was stationed in Trier, Germany.  When the war ended he was discharged and Don and Kay with sons, Jim and Mark, returned to Moorhead where Don graduated from Concordia College in 1954.

While in college and after graduation he worked for his brother-in-law in the Fargo Scheels Hardware store.  Don opened his own Scheels Hardware in Jamestown, ND. Shortly after opening the store, his daughter Karen’s arrival completed the family.

After six years in Jamestown, the lure on Montana was too great.  Don sold his hardware store and he and Kay bought a Montana cattle ranch – although neither had lived in the country.  The ranch was beautiful, on the Stillwater River south of Columbus, though they soon realized that a scenic ranch is not necessarily a good cattle ranch.  After three years they traded the ranch for one in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Aside from their own child laborers, Don and Kay operated the ranch without hired help.  While a great ranch there were few people, making it too remote to raise a family with school-age children.  After 14 months the ranch was sold.  A unanimous family decision brought them to Bozeman where they knew not a soul. At age 35, Don was the youngest retired rancher in the area.

In 1966 Don bought Northern Auto Co. from Dean Chaffin, changing the name to Don Norem Chevrolet-Buick.  It was located downtown at the corner of Main and Grand.  In 1970 when North 19th was only a dirt road, the dealership moved to a new building, at the present Safeway location.

Don’s love of horses and competitive nature led him to buy an outstanding Quarter Horse racing stallion in 1976.  Soon he owned several top Quarter Horse mares that raced successfully throughout the Northwest.  During this time he also owned a ranch near Gallatin Gateway and later one near Melville, MT.

Don sold his auto dealership in 1989 and retired to the golf course.  His routine became a morning coffee group followed by an afternoon round of golf at Riverside Country Club.

Don had a special relationship with his grandsons, Shawn and Brett, always interested in their activities and beyond proud of the ‘boys’.  His greatest joy has been to know them as adults and to share the activities of their families – Shawn with Carli, Keegan and Brady of Bozeman; Brett with Jodie, Norah and Conor of NYC.

Since 2003 summer weekends have been spent at the lake house on Hauser Lake. They were very special times with family and friends. While everyone was enjoying activities on the lake, Don was content to log miles on his riding mower. 

Don is survived by his wife, Kay; sons, Jim (Kerry) of Olympia, WA and Mark (Sonya) of Big Timber; Mark’s children, Kaycee, Stacee, Darcy and Christopher; and daughter, Karen Toresdahl of Bozeman, sons Shawn and Brett.  Also surviving are ten great-grandchildren.

A gathering of friends and family will be held on Thursday, February 8th from 3-5pm at Riverside Country Club.

Contributions in Don’s name may be made to Bozeman Health Foundation (memo line: Hospice), 931 Highland Blvd. Suite 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715; or Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street, Bozeman, MT 59718.

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"Let me thank you for the care you took with my father and family.  You and all the staff at Dokken-Nelson were wonderful.  We appreciate all you did for us; it was wonderful not having to worry about anything during this very sad time."

~ M. J.
 
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