Wesley Opp Obituary (2022) – Butte, MT

Wesley Carl Op

Wesley Carl Opp, a champion of our hearts, made off into the sunset to tell his stories in heaven on February 26, 2022.

Wes was born on the family farm near Manfred, North Dakota, on August 17, 1943. His father had gone to town to get the doctor and by the time they returned Wes had already been born. The family later moved to their farm near Chaseley, North Dakota.

Wes attended a rural country school, Eddy #1, where he carried water from a nearby farm and helped the teacher with the other children. His father drove Wes and his siblings to school in a horse-drawn sled with a truck cab, called the kabutka. He attended Bowdon High School in North Dakota, serving as the “bus driver” for other school kids in the area.

At a very young age, Wes learned to drive a team of horses, a tractor and other farm implements, as well as cars and trucks, and was taught to repair them from his much-loved father. He learned to raise and care for horses and cows. He learned to be a hard worker at a very young age which carried with him throughout his life. His least favorite chores were milking cows and tending chickens, which later led to many funny stories while helping his wife raise them in Montana. He learned how to raise field crops and grow a garden. He learned many food preparations and cooking skills from his amazing multitalented mother. He was an amazing brother to his four siblings. He worked for farms and managed a service. After high school graduation, he and his best friend, Kenny Kleinsasser, whom he had known since early childhood and had incredible and laughable adventures with, struck out together to find ranching jobs in Montana.

In Montana, Wes worked on 2 ranches, one for Harold Olssen and another for Paul Burdett. Later he became a mechanic at Winninghoff Motors in Philipsburg, which involved making many challenging wrecker calls. Prior to retirement he operated his own mechanic shop at his home.

As a child, he was an avid reader, which included a variety of books about farming, ranching, rodeos, and historical events. His favorite pastimes were attending rodeos, and watching bull riding, rodeos and horse racing on TV. He started a rodeo club and helped develop the rodeo grounds near Philipsburg. His other activities included belonging to a bowling league, baseball, square dancing, playing cards, Elks Club, following the Iditarod dog sled races, and being a volunteer fireman. He always enjoyed his time telling stories and jokes, talking on the phone, checking on his family members and remembering their birthdays. He was a master fixer and builder and was very resourceful and could make-do with whatever he had on hand. He was the person to call if you locked yourself out of your car or your house or if you just needed a helping hand.

At a skating party near Hall in 1964, a mutual friend, Peachy McGowan, introduced Wes and Sandy Hunt. They dated and wrote letters for about 3 years while Sandy taught school in Great Falls. On June 10, 1967, they were married in a dream-come-true style wedding at a small church in Great Falls by Sandy’s childhood minister, Rev. Warren Pardun, with Ruth and Jerry Stelling as attendants, along with other friends to sing, play the organ, and take pictures; a total of 8 people. They honeymooned in North Dakota and then came back to the Flint Creek Valley in Montana to live. They lived in five different homes as Wes’s jobs changed from miner, bar tender, rancher, and mechanic. They purchased property in Philipsburg and bought their own house. Together they found inspiration and creative ideas that energized them to host parties, big dinners, and have a place for people to stay. They traveled near and far to help others while at other times they took turns staying home while the other one helped those who needed it. These memories were fondly recalled as they found more conversation time together. Wes’s vacation and free time was used to fish, hunt, and play cards. He and Sandy helped with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and they traveled to North Dakota and other western states and Canada to visit friends and family.

God’s love was the wind beneath their wings as they searched and found God’s purpose for their life together finding true companion and new learning as they prayerfully went with the flow in daily adventures, sharing observations of life with each other, finding creative ways to make a Living, helping others, and sharing their home with others, while building on God’s twin pillars of love and forgiveness and finding the precious treasure of refining their conversation skills of listening and asking questions.

Their most creative and beloved adventure was welcoming children into their home to extend their family. Their first foster child was a beautiful blue-eyed 3-month-old captivating baby girl, whom they named Susan Renee, and adopted in 1974. They also adopted Casey Carl in 1981, a 4-year-old with twinkling eyes and engaging smile and ways. Wes and Sandy marvelled at how these two children could add so much life and joy and adventure to their lives. They also welcomed 2 other foster children into their home, Bradley and Suzannah, as well as many other young people who stayed with them during different times and became part of their family.

Wes was preceded in death by parents John and Johanna Opp; sister Margie Opp, brother Larry Opp, son Casey Opp and foster son Bradley.

He is survived by wife Sandy Opp, daughter Susan (Steve) Wood, grandchildren Steven Jr, Madison, Gavin, Ashlyn Wood, sister Lorna (Jim) Gleason, sister LaVonne Perkins, sister-in-law Deanna Opp (Larry), brother- in-law Robert Hunt, sister-in-law Julie (Mike) Kuefler, brother-in-law Rusty (Suzie) Hunt, foster daughter Suzannah Williems and her son James, foster daughter Angie and her daughter Addy; as well as many nieces and nephews, extended family, and too many special friends to mention.

Interment will be held on April 30, 2022 at the Philipsburg Cemetery at 12:00 pm. Celebration of Life and luncheon will follow at approximately 1:00 pm at the Granite County Museum and Cultural Center in Philipsburg, located at 135 South Sansome. Express condolences at www.wayrynen-richards.com.

Published by Missoulian on Apr. 13, 2022.

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