Jan. 2, 1951-Feb. 28, 2018
Gary Lee Stoddard was born Jan. 2, 1951, to Lee and Emma Stoddard in Durango, Colorado. The family lived near Durango until (circa) 1965, when they moved to Whitehall where Gary attended high school. It was during his schooling there that his mother passed away during his sophomore year, and his father passed away a year later. Shortly after, the Rust family of Whitehall took him in as one of their own. Francis and “Mom” Rust, siblings Bill, David, Paul and Linda soon became his lifelong family. Gary graduated from high school in 1969 and shortly after, he joined the Army where he served in various locations, including Korea. Gary passed away suddenly Feb. 28, 2018.
When Gary returned to Montana following his service in the Army he began a career operating heavy equipment, starting with a job for the Anaconda Company in the Berkeley Pit. During this time, he married Randi Piazzola-Risher and had a child Tawna. Gary and Tawna became the best of friends before his passing. He was always eager to let everyone know how proud he was of his daughter and grandkids.
Over the years, he worked many construction jobs from Wyoming to Washington. It was during a job in the Tri-Cities area that he met the love of his life, Joyce. The two were married and lived together in several places in Washington, finally settling in Seattle. Gary was blessed with a second family with which he shared so many joyful occasions. He considered Joyce’s family his own. When Joyce was diagnosed with cancer, he dedicated his life to caring for her until her passing.
Gary recently moved back to Montana where he lived for a year in Cardwell. His daughter and granddaughters talked him into moving to Helena with them, where he lived until January 2018 when he moved back to Whitehall. He felt that this was the place of his roots and found a place to live near where he was a part of the Rust family.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Lee and Emma Stoddard, and stepparents, Francis and “Mom” Rust.
He is survived by his daughter, Tawna Stoddard, and granddaughters, Krya Lee Hoaglen and Ella Joy Stoddard of Helena; Uncle Bill Stoddard; cousins, Mark Stoddard and Terri Stoddard, of Durango, Colorado; stepsons, Todd Harms of Spokane, Washington and Kerry Harms (Darla, grandchildren Josh and Caleb) Albany, Georgia; his extended Washington family; and many dear friends.
Services for Gary are pending. Gary and Joyce’s ashes will be interred together in the Whitehall Cemetery once a date has been set. A notice of the service and celebration of his life will be placed in the Whitehall Ledger two weeks prior to the date.
Dad, grandpa, nephew, cousin and Bro Gary -- you will be remembered always for your kind heart, quick twisted wit, and your strong love for Jack Daniels. You will be missed dearly!