Butte has lost a giant in more ways than one.
Haley Beaudry, who found glory as an athlete, served Butte as a Republican legislator, always fought hard for the Mining City and the mining industry he loved, and both built and blew things up with world-class skill, died Monday. He was 74.
Friends and family members this week remembered a huge, imposing, smiling man who loved people — and made the world a better place.
“He was an entirely good and decent human being,” former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot said Thursday. "He taught me a lot about how to live a life.”
Beaudry grew up on Butte’s East side and went to Butte High School. He played football on the Bulldogs’ legendary state championship team of 1964, and also was a heavyweight state champion wrestler. At 6 feet 3 inches and close to 300 pounds, he was a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. After a year on the Montana State football team, he played for two years at Montana Tech, where he received dual bachelor of science degrees in math and mining engineering.
His career began with the Bechtel Corp. in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bechtel sent him all over the world before Western Energy, a subsidiary of Montana Power, brought him back to Montana. Beaudry was a project manager for the Rosebud Mine and oversaw the expansion of mining to fuel Colstrip Units 3 and 4. He also served as manager of mine services for Western.
He co-founded White Resources Corp., and in that role evaluated mining operations for foreign investors.
It was on a demolition job that he met his wife, Elizabeth, in Arkansas.
“He was blowing up a bridge,” she said. “I was working as a waitress at my mother’s restaurant, and he would come in every night for dinner.”
The couple married in 1974 and settled in Butte, where they raised a family of three daughters – Aimee, Renee and Haley Ann.
His daughters reminisced Thursday about growing up with a father who taught them there were absolutely no limits to what they could accomplish.
“We did sports but we did girly things too, and whatever it was, he was behind us 110 percent,” Aimee said. “He used to say you girls will all go to Montana Tech and become mining engineers.
“Only one of us — Renee — actually did that.”
It was as a demolition expert that Beaudry became best known in industry. He owned and operated Emerald Engineers LLC., specializing in blasting, demolition and drilling. He was renowned for his incredible accuracy — using just enough explosive to get the job done without causing undue hazard.
Renee remembers going with him to blast sites.
“He would have several dozen holes, and he would pack them with different amounts of dynamite. He would look at a hole and say, four sticks, no, maybe three and a half, and then he’d add maybe a thumb’s width to that. He always knew. Always.
“He would say after the blast, ‘Look, girl, no fly rock.’ No rock flying around needlessly.”
Having a father of his size — and humor — meant that when one of the sisters would have a beau come to pick her up, Haley would often send a subtle message. “He loved guns, and whenever a boy would come over, the guns would be out getting cleaned,” Renee said. “And when he was done with the guns, he would be sharpening his knives. We had very clean guns, very sharp knives and very scared dates.”
Beaudry was an avid and expert outdoorsman, a top-notch fisherman and hunter, and he continually advocated for access to the out of doors for “the common man,” his brother Mac said Thursday.
“He could gut an elk cleaner and faster than anybody I’ve ever seen,” he added.
"He taught us girls all how to row,” Renee said, “so he could fish off the back of the raft.”
Friend after friend remembered his sense of humor, his love of Butte and his eternally smiling, optimistic outlook.
“He could have been a standup comedian,” his longtime friend Lee Alt said. “What a storyteller. He was a complete, total, 100 percent people person. He didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone.”
Racicot said his friendship with Beaudry began during the attorney general’s race in 1988. “In those days you just got in your pickup and drove around the state,” Racicot said. “I always liked to come to Butte even though it was notoriously leaning the other way politically. But I knew I had Haley and Judy (Martz) there.”
“Haley had the biggest hands of anybody I ever shook hands with,” Racicot said. “And he was strong. Oh, my he was strong. When he grabbed your hand, you knew you had been shaken.”
His family, though, remembered how gentle he was. Renee recalled getting a pet rabbit, and how he held that tiny rabbit in those huge hands. “He had a big heart for every living thing.”
Several people, including family members and Racicot, remarked that being elected to the Legislature as a Republican was a mark of just how well-liked Beaudry was in Butte. He was the first to do so in nearly half a century when he was elected in 1996, handily outpolling Democrat Scott Mitchell.
Beaudry was a natural politician. His love of people, an ability to listen, and outstanding public speaking skills served him well in that arena.
“He loved being the people’s representative,” Mac Beaudry said. “He wasn’t there as a politician, he was there to serve the people of Butte.”
When it came time to run for reelection, Beaudry said, it was difficult for him. “He would have a choice between going to a fund-raiser or a campaign event and working, and work would take precedence.”
He continued to use both political contacts and skills later in life. He was a confidant to Martz, his close Butte friend; to Racicot; and to U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns. And he lobbied for mining and industrial interests including Colstrip, Billings power plants and Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.
He would frequently be asked to make a speech on short notice, and he would sit for a few moments, making notes on a 3x5 index card, then get up and deliver a flawless address. “He never once gave a speech that was written out in advance,” Mac Beaudry said.
Even those who were far apart from him politically liked and admired him.
“We were good friends. There was nobody more amiable and friendly to the world than Haley,” said longtime Democratic political and economic development figure Evan Barrett. “I used to tease him that he was to the right of Attila the Hun. Then he’d call me a socialist and we’d proceed to have a friendly and energetic political discussion. He was just so likable.”
Beaudry served for a time as president of the Butte Chamber of Commerce, and was an indefatigable supporter of the city. He served on the Montana Tech Foundation board and was a frequent guest lecturer and instructor at Tech.
“Our university appreciates the passion and dedication that Haley had for Montana Tech,” Chancellor Les Cook said Thursday. “We admire and recognize his service … and will miss his smiling face at Oredigger events.”
Joe McClafferty, CEO of the Montana Tech Foundation and vice chancellor for development and alumni engagement, said Beaudry “was an amazing board member and a wonderful person. He was devoted to Montana Tech for a very long time. It’s easy to fall in and out of love with something, but he kept that love of Tech forever.”
As a board member, McClafferty said, “He did a really good job of listening. He brought a unique understanding of how the university worked and of the industry we serve. He would hear everything, then offer his guidance. He was always concise and right to the point.”
One of his fellow board members was Pat O'Brien, originally from Whitehall and a lifelong friend. O'Brien, who played basketball at Tech when Beaudry was playing football there, said that after they became friends, Beaudry would call him at home in Whitehall, and if his mother answered, Beaudry would say, "Hi, Mrs. O'Brien, did you need anything blown up today?"
O'Brien and Beaudry both tended bar at Vu Villa.
"Haley was good to have behind the bar," O'Brien said. "He was a pretty intimidating presence. And if any trouble started, he ended it quickly."
Beaudry was construction chairman for the U.S. High Altitude Sports Center in Butte, and served on the United Way board; the Montana Workforce Investment Board; the Governor’s Energy Task Force; the Montana Board of Professional Engineers; the Economic Development Corporation; the Montana Coal Council; the Environmental Quality Council; and others.
In recent years, Beaudry was working as project manager on a large construction project in the Bakken.
Matt Vincent recalled Thursday that when Vincent was wrestling at Butte High, “they had pictures of past state champions on the wrestling room wall. I remember looking up at the picture of Haley and being inspired by this big monster of a guy in a wrestling outfit with a Gerber baby face. … He always had that twinkle in his eye.”
Northey Tretheway, who worked at Colstrip as director of engineering at the mine when Beaudry worked there, said, “He was the most personable guy you would ever want to talk to. He was always interested in what you were doing, what was going on. He was very experienced and knowledgeable about everything he worked on, and he always had a huge commitment to Butte.”
Tretheway said he will miss getting together with Beaudry at Silver B’s events.
Dan Killoy graduated from Butte Central the same year Beaudry graduated from Butte High. Over the years, they became inseparable friends.
When Beaudry came back to Butte and became active in civic affairs, Killoy was advertising manager at The Montana Standard, and they served on many boards and committees together.
"I've never known a better man," Killoy said. "He was a Butte guy when it was very tough to be a Butte guy — and a Republican."
When Beaudry served in the Legislature, Killoy was living in Helena, so Beaudry stayed at his house during the session.
Killoy said Thursday, "In the last four years there hasn't been a day that Haley and I haven't talked or been together. I have no idea how I will fill that void. Well, yeah I do, I'm just going to keep talking to him. He'd better listen."
Beaudry "left the world a great deal better than it was when he entered,” Racicot said Thursday, “due to the power of his personality and outlook.
“And he loved Butte to the core.”
A celebration of Haley Beaudry’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday April 17 at the Copper King Convention Center’s grand ballroom. In lieu of flowers , the family asks that memorials in Haley’s name go to the Montana Tech Foundation, 1300 W. Park Ave., Butte, MT 59701. Those funds will all be applied to the Haley Beaudry Engineering Scholarship Fund, which is in the process of being established.