Honorable Ronald C. Marlenee
Former Congressman Ron Marlenee, 84, died Sunday, April 26, 2020, in Bozeman.
He was born Aug. 8, 1935, in Scobey to Charles and Margaret (Darchuk) Marlenee. He was later joined by brothers, Bob and Lanny. The family homesteaded in a tar paper shack north of Scobey while Charles with his wife, Margaret, started and operated a farm through both a depression and a world war. The oldest of three, responsibility set in early and hard work became the mainstay of his life.
He graduated from Scobey Schools and attended Montana State University and the University of Montana before being called back to work on the family farm. He attended and graduated from the Reisch School of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa, and used his skills throughout his life auctioneering livestock throughout Montana and later on the campaign trail, donating his time for good causes. He was also proud to be a Freemason and a Shriner.
He married Carmen Willard and together they had five children, David, Mike, Sheila, Casey and Allison. In 1978, he married Cindy Tiemann who became his wife, political partner and best hunting and fishing buddy.
In 1976, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in what was a rare Republican win in a disastrous election for the GOP on the heels of Watergate. Democrats dominated Montana politics, particularly at the federal level. He was one of only two Republican candidates elected that year in the state.
While in Congress, he served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources committees and was known as a fierce fighter for the common man against a bureaucracy. He enjoyed working with President Ronald Reagan and referred to him as “the greatest politician and leader” he had ever met. They remained friends for many years.
He was elected to Congress seven more times and, in 1992, due to the census, Montana lost one of its two seats in Washington, D.C. This pitted the two Montana congressmen against each other in an epic political battle that garnered national attention. He lost to Pat Williams in an extremely close and well-fought race.
After leaving Congress, he went on to represent Safari Club International, a hunting conservation group in D.C., until retiring to his home in Bridger Canyon north of Bozeman. Throughout their lives, he and Cindy traveled extensively and were blessed to have made many lifelong friends.
While he was best known for his political life, he is most fondly remembered as a father and grandfather. He created many adventures and memories for his children and grandchildren in the Bridger Mountains at the family cabin. There was always a new adventure or mystery to solve in their beloved Sherwood Forest. Hidden among the castles and the forts were buried treasures to be found, frog hunting from the pirate ‘paddle' boat and rope swings from massive trees down to the slide into the icy water at the pond. He always had a luge built when the grandchildren arrived in the winter with plenty of sleds and, of course, skiing at Bridger Bowl and his famous hot cocoa. In staying with his childhood tradition, he organized family fishing trips to Canada.
He was happiest working on the hill whether it was in D.C. or at Bridger Bowl where he was building a legacy of love for his grandchildren. He was especially affected by his grandson Jake's death two years ago. His heart was weakened from that moment on.
He is survived by his wife, Cindy of Bozeman; children, Sheila Wolff of Billings, Casey of Bozeman and Boise, Idaho and Allison Helland of Glasgow; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Bob and Lanny; sons, David and Mike; and grandson, Jacob.
Due to the pandemic, memorial services are planned for Aug. 8 at the Springhill Presbyterian Church in Bozeman.