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MTHS Announces Heritage Award Winners

A lifelong historian, the cofounder of a local museum and a civic leader and philanthropist are the 2023 Montana Heritage Keeper Awardees, with the USS Montana Committee as this year’s Heritage Guardian Award honoree.

Awardees must have demonstrated commitment to a significant Montana history project or projects or to the identification and preservation of objects or property of general or specific significance to Montana history and culture. Organizations also must have a demonstrated record of accomplishment to the preservation and celebration of Montana’s historical and cultural heritage.

Ellen Baumler of Helena, Ramona Holt of Lolo and Gene Thayer of Great Falls recently were chosen by the Montana Historical Society’s board of trustees to receive the prestigious award. The awards honor exemplary commitment, effort and impact in identifying, preserving and presenting Montana’s historical and cultural heritage for current and future generations.

While Montana is fortunate to have had incredible professional historians, none have surpassed Ellen Baumler in her exceptional capacity to connect with the public and K-12 students.

“Her ability to share her passion with almost everyone — making the past relevant, understandable, and enjoyable — is what makes her contributions so far reaching,” noted Kirby Lambert in the nomination materials. “At the same time, she retains the respect of academics and regularly lectures to college classes and volunteers on PhD advisory committees.”

Ramona Holt, along with her late husband Bill, dedicated endless time and resources to collecting and preserving Western art and memorabilia. In 1999, they opened the Holt Heritage Museum on Highway 12 west of Lolo.

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