Celebrating the life of John Gordon Liggett
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John graduated from Roundup High School in 1937, lived most of his life there, and often expressed that he never wanted to live anywhere else. He attended the University of Montana for one year, where he excelled at fencing and according to his wife, “apparently took some classes.” In 1942 he enlisted in the Army, where he went to Officers’ Candidate School. He was stationed at Iwo Jima as the motor officer of a truck company, and was discharged as a Captain in 1946. Sixty-six years later, he was on the first Montana Honor Flight to Washington, DC.
Back in Roundup as a young man ready to settle down, John joined his father’s insurance and real estate company (later Able, Inc.), where he spent his whole working life. He noticed and then courted Chrycentie Hanson, a new teacher at the high school. Married on August 17, 1947, their union lasted just under 69 years before her death in 2016. He was an attentive and devoted husband, and adored and honored Chris. To them were born five children: Steven, Ann, David, Thomas, and Jane.
John had a life-long love affair with wheels. “If it had wheels, I was interested.” This began with a childhood spent on his roller skates and his bicycle. In adolescence he graduated to cars, and legend has it that he once drove a car up the high school steps. He loved to buy and sell cars, beginning with a 1930 American Austin purchased as a teenager, and ending with his beloved yellow Mustang convertible bought at age 98.
For many years, John collected antique cars, including a Ford Model T, and a Rolls Royce he had imported from England. In middle age, his affections transferred to motorcycles. He and his sons created memories on their Hodaka dirt bikes, and he logged thousands of miles touring on his Honda Gold Wing. His local motorcycle touring club awarded him the annual Shiny Seat Award (for the most miles logged) at least four different years. For a few years, he had a hobby shop selling bicycles from his garage.
Interspersed between work, family, and wheels, John served his community in many capacities. He was active in the VFW and American Legion, Masons, Rotary, Shriners, senior citizen boards, church board, and the development of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries in Billings. His tenure as one of St. John’s first board presidents was recognized with the dedication of the Liggett Care Cottage. He and Chris volunteered delivering Meals on Wheels well into his 90s.
Always a churchgoer, in middle age he attended a Cursillo, which profoundly deepened his faith. He was part of a weekly men’s Bible study until his last year, and was a steady presence at Zion Lutheran Church, where he reluctantly wore the title “head usher.”
John and Chris were generous in their support of their church and many other organizations, as well as on a personal basis. He was a great role model for his children and others, was always present and hands-on, and was a happy, good-natured man. He was faithful to his family, his community, and his God – and also was very fun-loving.
John is survived by four children: Ann Sweeney (Chuck), David (Pam), Tom (Dixie), and Jane Elizabeth (Derek Grimmell); nine grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter; and sister Marion Ryder. He was preceded in death by his wife Chris, son Steven, and sister Marjorie Langenhop.
Due to Covid-19 precautions, a private memorial service will be held Wednesday, November 4, at Zion Lutheran Church. Following that, his and Chris’ ashes will take a final ride in the yellow Mustang to Roundup Memorial Cemetery for burial. Friends are invited to come to the gravesite at 11:30 to greet John’s family.
Memorials have been designated to go to Christikon Lutheran Bible Camp, 1108 - 24th St. W., Billings, Montana 59102.
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17059 US Highway 12 East
Roundup, MT 59072