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Stephen H. Dalby, 81

| March 18, 2022 7:00 AM

On Jan. 12, 2022, exactly six months before his 82nd birthday, Stephen H. Dalby reached out and touched the hand of his loving savior after a three-month hospitalization and complications from bypass surgery. He was with the love of his life, Patti.

It was a dramatic ending to an extraordinary battle he valiantly and quietly fought throughout his life starting as a four-year-old with perthes, later experiencing necrotizing fasciitis in his leg, struggling with progressive and debilitating scoliosis, and undergoing numerous surgeries and heart procedures. Despite his health issues, Steve never complained.

Steve was born on June 12, 1940, in Billings. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Lucille Dalby, and sister, Jan Frazier.

Steve grew up in Billings, where from age 12 he worked at various jobs, including pinsetter at the local bowling alley, delivering newspapers on his bicycle, working on a loading dock and as a model for the Vaughn Ragsdale men’s clothing store. Steve graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in political science and attended the University of Montana School of Law, graduating in 1966. Steve practiced law for more than 55 years, beginning in Great Falls and Missoula before finally landing in Libby where he also served as a public defender. He retired from full-time practice in December of 2020. Steve would have continued working if his health had permitted it, because he truly enjoyed the law profession.

Steve volunteered many hours of public service during his lifetime, serving on various community organizations, including the Libby Hospital Board of Directors, the Montana Bar Association and Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley, serving as secretary for over 13 years. A lifelong Episcopalian and member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Libby, he served as senior warden for many years.

Steve was a voracious reader and lover of a good book. The people who knew him describe him as “a true gentleman” and “a gentle man.” “He was a mentor to anyone who would seek his counsel and gave well-thought out, tempered advice.” Steve was humble, kind and appreciative.

Steve’s favorite activities were downhill skiing and golfing at many of Montana’s beautiful courses. Steve loved living along the Kootenai River, visiting with friends and family, watching the humming birds, eagles, osprey and abundant wildlife as he relaxed in his gazebo watching the river flow by. He loved playing grandpa’s dice, pinochle and many other card and board games. In the summer, he enjoyed boating and fishing on Lake Koocanusa with special friends. He enjoyed good food and Patti’s culinary and gardening talents. He delighted in telling the story of when he met Patti in Missoula and how they were both born in the same room of the same hospital in Billings, exactly 10 years apart. They celebrated their birthdays together. In March, they were planning on celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary.

Steve is survived by his wife, Patricia (Patti) Reichert-Dalby; children, Lindsay Huie (Bryson) of Bonney Lake, Wash., Heidi Lane of Kalispell, Adam Close (Jade) of Siem Reap, Cambodia, Carissa Hardy of Covington, Ky., Stephen Dalby of Milford, Ohio; and many grandchildren.

Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Arrangements are by Schnackenberg Funeral Home in Libby. Online condolences and memories may be shared at www.schnackenbergfh.com.

Life is short. “All things that live, die. This is why you must find joy in the living, while the time is yours, and not fear the end. To deny this is to deny life. To fear this, is to fear life.” (Joe Kelly)