HAVRE DAILY NEWS Tuesday, March 19, 2002
HARLEM - Francis Bardanouve, 84, died Sunday, March 17, 2002.
Francis was born in Harlem to John and Alice (Miller) Bardanouve on Dec. 10, 1917. Francis’ parents were homesteaders in Blaine County. His maternal grandparents were also early homesteaders, making the present Bardanouve ranch a three-generation operation.
Francis graduated in 1937 from Harlem High School. In 1958, Francis was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, where he served for 36 years making him the second longest-serving legislator in Montana history. In this capacity, Francis was responsible for many important laws that benefited the state he loved.
Francis was a bachelor for many years until he married his wife, Venus, on June 25, 1967 and acquired the family whom he greatly loved. Francis and Venus were awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Montana State University-Bozeman in 1996.
Francis was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Virginia Williams; and an aunt, Freda Hansen.
Survivors include his son, Dr. Kedric Cecil and wife, Johnna, of Havre; daughters, Kathleen Barnes and husband, Guy, of Fountain Valley, Calif. and Elizabeth Kuntz and husband, Reuben, of Harlem; 11 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren. Francis is a beloved son of Montana and will be greatly missed by his many friends, colleagues and family.
Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.
BILLINGS GAZETTE Wednesday, March 20, 2002
HARLEM - Francis was born on Dec. 10, 1917, in Harlem, and died on March 17, 2002, at the age of 84.
He was the son of John and Alice (Miller) Bardanouve, who were homesteaders in Blaine County. Francis' maternal grandparents were also early homesteaders, making the present Bardanouve ranch a three-generation operation.
Francis graduated from Harlem High School in 1937. In 1969, Francis was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, where he served for 36 years, making him the second-longest serving legislator in Montana history. In this capacity, Francis was responsible for many important laws that benefited the state he loved.
Francis was a bachelor for many years until he married his wife, Venus, on June 25, 1967, and acquired the family whom he loved greatly. Francis and his wife Venus were awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Montana State University in 1996.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Virginia Williams; and his aunt, Freda Hansen. Francis' family includes his three children, Kathleen Barnes of Fountain Valley, Calif., Dr. Kedric Cecil of Havre, and Elizabeth Kuntz of Harlem, as well as their spouses, Guy Barnes, Johanna Cecil and Reuben Kuntz. There also are 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Francis is a beloved son of Montana and will be greatly missed by his many friends, colleagues and family.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, March 22, in the Harlem High School Gymnasium. Burial will follow in Harlem Cemetery.
THE HELENA INDEPENDENT RECORD Wednesday, March 20, 2002
HARLEM - Francis Bardanouve was born on Dec. 10, 1917, in Harlem. He
died on March 17, 2002, at the age of 84. He was the son of John and Alice
Francis graduated from Harlem High School in 1937. In 1969, Francis was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, where he served for 36 years making him the second longest-serving legislator in Montana history. Francis and his wife, Venus, were awarded honorary doctorate degrees from MSU-Bozeman in 1996.
He is survived by his wife, Venus; his children, Kathleen (Guy) Barnes of Fountain Valley, Calif., Dr. Kedric (Johnna) Cecil of Havre, and Elizabeth (Reuben) Kuntz of Harlem; 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
His funeral will be held on Friday, March 22, at 2 p.m., at the Harlem High School gym. Burial will follow in the Harlem Cemetery. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Memorial Fund for the benefit of Harlem and Fort Belknap, P.O. Box 367, Harlem, MT 59526.
THE BLAINE COUNRY JOURNAL, NEWS-OPINION Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Francis Bardanouve, 84, life-long resident of Blaine County, passed away on Sunday, March 17, 2002, in the Northern Montana Hospital in Havre from complicatons that developed following colon surgery.
Francis was born on December 10, 1917, in Harlem to homesteaders John and Alice (Miller) Bardanouve. He had one sister, Virginia, and together they grew up on the family farm.
Their mother was determined to see to it that her children had the best education she could provide for them. She wanted them to attend school in Harlem, rather than the small country schools that were nearer the farm. So she sent to them to Harlem where they boarded with her mother during the winter months. Alice would drive a team and wagonload of coal to town every week to cover expenses. She got the coal from the mine on Jack Miller’s (her father) homestead that was just west of where she and the children lived. Her husband John, who had come from France, was kept busy caring for the homestead on Snake Creek.
A very bright child, with a very bad speech impediment, Francis found out early in life how other kids can make your life miserable. Nevertheless, he persevered in reading everything he could get his hands on, often reading by a kerosene lamp far into the night. in 1937 he graduated irom Harlem High School, but if he had any dreams of college they were soon dashed.
His father John, a very stern and no nonsense kind of man, told him, “Francis, you are coming home to the farm. I put you through high school and now it’s time for you to make the farm your life.”
Francis did love farming and the homesteads of the Bardanouyes’ and Millers’ prospered and grew in size under his management. He not only built the Snake Creek operation into one of the largest ranches in Blame County, he also had a partnership on the Fort Belknap Reservation with one of his childhood friends, Ken Zander. Together they grew wheat for nigh onto 20 years.
Francis always ran his large herd of cattle on Fort Belknap, bringing them home when the snow hit. He was always a champion of the Indian people on Fort Belknap.
His initial herd of cattle was inherited from his father, and when his sister Virginia was killed in a car wreck she left her cattle and grass for him to manage. And manage he did, never selling one acre but always increasing his holdings.
A kind and considerate man, Francis was well-liked by his neighbors, some of who had been friends of his since childhood. He always employed local people who needed a hand up, or young kids who might have gotten off on the wrong track.
In 1969 he was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, where he served for the next 36 years (making him the second longest serving legislator in Montana history). He was always willing to listen to the citizens of Blame County and he always had tremendous trust from those who elected him.
The speech impediment that had hampered him throughout his life led him to the love of his life-Venus. She was a speech therapist who had moved to Helena and he went to her for help. In 1967 she became his wife, and at the age of 50 he acquired a ready-made family, which he grew to love dearly.
Francis served as the tight fisted chalrman of the House Appropriations Committee for ten separate legislatures. He played a key role in creating the Legislative Council and the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, He was a major player in the charge to reform the mental institutions at Boulder and Warm Springs. But, the project he loved the most was the Montana State Prison ranch. He was still a board member at the time of his death, and through the years he played a major role in turning the ranch from a business that was losing money at every turn into a viable and paying entity. He often said that his one regret in life was, “1 never got to~ ride my horse over the beautiful landscape that encompassed the prison ranch at Deer Lodge.”
A rancher and farmer to the day of his death, his biggest concern was not for himself, but for his cattle who needed to be moved to the calving pasture. He worried about the wells that had dried up from the drought and the lack of snow that is needed to make the grass grow, the grain come up and mature, and replenish the surface water tnat• is su oaclly depleted.
Francis will always be rernembered in Blame County as a hard working, honest man who
treated everyone with respect, be they politician or farmers down on their luck. He was a man of integrity, a champion of education, and a Democrat to the end. A beloved son of Montana, Francis will be greatly missed by his many friends, colleagues and family.
His funeral will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 22, in the Harlem High School gymnasium, with burial to follow in the Harlem Cemetery. A memorial will be established at a later date. Edwards Funeral Home of Chmnook is in charge of arrangements.
He is survived by his wife Venus of Harlem; three stepchilthen, Kathleen Barns of Fountain Valley, CA, Dr. Kedric Cecil of Havre, and Elizabeth Kuntz of Harlem, as well as their spouses (Guy Barnes, Johnna Cecil, and Reuben Kuntz); eleven step-grandchildren; and ten step great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Virginia Williams; and an aunt, Freda Hansen.
BILLINGS GAZETTE Thursday, March 21, 2002
Bardanouve first elected in 1958
The March 20 obituary for Francis Bardanouve should have said that he was first elected to the state House in 1958. Incorrect information was given to The Gazette
GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE Monday, March 18, 2002
Harlem's Bardanouve dies
By MIKE DENNISON
Tribune Capitol Bureau
HELENA - Francis Bardanouve, a Harlem rancher who rose from the humblest of beginnings to become one of Montana's most influential and respected lawmakers, died Sunday evening in a Havre hospital.
Bardanouve, 84, a Democrat who served 36 years as a state representative over five decades, often is considered the father of the modern Legislature, helping create its independent staff in the 1970s.
He also played a crucial role in reforming the state's institutions for the mentally ill and mentally handicapped in the 1960s.
But, perhaps most of all, he was known for his honesty, kindness and absolute dedication to the public interest.
"Francis Bardanouve had the truest heart of any politician this state has ever known," said former state Rep. Dorothy Bradley of Bozeman. "He was just never diverted by anything except what he thought was right."
Bardanouve underwent surgery for a growth on his colon Friday. He came out of the surgery in good shape, but took a turn for the worse on Sunday and died, according to Terry Cohea, a close friend and former chief fiscal analyst for the Legislature.
"I talked to him 10 minutes before he went into surgery," Cohea said. "His last concerns were for the state budget. ... That's what he was talking about."
Bardanouve was born Dec. 10, 1917, in Harlem. He is survived by his wife, Venus, and three children.
He won election to the House in 1958, at age 41. He would win 17 additional terms, retiring in 1994.
In an interview with the Tribune at the end of his legislative career, Bardanouve said he was "the most hillbilly lawmaker that ever was elected to the Legislature, I think. ... I was absolutely a hermit."
Bardanouve didn't finish high school, said he didn't even know if he was a Democrat or a Republican when he first decided to run.
Among those elected with Bardanouve to the Legislature that year was Ted Schwinden, who went on to become a two-term governor, from 1981-1989.
Schwinden said he first saw Bardanouve on the first day of the 1959 session, at the old Placer Hotel in downtown Helena.
"Francis was dressed just like a citizen of Blaine County," Schwinden recalled. "I wasn't sure whether he was a legislator or not. I asked who he was, he gave his name, and we just went from there."
Schwinden later was best man at Bardanouve's wedding. Bardanouve, who worked to overcome a speech impediment and became known as one of the most persuasive and articulate speakers in the Legislature, married his speech therapist, Venus.
When asked Sunday night what should be said about Bardanouve, Schwinden replied: "You don't have enough room in the paper."
While Bardanouve played a pivotal role in changing the face of the Legislature and state institutions, few in the public would know him. Friends and colleagues said Bardanouve never cared about recognition.
Former attorney general Joe Mazurek remembered a talk Bardanouve gave in 1981 at an orientation for new legislators.
"He told us how, as legislators, we'd be invited out to lunch and dinner, and people would be paying very close attention to us, and if we weren't careful, pretty soon, we'd think the sun rises and sets right here in Helena," Mazurek said.
"He said, 'Don't let that go to your head, because, it never fails: All the sessions I serve here in Helena, I go back to Harlem, and someone passes me on the street and they say, "Francis, where you been all winter? Did you go down south?"'"
Bardanouve was perhaps best known for his role on the House Appropriations Committee, which he chaired during 10 separate legislatures. While he often was considered a budget hawk, he always gave budget requests the closest consideration, colleagues said.
"He treated everyone with the utmost respect," said state Rep. Dave Lewis, R-Helena, who met Bardanouve while working on the governor's budget staff in 1973. "No one ever accused him of acting in any other way than in the best interests of the public. He was so highly principled."
When Bardanouve first arrived at the Legislature, it had no professional staff. Lobbyists and corporate lawyers often wrote many of the bills that were introduced.
In the early 1970s, Bardanouve played a key role in creating the Legislative Council and the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, which became the body's independent, non-political staff.
"I think the fiscal analyst and the Finance Committee have saved millions and millions of dollars," he said in 1994.
Bardanouve also was among the legislators who inspected state institutions in the 1960s, where he found appalling conditions for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped. He helped lead the charge to reform institutions at Boulder and Warm Springs, to move more residents into community settings.
"He believed that the institutions weren't doing right by the people, so he went and lived in the institutions to see what was wrong with them," Cohea said. "He was everything a politician should be."
State Sen. John Cobb, R-Augusta, said Bardanouve helped him get on the Appropriations Committee, and told him what he expected: "He said, 'Be fair, but control the budget.'"
"He was just a good person," Cobb said. "Talk about an example of a person who can pull themselves up and go so far, an example of how people can make a difference no matter where they come from in life."
State Sen. Greg Jergeson of Chinook said he still remembers meeting Bardanouve when he was just 8 years old, at his family's ranch, when Bardanouve was running for the Legislature in 1958.
"He stopped by our farm and had supper with us," Jergeson recalled. "My folks where among that early group that encouraged him to run, and worked on his campaign."
Later, Jergeson himself would run for the Legislature, and looked on Bardanouve as his political mentor.
"He had tremendous trust from his own constituents, and his judgment was relied on from his colleagues," Jergeson said. "He studied the issues. He did more than just analyze the facts.
"If every legislator would model themselves after Francis, the whole state would be better served."
THE MISSOULIAN Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Charles Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena and has covered Montana government and politics for three decades. He welcomes tips, suggestions and comments. His phone numbers are (406) 443-4920 or 1-800-525-4920; his e-mail address is email@example.com <http://csjohnson@qwest..net>.
Funeral services for former state Rep. Francis Bardanouve, D-Harlem, will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Harlem High School gym.
Burial will follow in the Harlem cemetery.
Bardanouve, 84, died Sunday after undergoing surgery on Friday for a growth on his colon.
Those wishing to send cards may send them to his widow, Venus Bardanouve, P.O. Box 367, Harlem, MT 59526.
For those wishing to send a memorial gift, the family suggests the Memorial Fund for the benefit of Harlem and Fort Belknap at the same address.
GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Bardanouve services set
Funeral services for Francis Bardanouve, 84, are 2 p.m. Friday in the Harlem High School gym, with burial in Harlem Cemetery. The longime Hi-Line legislator died Sunday in Havre.
Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook is handling the arrangements
HAVRE DAILY NEWS Tuesday, March 19,2002
Tributes abound for former Rep. Bardanouve
Legendary Hi-Line legislator dies in Northern Montana Hospital Sunday
Francis Bardanouve of Harlem, a legend in Montana politics, will be remembered as a man of great integrity and kindness.
“He made the Legislature a very honorable place because of his integrity,” former state Rep. Dorothy Bradley, D-Bozeman, said of Bardanouve, who was a Democratic state representative from 1958 to 1993. “On top of his integrity he was also fearless and had a steel-trap mind, but he was always kind and helpful.”
Bardanouve died in a Havre hospital Sunday following an operation Friday to remove a tumor on his colon. His wife, Venus Bardanouve, said her husband had been active both in politics and on his ranch, and his death was a horrible surprise.
“He was doing fine, then just went sour and died,” she said. She added that the care he received in Havre was wonderful.
“It wouldn’t have been any better at the Mayo Clinic,” she said. Venus Bardanouve said her husband attended a meeting of the last legislative committee he was active with, the Prison Ranch Committee, just last month. He was a founding member of the committee.
State Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, said Bardanouve’s enormous work ethic was always evident in the Legislature.
“He studied the issues very carefully and beyond just the study and knowledge of the issues he exercised the finest judgment in making policy decisions,” Jergeson said.
Bardanouve’s integrity was involved in all of his work and decisions, Jergeson said. “He had an enormous bond with his constituents, and they trusted him, he trusted them. Francis carried that trust with him in his work in the Legislature,” Jergeson said. “… He was a humble man, despite all of the accolades people gave him. He was very humble, but I think that’s why people knew they could trust him so much. He wasn’t doing it for himself, he was always doing his legislative work for the people.”
Former state Sen. Dorothy Eck, D-Bozeman, said her first experience with Bardanouve was when she was lobbying for the League of Women Voters in the late 1960s. “He was a real inspiration to us because he was so open and direct,” she said.
And that continued when she served with Bardanouve in the Legislature. “He was an inspiration to all of us,” she said.
Bradley said that in the last eight years she was in the Legislature her entire goal was to learn the appropriations process from Bardanouve, who was an expert on the subject.
Bardanouve was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee for 10 legislative sessions. “When we put that budget together I’m sure he knew every dollar of it,” she said. Bradley said Bardanouve had an incredible ability to balance expenses and revenue.
“He seemed to have an inner balance or an inner set of scales of what was essential and what people could afford,” she said.
Former U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., who also served in the Montana House of Representatives with Bardanouve, said the balancing was always difficult for Bardanouve. “He was a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, and, frankly, he always had trouble reconciling the two,” Williams said. But, Williams said, Bardanouve’s intelligence helped with that and other issues. “Francis was the smartest legislator I ever knew, local, state or national,” Williams said. “Along with his quick mind he possessed an earthy commonness that is uncommon among most elected officials. … The Francis you saw was the Francis you got.”
State Rep. Matt McCann, D-Harlem, said Bardanouve’s kindness and hard work were present in all of his life, not just the Legislature. Along with tangible help he gave to the community, like fuel or feed, he had kind personal contact with the people in the area. “What made the most impact to me were the (personal) notes that he wrote,” he said. Bardanouve was not all seriousness and hard work, though.
“He had this wonderful sense of humor,” Bradley said. “He did things no one else could get away with. … He had a very spontaneous sense of humor.” During one heated debate, Bradley said, Bardanouve purposely overreacted and slid under the table. Probably just in time, she added, as it broke the tension in the room.
Williams said the leadership Bardanouve provided created significant improvements in state mental health and prison facilities, greater equity in Montana’s tax policy and an improved fiscal budgeting system, all of which affected all Montanans.
Bardanouve also affected some political careers.
Jergeson, who is now running for a seat on the Public Service Commission, said he remembers meeting Bardanouve at a dinner when he was a child and Bardanouve was campaigning for his first term. It was Bardanouve who influenced him to run for the state Senate in the 1970s. Jergeson suggested that Bardanouve run for the state Senate and that Jergeson would then run for Bardanouve’s House seat. But Bardanouve persuaded him it would be better for Jergeson to run for the Senate, he said. “I ran for the Senate at his instigation, and decided this fall to run for the (state Public Service Commission) at his instigation,” Jergeson said. He said Bardanouve taught and influenced many people during his life. “He was my mentor,” Jergeson said. “He had this enormous capacity to share his skills and his counsel with so many people.”
Venus Bardanouve, who was married to Francis for 35 years, said she first met him while working for the state Board of Health in the early 1960s. She was interviewing people in Montana to get information for the program she headed to help people with cleft palates. She interviewed Bardanouve, who had a cleft palate, and soon he started coming to visit. Then they started dating. Eck said Venus Bardanouve deserves a lot of credit for making him the persuasive speaker he was, helping him to overcome his speech impediment.
Venus Bardanouve said her husband’s death, while a shock, may have been for the best. Along with the colon surgery, the 84-year-old rancher was recently diagnosed with diabetes and needed hip replacement surgery. Being thrown by a bull recently probably didn’t help his hip, either, she said. The convalescence, diabetes and hip replacement could have made his life difficult, especially for such an active man, she said. “I think he was taken from the evil that was to come,” she said. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Bardanouve’s funeral will be Friday at 2 p.m. in the Harlem High School gymnasium, with burial to follow in the Harlem cemetery.
GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE Saturday, March 23, 2002
'Stories' weave common thread through funeral
Bardanouve honored by many
By JO DEE BLACK
Tribune Staff Writer
As some 400 family members, neighbors, friends and colleagues congregated Friday afternoon in the Harlem High School gym to bid farewell to Francis Bardanouve, it was apparent the life of the 84-year-old had been as broad as his endearing grin.
Mourners filed into orange bleachers and brown folding chairs in Wrangler jeans, silk cowboy neck scarves and Carhardt jackets, in suits and ties, in traditional Hutterite apparel and in white nylon jackets embroidered with symbols of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
Each had anecdotes to tell, their own "Francis" stories of experiences with the lifelong Blaine County resident who was raised on his parents' and grandparents' homestead north of Harlem.
Bardanouve died Sunday in a Havre hospital after colon surgery. The Democratic farmer and rancher, elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1958, served 36 years, becoming one of the state's most influential and respected lawmakers.
"Who Francis Bardanouve was went beyond his impressive resume and the well-deserved accolades we've heard this week," said the Rev. Chuck Vanasse of the Harlem Assembly of God Church, who officiated.
Bardanouve's affection for Montana permeated the ceremony. His oak casket, corners accented with carvings of wheat, was draped with the navy blue state flag.
The solemn piano music playing before the service switched to a perky introduction of "Montana" as pallbearers carried the casket to the front, and the family entered. Tears evaporated as mourners sang the chorus.
"Things are measurably better in our homeland because of his work," Dorothy Bradley said in her eulogy. The fellow Democrat served with Bardanouve in the state House of Representatives for several sessions during the '70s, '80s and '90s.
A happy childhood
His upbringing was hard, growing up and eking out a living on a homestead that didn't get electricity until the 1930s, but the Bardanouve home was full of love.
In a recently published collection of writings, Bardanouve's widow, Venus, retells his fond memories. One is of the 10-year-old Francis helping his grandfather during threshing season, eagerly anticipating his duty -- pulling the steam whistle to signal meal time.
The memoir includes a photograph of Bardanouve as in infant in 1919, riding in a flag-draped carriage while his mother, Alice, marched in a parade in support of women's suffrage.
Bardanouve spent his lifetime working and expanding the homestead where he was raised.
When asked not long ago which he'd choose if forced, his Helena life or his Harlem life, he paused quite a while. "I guess I'd take the ranch," he finally answered.
"He loved that land and knew every inch of it," said his daughter, Libby Kuntz.
Overcoming his disability
Remarks from Ted Schwinden, read by the former governor's son, referred to Bardanouve's nickname, Torp. Childhood friend and later business partner Kenny Zanders explained its origin.
Bardanouve was born with a cleft pallet that caused a speech impediment and made him the frequent target of classmates' taunts.
When the teasing got too much, the typically good-natured Bardanouve would blow up like a torpedo, Zanders said.
"When we'd go into a restaurant, he'd want us to order for him, but we'd make him do it himself, and I think it helped him in the long run," Zanders said.
The winter of 1946, Bardanouve disappeared without explanation, Zanders said. "He'd gone to Pennsylvania to have surgery on his cleft pallet, but he hadn't told any of us what he was going to do."
Bardanouve worked hard to overcome his speech impediment so he could go to the Capitol and be heard, Vanasse said.
A humble man
A self-proclaimed "hillbilly" lawmaker, Bardanouve embraced his humble persona wholeheartedly.
"If you saw him on the street, you'd think 'This guy needs a handout'," Kuntz said. "His socks always had holes in them, and it was legendary in our family. It didn't matter how many new pairs of socks we gave him, they always had holes. He picked up a coat off the side of the highway once and wore that for a while."
Many believed wrongly that Bardanouve was not a high school grad. In fact, he graduated from Harlem High School in 1937.
"He told everyone he only attended 11 years of school," said Teresa Cohea, former director of the Legislative Budget Office, which he founded.
What he neglected to add was that he'd skipped a grade and graduated early.
Late to love
Bardanouve married his Helena speech therapist, Venus, when he was nearly 50, becoming stepfather to her three children, who were teens and older at the time.
Nonetheless, the longtime bachelor had the chance to sample parenting a newborn when he and Venus took care of Kuntz's first-born, Brett, for the first 18 months of his life while his mom attended school in Bozeman.
"He had an aversion to messy diapers, but he always tried to do his part, gagging all the way," Kuntz said.
Once when Venus has left the two at home, someone important called to say he was stopping by. Then Brett messed in his cloth diaper. "Francis took him outside and washed him off with the hose, then put his plastic pants back on, with no diaper," she recalled.
He was planning to put the soiled diaper in a burn barrel when the guest arrived. "So he just threw the diaper up on the roof," Kuntz said. "It stayed there for 10 years until my husband took it down."
Kuntz also has fond memories of her parents' relationship.
"They had Scrabble tournaments and kept records," she said. "On their 35th wedding anniversary, they played their 500th game. And they were within just a couple of games of each other. They were pretty evenly matched in a lot of ways."
Friend, neighbor, activist
In Helena circles, the words honesty and integrity are often used in the same breath as Bardanouve.
The same is true in Harlem.
"He was a great man, and I think everyone here thinks the same thing," said Charles Martin, 63. Bardanouve leased grazing land from Martin's mother, Cecilia The Boy, and later the men attended the same church. "I've known him my entire life. This is a great loss for us."
Jim Fox, 47, was a pallbearer. His father, Henry, was a hired hand for Bardanouve for 30 years.
"I really got to know Francis after my dad died in 1994," Fox said.
Bardanouve loaned Fox money to buy his seven siblings' shares of their father's 400 acres on the Fort Belknap Reservation. He charged Fox 2 percent lower interest than the bank that turned down his loan application would have charged.
After that, the two often rode horses together, and Bardanouve would recall stories of Fox's father.
Two weeks ago, Fox presented Bardanouve with a star quilt appliqued with his friend's brand, the U.S. Bar.
"I put it around his shoulders, like Indian people do ... it was a very emotional moment," Fox said. "I'm told he was very honored by the quilt. I'm glad now I did it."
The quit was displayed at the funeral, along with family, childhood and political photographs.
Thanks, Blaine County
Hard to believe, but Bardanouve wasn't always held up as the ultimate example of what a lawmaker should be, said John LaFaver, the state's first legislative budget director.
Some Democrats wanted to spend more money than he did. Republicans often bristled at his environmental stands.
Had Bardanouve been from an urban part of Montana, special interest groups would have worked to have him defeated, LaFaver said.
"He was very lonely at first in Helena and wondered if anyone understood what he was trying to accomplish."
The people of Blaine County did, re-electing him 17 times, LaFaver said. "We owe you a tremendous debt of thanks."
The last ride
Bardanouve's casket was taken from the service to the Harlem Cemetery in a black, horse-drawn hearse from the 1890s owned by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.
Bim Strauser led Bardanouve's riderless horse, boots facing backwards to signify a fallen comrade.
As the procession made its way through town, it passed government buildings with flags at half staff, waving goodbye.