The world is gonna have to make do without one more good hand. Dick headed out to see what's beyond on Saturday, March 1. Born on Sept. 26, 1922, to Frank Lentz and Izetta LaFrance in Minot, N.D., Dick spent his early years raising cain and working summers on the family homestead just outside of Maxbass.
He was raised by his Grandpa Joe and Aunt Murrey LaFrance until his stint as a paratroop infantry scout during World War II. He always said the jumpers were the only ones crazy enough to have him.
After the war, Dick took after two things makin' a living and a pretty gal named Esther Olivia "Ole" Norberg. Even though Ole had more than a few qualified suitors, she thought Dick was the best shot at an exciting life so they got hitched to the same wagon at 7 a.m. on Dec. 28, 1947, so Dick could get to studying to be a veterinarian at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Nancy was born there. After vet school, they stopped for a bit in Dickinson, N.D., where Dick started his illustrious career doctoring animals of all sorts, including cowhands who had worked on Teddy Roosevelt's ranch. Jim was born there.
Dick, Ole and the first two kids landed in Bridger, Mont., looking for a warmer climate and found even warmer friends (you know who you are). The last three members of the tribe; Jeff, Dan and BethAnn, found their way into the world there. After 20 years, unusual events surrounding the cattle market crash of 1974 caused Dick, Ole and BethAnn to pull up stakes and either move to Kenya or Hardin, Mont. Esther and BethAnn chose Kenya but Dick "vetoed" their vote and moved his family to Hardin, where Dick went into practice there to make a living and to make even more good friends (you know who you are).
"Doc" LaFrance was preceded in death by his wife, Esther Olivia, and too many good friends (you know who you are).
He is survived by: his five kids, Nancy Free, Jim (Val) LaFrance, Jeff (Tami) LaFrance, Dan (Kay) LaFrance and BethAnn (Mike) Stenerson, seven grandkids, seven great-grandkids and even more good friends (you know who you are).
Services (followed by a bite to eat) will be held at the fairgrounds in Hardin on Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m.
Memorials in place of flowers can be sent to: The Jailhouse Gallery, 320 North Center Ave., Hardin, MT 59034.
Compadre, warrior, medicine man.we'll miss you Dick. Adios.
(Smith Funeral Chapels, Billings, Mont.)