Celebrating the life of Johan 'John' Clifford Stene
Be the first to share your favorite memory, photo or story of Johan 'John'. This memorial page is dedicated for family, friends and future generations to celebrate the life of their loved one.
We ask on behalf of the family that you keep your comments uplifting and appropriate to help all who come here to find comfort and healing.
Johan (John) Clifford Stene was born on April 30, 1940, to Bjarne and Astrid Stene in Big Timber Montana, joining older sister Gertrude. John’s early years were full of movement. That fall, the family moved to Columbus where Bjarne got a job working for a man named Skipstad. In the fall of 1941, the family moved to the Miles place a few miles west of Livingston. While still living there, in 1944, brother Martin was born into the family. In 1945, the family moved to the Hawks Place just 3 miles east of Big Timber, and John started his schooling at Dry Creek School. A notable event here was the immigration to Big Timber of Astrid’s brother and sister-in-law Paul and Elisabeth, with their kids Oddlaug and Leif Oskar. Their son Einar was born later in 1951, and all the kids became very close. In July of 1949, Oscar was born and thus completed Bjarne and Astrid’s family. In 1952, when John was 12, the family moved into Big Timber for a month, and then out to the Busha Place, just out of town. That fall he started school in town at Big Timber Grade School. He was also confirmed into the Lutheran Church. He graduated from Sweet Grass County High School in 1958. John then enlisted in the Army National Guard for six months of active duty. He first went to Fort Ord in California for basic training, and then on to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where he went into the Combat Engineers. After his active-duty stint was over, he came back to Big Timber, but he was still obligated to the Montana National Guard where his unit was changed to Armored Calvary. He had eight years of weekly meetings and two weeks of camp every summer where he became an operator of an armored personnel carrier. One of the best stories he had of this time was when he was training with his unit up in the mountains. Something happened to the tank he was driving, and he ended up driving it straight down the mountain and stopping it by running into a big slash pile! During the Berlin Crisis, his unit of armored calvary was put on a Priority 1 alert, and they were to be deployed to Germany the next week. However, tensions eased by that time, so they were reduced priority, and in the following weeks returned to normal. Then, as the Vietnam War escalated, his unit again was bumped up to Priority 1, but due to political pressure from the US Congress, the US president reduced them back down to Priority 2, and John’s unit was not bumped in Priority for the rest of the war. For many years and during this time, he worked for Franklin Grosfield whose ranch was located up in John’s beloved Crazy Mountains. In 1962 his sister and brother-in-law Gert and Bill purchased the Dempster place, and Astrid and Bjarne bought the Rapstad Place two miles north of Big Timber on Big Timber Creek, and John settled down into being a rancher. John was immensely proud of the ranch which was dubbed Viking Spring Ranch. It was his haven, his therapist, his church. In 1972 a new girl came to town, and on October 13, 1973, he married Bonnie Lea DeKraker. They went on to have three daughters, (his “bugs”) Jeneva, Onna, and Johanna, all who loved to go out with Pa doing ranch stuff. John was busy ranching and working various jobs in Big Timber. And without fail, stopping most every day at 10:00 to have coffee with family and some very wonderful friends! In 2000, they welcomed their first two grandkids, Joel in May, and Cole in July. In 2003, they welcomed their first granddaughter Jaylea. 2011 brought a second granddaughter, Genevieve, and 2014 a third, Vivienne. Finally, in 2015 their last grandson, Dexter, was born. John and Bonnie lived on the ranch until 2016, when they moved up to Belgrade by their youngest daughter, Johanna and her husband Mike. In his retirement he enjoyed watching TV, watching the birds and anything else that was going on outside the window, and most especially visits from the grandkids. He passed away quietly in his sleep December 27th, after spending the holiday with his wife and all his "bugs”, big and little.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Bjarne and Astrid, and sister and brother-in-law Gertrude and Bill.
He is survived by his wife Bonnie, his daughters Jeneva, Onna, and Johanna (Mike), grandkids Joel, Cole, Jaylea, Genevieve, Vivienne, and Dexter, brothers Martin (Elaine) and Oscar (Darlene), cousins Einar (Pam) and Oddlaug (Don), other very special in-laws, cousins, and a multitude of wonderful nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews and very dear friends.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, January 5, 2023 at 11:00A.M. at the Big Timber Lutheran Church with interment following at Mountain View Cemetery. A reception to follow downstairs at The American Legion.
To plant a tree in memory of Johan 'John' Clifford Stene, visit the Tribute Store.
115 West 4th Avenue
PO Box 278
Big Timber, MT 59011
Interment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery and a reception will follow at the American Legion Club
West of Big Timber
Big Timber, MT 59011