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Gene Peterson Godfrey

(Nov. 3, 1937 - July 21, 2012)

Cowley native Gene Peterson Godfrey died peacefully Saturday, July 21 of natural causes. He was 74.

Memorial services are scheduled Thursday, July 26, with a viewing 9 a.m. and a funeral at 10 a.m. at the LDS Church in Laurel, Mont.

Interment at 3 p.m. in the Cowley Cemetery will follow services in Montana.

He developed COPD several years ago and worked closely with many professional doctors. Gene remained committed to his family, friends and church. His family was his life and he was very dedicated to them and loved them very much.

Gene was born Nov. 3, 1937, the son of Erastus Dudley (Dick) and Alda Dale Peterson Godfrey. He was a twin to Dean Peterson Godfrey. The twins were born seven weeks premature. As there were no incubators at the time, his twin died Nov. 5, 1937. Gene never started being an active baby until the full term was over. Around the end of December, he started moving like a normal baby. As is so common with premature babies having problems with hearing and eye sight, both affected Gene in later life.

Throughout his childhood and teen years, Gene was always with his dad anytime that he could. They trailed a lot of cattle over the years together.

From the time he was 9, he drove tractors and worked on farms and ranches whenever he was not in school.

Gene graduated from Cowley in 1956. During the last three years of high school, he lettered in both basketball and football. During those three years Cowley High School placed first in state football two years and state runner-up the other year.  In basketball they placed first in state one year and state runner-up for the other two years.

In 1955 Gene joined the Wyoming National Guard. He served in the National Guard until 1957, when he moved to Billings. In Montana he transferred to the Army Reserves. He served as a clerk to the adjutant general. It was while he was in the Army Reserves that it was discovered he had a blue green color blindness. He was discharged in 1963 with the rank of sergeant.

Upon graduating from high school, Gene attended Eastern Montana College for the first year. He then transferred to Northwest Community College at Powell the second year.

In 1957, Gene met Ila Marie Sigmon. They were married Aug. 22, 1958, at the Cowley LDS Church. To this union were born four children: Alan, Trent, Brian and Karie. Gene’s wife and children always were foremost to him.  He endeavoured to do many things as a family, and the children all grew up enjoying the outdoors.

At the time of his marriage he was working at the Big Horn Canning Co. After he married, he transferred with the company to Billings. He later went to work for Uglum’s 66 service station, and the couple then transferred to Great Falls for two years.

He desired to continue his education so the end of 1961 he quit his job and moved the family back to Billings, where he enrolled at Eastern Montana College.

Needing income to support the young family, the young couple purchased a dairy on Hallowell Lane. He went to work for Tractor and Equipment Company in 1962.  He worked there for the next 25 years as V.P. finance and treasurer. He went on to work for Henry’s Safety Supply as chief financial officer and Northwest Peterbuilt as a finance manager.

In 1987 Gene retired, working on the side as a financial consultant. The consulting work kept him busier than he would have liked, but he enjoyed the challenges of each business.

During the past couple of years, Gene worked extensively on his family history, which he enjoyed.  It was his last wish to put together a book about his family so the rich and varied history would not be lost.

He had many hobbies, including ranching, genealogy, coin and stamp collecting, rock hunting, and working with family histories. He loved outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, golf, rock hunting and exploring the outdoors. He taught all his children skiing. His approach to any hobby was to thoroughly learn about it.

In 1991, Gene and his wife purchased their dream place in the country. He discovered his love for animals, and they acquired all kinds of animals, including llamas. They raised more than 55 llamas at the peak. 

He was preceded in death by his wife Ila, parents, two brothers, William K. Godfrey and Dick.

Gene is survived by three sons and one daughter: Alan (Tammy), Trent, Brian, Karie, of Billings; a special second mother, Mamie Sigmon of Joliet, Mont.; sisters Sharon (Ken) Blackburn and Greta (Pres) Workman; brothers Dennis (Rose) Godfrey and Lyle (Carol) Sigmon; much-loved grandkids Christina (Rodney), Nicholas (Ashley), Daniel, Cale and  Hailey; and one great-grandchild.


  • posted by Jessie Hanna

    July 29, 2012 1:03 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I know he is happy now, reunited with Mom! Although he and I didn't always get along, I was a part of the family for a number of years and still care about you all.


  • posted by Karie Godfrey

    July 27, 2012 9:45 am

    I wanted to say thank you for all the love and support of family and friends. My father’s last wish was to secure the family history and write a book. For family members wishing to do this please contact me p.o. box 50792, billings, montana 59105.

    It is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. The task is undaunting and difficult and the truth is the devil is in the details.

    We all grieve differently and time does heal. Thank you all for your generosity and caring letters about my father and being a part of his life no matter how small the impact was greatly touched.

    Sincerely, Karie Godfrey Billings, MT

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