Solomon Wegner


(April 23, 2003)

Funeral services were conducted Saturday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Belfry, Mont., for Solomon Wegner, 91, of Powell, who died Wednesday, April 23 at the Powell Valley Care Center.

St. John's Lutheran in Belfry was his church home for more than 50 years. Burial with military honors was in the Belfry Cemetery, with Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel of Red Lodge in charge of arrangements.

He was born Oct. 4, 1911, at Susannenthal, Russia, the fifth child born to Edward and Wilhelmina Lehman Wegner. He was baptized in the Lutheran church his German immigrant grandparents helped build.

With the Bolsheviks gaining power, and fearing for the safety of their young family, Solomon's parents began their journey to America in August 1912. After a detour to Argentina where his dad and uncle worked on a wheat and cattle ranch, the Wegners continued their trip via Cuba and Mexico, arriving in Billings, Mont., on Dec. 13, 1913.

Solomon grew up on ranches in the Billings, Belfry and Absarokee areas. Following his father's death, the Absarokee ranch was sold, and he worked as a foreman on a sheep ranch in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. When World War II broke out, he moved back to Billings and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the Pacific Theater.

While on furlough, he and Katherine Fink were married in Trinity Lutheran Church, Billings, on July 2, 1943. After his discharge, they began their life together in Lovell where he worked for the Ohio Oil Company (Marathon), drilling for oil and natural gas across Wyoming.

In 1948, they moved to their farm north of Belfry with their two young sons. They sold their farm in 1970 and moved into Belfry. He continued to work on area farms and ranches. In 1997, they moved to Powell to be near their son.

Survivors include his wife, Katherine Wegner of Powell; son Dennis Wegner and wife Barbara of Powell and son Stanley Wegner and wife Regina of Park City, Mont.; grandsons Lee Wegner and family of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Peter Wegner and family of Tigeras, N.M.; granddaughters Beth Wegner of San Francisco, Calif., Adrienne Wegner of Billings and Allison Wegner and family of Park City; two brothers, Earl Wegner of Bremerton, Wash., and Edward Wegner of Billings; a sister, Mary Knuettel in Wisconsin; five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Dorthy Ottolino, Amelia Nauman, Theresa Ennis and Wilhelmina Chapman; and brother Carl Wegner.

Memorials may be given to the Lutheran Hour Ministries, 660 Mason Ridge Center, St. Louis, MO 63141, or to the charity of one's choice.