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Helen Mae Thompson Dayton
May 17, 1926 ~ December 12, 2016
August 3, 2017
Helen Mae Thompson Dayton, born May 17, 1926, to John B. and Bernice Thompson in Missoula, Montana, passed away on December 12, 2016, at the age of 90. A small graveside service will be conducted at Grandview Cemetery, Bonners Ferry, at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 5.

Helen Mae was one of three daughters and she lived her beginning years at the Priest River Experimental Forest Station from 1928 to 1937, where her father was superintendent. It was there that she developed her love of nature and animals.

She remembered going to school in a one room school house and living through the Great Depression. The family then moved to Bonners Ferry,
where she lived until she graduated high school.

Helen Mae was valedictorian of her 1944 graduating class from Bonners Ferry High School, as well as a cheerleader and member of the band, playing the clarinet.

After graduation, instead of attending college, Helen Mae, along with her older sister Louise, adventured to Honolulu, Hawaii, to work on Hickam Field repacking parachutes as part of the war effort. While there, she played in a jazz band. She remembered how scary it was travelling by boat to Hawaii with the Japanese army coming to the Pacific.

On March 1, 1946, she eloped with her high school sweetheart, Perry (Alan) Dayton. In attendance at the ceremony were her parents.

They raised four children, moving frequently due to Alan’s positions with the federal government. Upon their retirement in 1977, they relocated to Victor, Montana, in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley.

There they built their dream house, which was designed by Helen Mae. She had a lifelong passion for architecture and home design. Once there, she vowed that she would never move again. She loved working on her house and being outdoors.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Perry A. Dayton, son Kip Dayton and grandson Michael Minnerath. She is survived by her daughters, Alice M. (Kenneth Minnerath) Laurel, Montana, and Ann D. (Henry W Taylor, Jr.) West Palm Beach, Forida, and her son Scott L. (Sandy Wittman) Dayton, Hanover Park, Illinois. She is also survived by her grandchildren Brett, Andrea, Holly and Aaron Minnerath, Peter and Christopher Dayton (Scott) and Travis and Matthew Dayton (Kip), as well as 10 great grandchildren, her sister Betty Henderson and daughter-in-law Cheryl Hay.

Her family will greatly miss her independent spirit and the love that she always showed all of them.