POLSON — Ron Valiquette, 85, residing in Polson, died of cardiac arrest on May 15, 2018, at the International Heart Institute in Missoula during a heart procedure.
Ron was born the eighth of nine boys to Odile Boyer and Eugene Valiquette in Springfield, Massachusettes, on Dec. 30, 1932. His father was a barber and a cigar maker. The family moved to a large farm at Derby Line, Vermont, when Ron was about 11 years old. He learned to be a dairy farmer and work the maple sugar orchard, even the "sugar shack." By age 13, he charged into the world getting various jobs of making donuts, milking cows, and even in charge of a prize dairy herd at age 16. His new employer realized Ron was worthy of having a formal education and sponsored his enrollment in several schools in New England. Before leaving the farm, he had only a third grade education.
Education opened the world to him and he lovingly got his mother to sign for him so he could go into the Navy; the seas were calling. The Navy was always his soul, from deck hand, to helmsman, to becoming a pilot on the carriers. His education was not necessarily in a classroom, always learning by experiences. He served his country in the Korean War. After the Navy, he ended up in Southern California where his parents and brothers had settled. Ron continued flying as a private pilot until his death.
His professions included carpenter, general contractor, snow ski instructor, estimator, draftsman, developer, test and private pilot, car renovator, navigator of land and sea, mariner, ship’s captain, yacht builder, yachtsman, racehorse trainer and owner, to name a few, and he achieved proficiency in all of his endeavors. As he aged he was honored to be a Montana Mason, accepted into the Scottish Rite, a member of the Bagdad Shrine Temple at Butte and the Royal Order of Jesters. In these groups he developed a great desire to aide in the needs of children, namely, the Shrine Hospital at Spokane, Washington, and the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
In 1980 he survived a severe hurricane on the Pacific Ocean while transporting a yacht from Southern California to Washington State. With his daughter’s help, Ron relived the event while telling his experience to her, so she could write and ready his book for the public. His book received a five-star book review a few days after its release. He campaigned and was able to get a few of the heroic US Coast Guardsmen the honor they deserved, as described in the book.
During his days as a ski instructor, he met his wife at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in Southern California. They were married in Las Vegas on Dec. 23, 1962. Daughter, Renee, and son, Jay, have preceded their father in death. Ron is survived by his wife, Valeria (Val) Mieske; also many nieces and nephews who reside all over the US.
Ron was a strong family man; he loved his family deeply, always being their protector, teaching and practicing the teachings of God and trusting the Love of Jesus. He loved his country with a deep passion and was extremely happy to see it being returned to a “Great Country.” He met and worked with many celebrities during his life; however, no particular life experience really changed his character. He was benevolent, a leader, a visionary or pragmatist, intelligent, lived for reality, adventurer and explorer, and yes, ornery. If he shook your hand in friendship, you gained a trusted and honorable friend for life. His drive to live life to the fullest was his character and even at 85, he believed that there was a lot to achieve and discover, but often in the last few years he would say, “If I die tomorrow, don’t be sad. I’ve done more than most people dream about. I have lived the greatest love story ever told, had the best friends a man could have, and I know God has blessed me and He will decide when it’s time.”
Val adds, “If you have met Ron, you may have liked him or not, it doesn’t matter, he is a person you will forever remember!”
Services have been held.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donation be sent to one of his charities as listed below. Checks should be made “In Memory of Ron Valiquette” and payable to one of the following:
Bagdad Shrine Transportation Fund, 314 W. Park, Butte, MT 59701
Shriner’s Hospitals Spokane, Attn: A. Heinzen, 911 W. Fifth Ave. Spokane, WA 99204
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, PO Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101-9929
Messages of condolence may be sent to Val and the family at: www.lakefuneralhomeandcremation com. The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory, Polson, is caring for the Valiquette family.