Edward Duane Stefanatz of Kalispell, 80, passed away on February 2nd, 2024, at Logan Health Center, after a tough battle with cancer. He was born to Rudy and Agnes (Cassidy) Stefanatz in Columbus, Montana on March 2nd,1943, the first of 3 children, Ed, Nancy and John.
Ed’s early life was spent in Butte, Montana, where his father started out as a lineman. Ed’s love for fishing began on the banks of the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers. Every weekend, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins would travel down to Dillon to fish, camp and picnic. His lifetime passion sparked from there.
Next, his father took the family across the State of Montana bringing the first electricity, which provided an opportunity for young Ed to explore pristine fishing waters across the state. Eventually, the family settled in the Flathead. The family would make the long trek back to see the rest of the family, on long weekends, in Butte and Dillon. The trip always centered around fishing.
Ed attended Somers and Russell Grade School, Central School, and graduated in 1961, from Flathead High School. He was on the1959 Flathead High School State Championship Football Team. He then got in a little trouble, and eventually found his way into his father’s footsteps in the electrical trade. He started his Journeyman Electrician program in 1964, ultimately becoming a Master Electrician in 1968.
Ed married Hazel Burnside in 1967, although they separated in 1983, their love created three beautiful children, Shelly Diane, Carrie Sue, and Eddie Shawn. He passed his love of fishing, hunting and all things outdoors to his son, “Big Ed, and Little Ed.” The two of them were inseparable, except for times when they were a little too much alike, and they weren’t speaking. They both spent their best years hunting, fishing, and working together.
Ed was a Master Electrician for 42 years, and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 36 of those years. His career took him across Montana and throughout the United States. He helped electrify Malmstrom Air Force Base, Libby Dam, Hungry Horse Dam, Alaska Pipeline, Anaconda Aluminum Plant, Colstrip, and Smurfit Stone, to name just a few of the big ones, before he settled back in Kalispell to open his own business, Ed’s Electric, “We Will Fix your Shorts”. Hunting and fishing, while maintaining a successful business, gave him the most joy. His most noteworthy client, owner of the San Francisco 49’ers and local resident at the Candy Bar Ranch. He completed the electrical to the ranch, and got 50 yard line tickets to back to back Super Bowls in New Orleans in the process. A highlight in his life.
Ed retired in 2010, although he continued to help anyone in need until he was too sick to do so. He lost his son and best fishing partner in 2016, a family tragedy that brought great sadness to his life. He continued on with the loving support of his brother, daughters, grandchildren, and extended family at the Rainbow Bar.
Ed was a character with a unique sense of humor. He could be stoic, ornery, very stubborn, strong-willed, and had endured great tragedy in his life. He was also loving and a friend to many. He didn’t live a perfect life, but he had a huge heart. He thought the world was always made better by going fishing.
Upon his cancer diagnosis, Ed only wanted to spend as much time as he could out fishing with friends and family. Special thanks to friends and family who took him out for those, ‘one more day’ fishing trips. The memories of your love and care will last a lifetime.
Ed is preceded in death by his favorite fishing partner and son, Little Ed, and his parents, Rudy and Agnes, all of Kalispell. He is survived by his brother, John Stefanatz of Kalispell, and Nancy and Vince Jarvis of Windfield, British Columbia, nieces and their families. He has two daughters, Shelly (Eric) Smith and Carrie (Ted) Burnham, and 5 grandchildren, Cassidy, Kaycee (Sam), Claire, Katie and Cameron. Numerous extended family members, and life long friends. The family is comforted that Little Eddie is taking Big Ed to all his best fishing spots now.
Special thanks for the loving care taken by Jackie Gillin and Joe Heil, Desiree and Ron Dickman, and Malitza with Logan Health Hospice.
A Celebration of Life will be held on March 2, at the Rainbow Bar, 2pm.To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Edward Duane Stefanatz, please visit our flower store.