Arthur J. Hoiland

August 13, 1933 ~ October 2, 2020 (age 87)

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Arthur J. Hoiland (Duke), age 87, longtime resident of the North Fork passed away peacefully on Friday October 2, 2020.


Born in the 4th of July canyon in northern Idaho on August 13, 1933.  Fourth son of nine children born to Thomas & Ethel Hoiland of Cataldo, Idaho. As a young man, he worked with his father and brothers in the family sawmill and developed amazing woodworking skills. The family kept several Scandinavian traditions as his father was an immigrant from Stavanger Norway.


Duke met the love of his life, Naomi Gaffaney, at Montana State University in 1954. They married at Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish Montana after their graduation.  He was drafted into the Army in 1956 and was stationed in Bad Kissinger Germany.  He served in the Army as a combat engineer, 10th infantry division, was discharged in 1958, and moved back to teach and coach in Rathdrum Idaho.  Eventually, both he and Naomi got teaching jobs in the Spokane Valley where they built a wonderful life with their three children; Juli, John, and Tom and treasured friends and neighbors. The family enjoyed the outdoors: fishing, hunting, camping, and spent summers in the logging camps where Duke worked with his brothers.  They attended and served at Our Saviors Lutheran church and later, closer to their home, Spokane Valley Methodist.


Duke worked for 30 years as an American and World History teacher, Material Arts, and coached basketball and track in the Freeman School district.  He retired in 1988 to enjoy his first two grandchildren and begin work on building a log cabin at the family property in Montana.  Duke and Naomi became Montana residents in 1993 living full-time on the property in the North Fork on Trial Creek.  In addition to the log cabin, his craftsmanship and hard work propelled him into building a shop, carriage house, fuel shed, and a larger toy/woodshed, which collectively became known as the “Hoiland Compound”. All the buildings were made with lodge pole pine from the property, lumber from Duke’s sawmill, and old hand tools.  He loved making lumber in his “Mickey Mouse” sawmill for all the buildings, and sawing lumber for friends & neighbors.


Duke and Naomi were very involved in the North Fork community.  He served on the NFLA, N. Valley Search & Rescue, NF patrol, Fire crew, Community Hall projects, and hosted many social events.  He also kept his teaching spirit and loved sharing his knowledge with friends, neighbors, and students on the Kootenai Indian trail. 


The family was recognized as the Montana Tree Farmer of the Year in 2014; the Western Regional Tree Farmer of the Year in 2015, and was one of four finalists nationally for the American Tree Farm System’s Outstanding  Tree Farmer of the Year for 2015.  They loved being Forest Stewards and active members in the Montana Tree Farm System.  Duke left a beautiful legacy in his well-managed forest for his family and friends. He cherished the life he made on Wicogaho Ranch and it became the family motto “Where you can’t tell the difference between work and play”.


The family would like to thank the wonderful doctors and nurses that cared for Duke including caregivers at Timber Creek Village. They provided compassionate care, love and support for both Duke and Naomi and their family. A celebration of his life will be held next summer in July at their property in the North Fork.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the North Fork Patrol, 11530 North Fork Road, Polebridge, MT  59928 or to the North Valley Rescue Association, PO Box 2041, Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Friends are encouraged to visit our website at to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.








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