Cover photo for Frank Austin Fowler's Obituary
1932 Frank 2024

Frank Austin Fowler

May 5, 1932 — May 13, 2024



Frank Fowler was embraced by family and friends as he passed away on May 13, 2024, at Barrett Hospital in Dillon, Montana. He was 92 years old.

Frank was born on May 5,1932 in Washington D.C. to Wallace William Fowler and Helen Peabody Marsh. Frank was the youngest of eight, preceded by Bruce, Ella, Earl, Hazel, Daniel, William, and June. With the loss of his father at the age of six, he spent much of his childhood living at the home of his older brother Earl. His niece Susan and nephew Jim became his childhood playmates, as well as nephew Jack.

Frank had a great love of anything outdoors hiking, fishing, skiing, gathering firewood for the winters, and gardening. After high school, he began a cross-country journey that took him west to the Rocky Mountains and he never looked back. He proudly put himself through Montana State University (now U of M) in Missoula for four years studying forestry (1950-1954). During these years, he met his life-long friend Alicejane Carkeek.

His first summer in Montana was spent at Fort Keogh with the US Forest Service where Frank learned of the Smokejumpers. He had 28 epic jumps during his tenure with the Smokejumpers. He wrote to his mother about his adventures and those letters later served as the foundation for his book High-Mountain Two-Manner.

The Army detoured Frank in 1955 and he spent two years serving in office administration and traveling throughout Europe. Many years later, he wrote another book of his mischievous and trying times with the army, Relative Humility (not a typo).

When he returned, he and Alicejane "Corky" Carkeek were married in Butte, Montana (1957).

Their first adventure as a married couple took them to Sullivan Lake Ranger Station in Washington. Frank had various assignments, and took many trips in the back country, a tradition he carried on for decades. He continued bouncing around Idaho, Montana, and Washington before landing in Dillon, Montana where Frank and Corky settled into raising their family. Somewhere in this time frame, he discovered Huckleberries, and many summers were spent in the pursuit of the tart purple gems that he so cherished, especially the "reds".

In his later years, Frank began tracing his genealogy, spending countless hours traveling and documenting monumental information on his family tree and compiling the dates, names, and stories to pass around the rest of the family. Frank took great pride in the family lineage, dating all the way back to the Mayflower and becoming a founding member of the William White Society.

Frank had a great appreciation for music and his dedication to the Dillon Concert Association will be remembered by everyone as they listen to the Baby Grand Piano. He enjoyed singing with his quartet and practiced endlessly, finding great pleasure in the camaraderie of music.

Frank and his family spent many years volunteering at the Historic Lochsa Ranger station, spending many hours telling stories of the past to travelers and family. Frank also enjoyed making cribbage boards from elk horns, teaching and playing the game to any and all who would listen.

Frank spent the last few years of his life writing stories for the Smokejumper's Magazine, completing as many puzzles as he could get his hands on, sitting with his feet up listening to music, and enjoying the pleasures found in an ice cream sandwich.

He had a humorous outlook on the absurdities of life, and he had a way of making us see that things cannot be taken so seriously. Frank lived ardently by the outlook that we may not know everything there is to know in life, but the pursuit of knowledge is one of the greatest ways to pass time and conversation.

Frank's passing has left a hole in the hearts of many. His stories and passions will continue to live on through his family and friends. With his final jump, he leaves behind Son Chris (Rachael), Daughter Jody (Ed), Grandchildren Ethan (Rachael), Kira, Jacob, and Sean, as well as Great-grandsons Logan and Lucas.

A sincere thank you to some very special friends Ron, Bill, and Alan.

A Celebration of Frank's Life will be held at the Grace United Methodist Church on May 31, 2024, at 11:00 am. Please come ready to share some great stories.

There will be a reception at Western Montana College Library conference room to follow, with snacks and drinks.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frank Austin Fowler, please visit our flower store.


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