Monday, October 2, 2017, Lewis Hafley, 91, of Ronan, sailed swiftly, stoically, from earth’s shores into the mystical blue skies and deep blue waters beyond our mortal realm.
You could say Lewis left with a bang equal to his lively step, quick wit, and constant eagerness to learn and share the gleanings of his lifelong passions for knowledge.
Lewis was born November 7, 1925 to Clarence and Mary Lee Mills Hafley in McLean, IL. He was raised and attended schools in McLean and Funks Grove, IL, where he excelled in sports, especially swimming. The day after Lewis’ 17th birthday he enlisted in the US Navy where he served aboard LST 463, earning 9 Battle Stars in the Pacific Coral Sea during WWII.
Honorably discharged after 9 years of naval duty, Lewis swung into civilian life. He obtained his GED, attending college in Illinois and Oregon, earning BA and Master’s Degrees in psychology and diesel mechanics. Around September 1943, Lewis married Hazel Cambron. They stayed together 32 years raising four children.
Lewis taught high school history and mechanics classes. One exciting woodworking class, Lewis led his students crafting their own snow skis from scratch. Of course the culmination was a great skiing expedition. Happily, all skis proved worthy. While teaching, the sign by his name also read: counselor.
After retirement from teaching and a divorce, Lewis married Bonnie Joy Tanner. He returned to the sea as Chief Engineer on at least three ships. One navigated the frigid blue waters, mapping in the northern Pacific Ocean. Another carried cargo in the Bahamas and a third dredged the sea floor of the Panama Canal.
Around the millennium, Lewis and Bonnie pulled up stakes in Illinois and moved to Ronan, MT. They enjoyed the Mission Mountains, Flathead Lake and the people and lifestyle they had found while visiting here.
You may remember Lewis, a stately gentleman, wearing a fedora, proudly walking his buddy, a miniature schnauzer, Britt. He may have stopped you with a surprising comment and lively banter, which brought him much joy.
Lewis was preceded in death by most of his family, his son Gary, and wife, Bonnie.
He is survived by his daughters, Constance and Karen, a son, Fred, a sister, Linda Williams, his faithful friend, Britt, his friends at Mission Meadows, and 411 1st St. Ronan, Walmart, and many other persons throughout the valley and beyond, also Dorrine and the Bingham family.
Per Lewis’s final wishes, cremation has taken place and his ashes will be buried next to his wife, Bonnie, at Lakeview Cemetery, Polson.