M. Dean Jellison
M. Dean Jellison passed away on December 6, 2020 at the Lodge at Buffalo Hill Terrace. Dean was born in Kalispell on Dec. 26, 1928, as the second of four sons born to Charles J. and Ramona Roe Jellison. He attended the one room LaSalle rural grade school located on part of what is now Glacier Park International Airport. Attending Flathead County High School during World War II meant working on the family dairy farm when not in class. At age 14, he was a licensed driver serving a retail dairy route during the summer months.
In high school he was a member of the debate team that won the state championship in 1946 and continued that activity at the U of M where his team won the state four years in a row and won the Northwest Regional three years in a row.
Summers and vacations during the college years were spent working at his father’s logging operation where he became proficient in the operation of heavy machinery and trucks and had the opportunity of being the first person in Montana to try out the new one man chain saw. (It needed improvement to be practical.)
Highlights of the University years included being invited to the National Invitational Debate Tournament twice and defeating major universities such as Yale, Army, U of Chicago, and finally losing to a little tiny school in Alabama. The big event, even overshadowing graduation from Law School was meeting Joan Hardin. They were married in 1952 following her graduation from the University and became parents to three daughters.
Having been an ROTC cadet during the Korean War, Dean was summoned to active duty when he graduated from Law School in 1953 and spent the next two years lawyering for the Air Force. During most of that time he was the Air Force representative negotiating a potentially multi-billion dollar contract with the seven major airlines which called for their participation in supporting the military in the event of a national emergency.
Completing his military service, he and Joan returned to Montana and he entered private law practice. He was elected in 1956 to be the Flathead County Attorney which was then a part time job and he held it for six years.
With experience on both the prosecution and defense sides of the fence, he was appointed in 1964 to the Montana Criminal Law Commission by the Montana Supreme Court. Over a ten-year period, that commission completely revised the 1895 Criminal Code to make it fit the modern world. He and other members of the commission received a formal commendation and thank you from the Supreme Court for a job well done.
In 1969 he became the Chairman of the Advisory Board to Kalispell General Hospital operated by the Sisters of Mercy of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At the request of the Sisters, he formed a local non-profit corporation to purchase the hospital and with the assistance of a Board of Trustees from the community, this purchase was accomplished.
During the next fifteen years, he was deeply involved in the hospital industry serving as Board Chairman for the Kalispell Hospital, the new Kalispell Regional Hospital, Chairman of the Board of Blue Cross of Montana, Montana representative to, and Chairman of, the American Hospital Association’s National Council of Hospital Governing Boards, and a member of the AHA’s General Council.
Dean retired from active law practice in 1993. In retirement, he has been active in Republican politics, as an editorial commentator for the University’s NPR radio station KUFM. Dean loved being outdoors and in addition to hunting, sailing, and fishing he was most of all an avid skier, and a dedicated member the Over the Hill Gang hiking group in Glacier Park. Dean enjoyed both international and domestic travel visiting several foreign countries and most of the US States.
He served as treasurer for the local Republican party for 12 years and was particularly proud of the fact that the party made a clean sweep of the elections in Flathead County for five successive elections. He was the first president of the Flathead County Pachyderm Club. For many years, he assisted his wife, Joan, in compiling and maintaining a list of Republican supporters which was a key tool for the candidates.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Ramona Jellison, brother John and youngest daughter Paula. He is survived by his wife Joan of Kalispell, daughters Pam (Clark) Cummings of Loveland, CO and Beth Smith of Lakeside. He leaves 3 grandchildren, Matthew (Lysa) Smith, Chaille (Shawn) Hymes, J.D. (Rachel) Cummings, 7 great-grandchildren, brothers Bruce (Betty) Jellison, Gene (Carol) Jellison and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Dean will be laid to rest with a private family burial and will be honored with a celebration of life when the pandemic permits. Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home and Crematory are caring for the family.
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