Les C. Hart, 78, passed away at home on June 22, 2022, in Kalispell. Nancy, his wife of 42 years, was by his side.
Les was born in Fargo, North Dakota, on May 19, 1944. Growing up in Fargo, Les enjoyed hunting, fishing, and playing football and hockey. His family had a lake cabin where many summers were spent on the water.
He graduated from North Dakota State University in 1967, and he enlisted in the Air Force the following year. Les attended pilot school and other courses to become proficient flying T-37s, KC-135s, and HH-53 helicopters. He was extremely proud to serve his country in the elite air rescue group known as the Jolly Green Giants while in Vietnam. Captain Les Hart earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and four Air Medals, and is credited with saving 21 lives. He left the Air Force in 1972 while stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, continuing his service as a helicopter instructor pilot. Les then went on to have a successful career in food manufacturing, working diligently for companies such as Pillsbury and Van den Bergh Foods. He finally retired in 2008 from Bigelow Tea Company, where he was the director of manufacturing. Through the years, his employees had great respect for him and his ability to lead as well as mentor.
Survivors include his wife Nancy, their children Mason (Kathy) Hart of Texas, Ryan (Londa) Hart of Montana, and Alison (Steve) Brodet of Massachusetts. Les was blessed with seven grandchildren: Dylan and Ava Hart; Greydon, Lauryn and Madelyn Hart; Jack and Ayla Brodet. Other survivors include his older brother, Gary (Karen) Hart of Minnesota, and niece and nephews Michele Pundsack, Walter Clarke, John Palmquist, and Michael Hart.
Les loved and was loved, by his many friends and family. His goodwill and laughter will be missed by many. Those who knew him best can attest to both.
No services are planned at this time.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Montana Wildlife Federation at montanawildlife.org.
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A Memorial Tree was planted for Leslie