October 11, 1929– November 17, 2018
Leo Martin Faber was born Oct. 11, 1929 in Havre, Montana to Theodore and Mary (Kane) Faber and raised on the Black Ranch southeast of Big Sandy. After Mary died of breast cancer at 37, Ted continued raising Leo and his siblings at the ranch. He worked long hours to pay off the mortgage in addition to cooking meals, baking bread, and doing laundry—all of which he did the hard way, without electricity, indoor plumbing or a telephone.
Starting at 8 years old, Leo spent summers at his grandmother Faber’s place on Box Elder Creek, where he played with his cousins and developed a love of trout fishing passed on by his special Uncle Joe. Down the road at Faber School, Leo attended Catechism classes, a religious education he would later carry on with his own children.
As a boy, Leo and his brother Lawrence often rode horses to class at Dog Creek School. He attended Big Sandy High and stayed in the dormitory. Leo graduated in 1947, the same year he met his future wife, Beverly Bull, at a country dance in Warrick. They started dating in 1948 and married on Sept. 9, 1950. After a short trip to Glacier National Park, they settled into their life together and started a family.
Their first son, Gene, was born in 1951. In 1953, the young family moved off the ranch while Leo worked for various Chevrolet dealerships in Big Sandy, Havre and Great Falls. Three more sons were born and another was on the way when Gene died of Leukemia in 1956.
In 1960, the growing family moved back to the ranch, where Leo worked hard putting up hay, feeding cattle, calving, fencing and building a new barn. Leo instilled in his children an appreciation for self-sufficiency and hard work. He was handy with a tool, raised and butchered beef, filled the woodshed with elk meat, caught many a trout, and tended to a large garden. Community members appreciated his down-to-earth practicality and sense of humor.
By 1966, Leo and Beverly had nine children—plenty to keep them busy, and a big help on the ranch. Leo loved to take all of the kids fishing, a tradition he carried on later with his grandchildren. He also enjoyed the occasional fishing trip alone to catch brook trout for supper.
Two years after his dad, brother and Leatrice moved to a newly purchased ranch near Cleveland, Montana, Leo and Beverly moved out and joined them. They purchased the ranch from the family partnership and put down roots.
Leo belonged to the Big Sandy Fire Department for years and was often the first responder on scene with his State Land fire engine and the last one to leave. For many years, the fire department crew came to the Faber ranch to cut down a large Christmas tree for the community of Big Sandy. “Leo Trees” from the ranch were also provided for all of the schoolrooms and Big Sandy’s Catholic church.
Leo and Bev started an outfitting business in 1988. Leo joined MOGA and served as the Region 4 director in the mid-90s. Hunters came from all over the U.S. for the opportunity to be guided by Leo, and many of them became lifelong friends. Later in life, Leo and Bev were able to travel themselves and took trips all around the U.S. and in Europe.
The Faber outfitting tradition continues with Leo’s son Chris, who hosts guests at Montana Outfitting Company on the same ranch first purchased by his grandfather.
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