Gary Arlan Refsland

Gary Arlan Refsland, age 73, passed away at his home in St. George, Utah on Jan. 14. 

Gary was born to William and Agnes Refsland in Big Timber on May 5, 1944 and attended the local grade school and high school.  In high school, he and several friends formed a band, The Rodans.  Gary played the drums and they performed at local dances.  When he was 18, he joined the Navy and served four years in San Diego.  

After returning to Montana, he entered Montana State University in Bozeman earning both his BA and Master’s degrees in Sociology.  Soon after, he went to California to earn his mortician’s license and then returned to Bozeman and was associated with Dokken Nelson Funeral Home.  For twenty years, he taught sociology and gerontology at MSU.  He also maintained his mortician’s license and annually inspected every mortuary and crematorium in the state of Montana.  After retiring from MSU, he was Director of Gerontology for the state of Montana.  He wrote proposals and received grants to assess and improve social services for the elderly, and minorities, throughout the state of Montana.  He also was instrumental in developing Montana’s hospice program.  As a member of DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operation Response Teams), he spent 42 days in New York after 9/11, identifying victims of the World Trade Center attack.

Gary had a unique personality and entertained his family and friends with stories and his goofy sense of humor.  He made friends easily at local diners and stores that he frequented.  He loved his family, especially his grand nieces and nephews and generously showered them with gifts. 

Gary is survived by his sisters Ruth O’Sullivan and Diana Refsland, seven nieces and nephews, and many grand nieces and nephews.  

He was preceded in death by his partner Marjorie Shaw, his parents and his brother David.

If you would like to make a donation in Gary’s honor, please donate to Intermountain Foundation Home Care and Hospice, 11520 S. Redwood Rd, South Jordan, Utah 84095 or Hearts and Hands Hospice, PO Box 1337, Big Timber, Montana 59011. Services for Gary will be held in the spring.



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