Cover photo for Lyla Crabtree's Obituary
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1994 Lyla 2021

Lyla Crabtree

September 19, 1994 — November 14, 2021

Lyla Mae (Schmautz) Crabtree, 79, of Fairfield, Montana, passed away peacefully of natural causes (not COVID) on Sunday, November 14, 2021 at Benefis Health Systems in Great Falls.

Lyla was born in September 1942 in Missoula, Montana to Herbert & Lestina "Tiny" (Bowman) Schmautz. Soon after they moved to Havre Montana, where she grew up and then graduated from Havre High School. She attended Northern Montana College where she met Frank Crabtree of Fairfield, Montana. They married and moved west of Fairfield where they farmed and ranched and raised their 4 children. They later divorced.

Lyla relocated back to Havre, where she attended Nursing school at Northern and then moved to Great Falls where she lived and worked at Blue Cross/Blue Shield for several years. Lyla then moved to Denver, Colorado where she became a Real Estate agent, but in 1994 she decided to return back to Montana to be near her grandchildren. In addition to selling real estate, she worked at various management and bookkeeping positions, in Great Falls, Shelby and Chester until retiring in 2013. She returned to Fairfield where she lived until her death. Lyla worked and volunteered her time at Grace Lutheran Church, where she attended and continued her faith in God. She spent her last 4 years at the Front Range Assisted Living, where she enjoyed time with friends. Lyla loved her time with her family, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her favorite pastime was spoiling her two companions, Kingsley and Chester and playing cards and visiting with her friends at the assisted living.

She is survived by her 4 children, Shelley (Nate) Batson of Fairfield, Shari (Patrick) Dolan of Great Falls, Chuck (Karrie) Crabtree of Choteau, and Joeleen (Jody) Durocher of Choteau. She leaves behind 17 grandchildren (plus 4 spouses), and 6 great grandchildren with one more coming in April, and 2 nephews and one niece.

Preceding her in death were her parents, Herbert and Tiny, her sister and brother- in-law, Patty and Nick Cetto, and her brother Allen Schmautz.

The family would like to extend their special gratitude to the staff at Front Range Assisted Living and Frontier Family Practice for their kindness and care over the past few years. A special thank you to all of mom's friends and our own family and friends for all of their support and love.

Cremation has taken place under the direction of Gorder Jensen Funeral Home in Choteau MT. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers and because of mom's love for animals and especially her two long time companions, Kingsley and Chester, who both proceeded her in death, donations can be made in her honor to Bright Eyes Pet and Rehab, PO Box 1498 Choteau, MT 59422.

Condolences may be left on-line at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lyla Crabtree, please visit our flower store.


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