Douglas Lee Schweigert
(June 13, 1949 - Oct. 23, 2021)
Douglas Lee Schweigert was born on June 13, 1949, and from then on, 13 was his favorite number.
He died at 3:13 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, with his beloved wife Karen by his side and a beautiful view of Heart Mountain out the window. He was 72 years old.
Doug was born in McLaughlin, South Dakota, the firstborn child of Ted and Bernice “Bee” Schweigert. He was followed by two sisters, Nancy and Lana.
Doug grew up around automobiles as he helped his dad and grandpa with the family business, Schweigert Chevrolet, sparking a lifelong fascination with cars. He was also fascinated with flight, and became a licensed pilot.
Whether by car, motorcycle, horse or plane, Doug was always on the move. He was an excellent driver and loved to go fast. He got plenty of speeding tickets over the years, including two in one day. Fortunately, they came at a time when Montana didn’t have a speed limit and issued “nickel tickets,” as Doug called them — only $5 each.
Doug graduated from McLaughlin High School in 1967. A war being fought across the ocean would change Doug’s life. As young American men were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, Doug decided he didn’t want to wait for his number to be called, and he enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces on March 13, 1970.
Doug completed boot camp in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and then served in Vietnam. He had a true sense of patriotism — a trait that deepened during his time in the service and continued all his life.
After being honorably discharged in May 1971, Doug returned home to Minot, North Dakota, and continued his work at the family business.
While on a trip to Fargo in 1974, Doug met a lovely brown-eyed girl named Karen Kaye Japel, and he was smitten. Doug proposed on April 13, 1975, and the couple got married four months later.
They raised four children: Melissa, Tyson, Molly and Tessa. Doug loved being a dad, and his kids were his pride and joy. He supported their interests, encouraging them to be whatever they wanted to be, wherever it took them.
Doug was an auctioneer, and when he wasn’t selling vehicles or farm equipment, he auctioned off pies at his children’s school fundraisers.
He made sure each of the kids had a good car to drive when they turned 16, and he never tired of helping them with their vehicles — or getting a new one, as he loved finding a good deal.
His upbringing in the family automobile business made Doug a natural salesman, and he really could sell anything. His sales career took him across the Dakotas, then into Montana, where he ran his own car dealership.
In October 1987, life took an unexpected turn when the Schweigert family suffered a house fire in Billings, Montana. Doug made the best of a tough situation, and decided to move his young family to Powell — the little town in the shadow of Heart Mountain, which he visited as a young man and always loved.
After years of moving around, Doug and Karen found their home in Powell. On their first Sunday in town, they took the family to First Baptist Church (now Grace Point), where they found their church family. Doug stepped in to serve wherever needed — helping with AWANA, singing with the worship team, leading as a deacon and serving donuts on Sunday mornings.
Doug had a strong faith in Jesus, and he often shared the Gospel with those he met. His faith was unwavering in times of trouble, and even in the hardest circumstances, Doug trusted the Lord’s plan and would say, “God is good all the time.”
He maintained a positive outlook through many challenges, often with a friendly smile. Doug loved to whistle, and you could usually hear him whistling as he walked before you could see him.
He worked in various jobs over the years, usually with a sales focus. In the early 1990s, Doug became the first cellphone representative in the Big Horn Basin, selling many people their first cellphones.
He also sold farm equipment and later drove beet trucks during harvestime.
Doug also worked at the Powell Municipal Airport, and enjoyed talking with pilots and sharing memories from his own flying days.
For several summers, he worked at fire camps, helping set up equipment and operate camps for firefighters.
Doug loved talking and joking around with people, easily striking up conversations and making friends wherever he went.
He had a heart for underdogs, and truly was a friend to the friendless.
A gifted storyteller, Doug loved to recount tales from his many adventures — growing up on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, traversing through the jungles of Vietnam, hunting elk in Wyoming, and the list goes on. His lifelong best friends, Dan and Mike, were featured in many of his favorite stories.
Doug also loved to read and collect books from favorite authors. He had a way with words, and he wrote poetry that his family treasures. Doug shared his love of reading and writing with his four children.
In his later years, he could often be found whistling with a crossword puzzle in hand, a cup of tea nearby and a faithful dog at his side. Doug loved animals, and he always made sure the Schweigert household included a good dog.
After suffering a series of strokes in 2005, Doug continued to make the most of life — serving in the church, traveling with Karen, attending community events and spending time with his beloved family. He celebrated the weddings of all four of his children, and he loved their spouses.
He was delighted to welcome grandchildren into the family, and he lit up when he saw them.
Doug truly loved life, and his family is honored to celebrate the life he lived so well.
He was preceded in death by his parents; father-in-law and mother-in-law Frank and Leona Japel; brother-in-law Marvin Japel; and sisters-in-law JoAnn Schulte and Elaine Schultz.
Doug is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Karen; daughter Melissa (Josh) Ardaiz of Talent, Oregon; son Tyson (Erin) Schweigert of Boise, Idaho; daughter Molly (Samuel) Davis of Bozeman, Montana; and daughter Tessa (CJ) Baker of Powell; as well as grandchildren Caleb, Maddy and Noah Ardaiz; Julian and Margot Schweigert; Cora, Boone and Clark Davis; and Will Baker, with another Baker baby on the way.
Doug is also survived by his uncle Chuck (Sheila) Brown; aunt Laurel Jean Kaftal; sisters Nancy Shanta (Allen Bittner) and Lana (Art) Anderson; sisters-in-law Arlene (Don) Altringer, Marlys (John) Roney and Mary Japel; brother-in-law Loren (Sue) Japel; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends who were like family.
Doug’s family appreciates the compassionate care from Dr. Mike Bohlman and the Powell Valley Care Center staff, as well as the support from the Grace Point congregation and Powell community.
Burial with military honors took place at Crown Hill Cemetery, and a celebration of life service is planned for Friday, May 13, 2022, with more details to follow.
Thompson Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.