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Friday, February 17, 2023
6:00 - 7:30pm (Mountain time)
Saturday, February 18, 2023
2:00 - 3:00pm (Mountain time)
Gary Laverne Baxter, known to some as “Flash,” to some as “Bub,” and to others as
“Papa,” never could sit still. Now, he no longer has to. After nearly 80 years of faithful
service to his family, his businesses, his community, and his church, on February 5,
2023 Gary died peacefully at home and went to join his beloved Pat in heaven.
Gary was born and raised in Powell, and though he lived briefly in other places, it was
always his home. Gary was born on April 12, 1943, to Vern and Gwen (Jacobs) Baxter.
He graduated from Powell High School in 1961, where he made the most of his 5’ 7”
frame, playing football and basketball, and running track.
Shortly after graduating high school, Gary married Bertha (“Bert”) Wright, also of Powell.
Although they eventually divorced, the couple had three sons, Mitch, Shan, and Chad.
Gary later went to work running the motor pool at the United States Air Force Academy
in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, through a friend, he was introduced to a young
woman named Pat Rushmer. The two fell in love, married on September 3, 1967, and
remained the centers of one another’s lives until Pat’s passing in 2021.
While working at the Air Force Academy, Gary was briefly assigned (as a civilian
employee) to Vietnam. He was in Vietnam for exactly 99 days, during which time he
narrowly escaped death at least twice. From Vietnam, Gary wrote to Pat and proposed
that they leave Colorado and move back to his home town of Powell to raise their young
children. Before returning to Powell, however, Gary had the opportunity to work at
Hickam Air Force Base, which allowed the family to live near Pat’s sister and her family.
Gary enjoyed Oahu, but hated the traffic. It slowed him down. In 1974, after a brief time
in Hawaii, the young family returned to Powell, where Gary and Pat lived for the
remainder of their lives.
Upon returning to Powell, Gary went to work for his father at B&L Auto Parts, which he
later bought and continued to operate, through multiple iterations, until he eventually
decided to sell the business and pursue a new career as a real estate agent. As much
as he liked cars and the auto parts business, Gary loved selling real estate. He loved
everything about it (well, except for floor duty), but he especially enjoyed talking to and
dealing with people.
Gary was always active. At various times, he was an avid fisherman, enjoyed bird
hunting, and for years was an active member of Ducks Unlimited. He played City
League basketball, participated several times in the demolition derby at the Park County
Fair, and enjoyed a lifelong love of golf, through which he formed many close
friendships, including with men decades his junior.
More important than either his business or leisure activities, Gary was a devoted
husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He cared for his beloved wife Pat
for many years, truly in sickness and in health, and loved doing it. As a father, Gary led
by example, instilling solid values and a strong work ethic in his children. Gary
genuinely loved spending time with the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, goofing
around and generally being mischievous. He particularly enjoyed attending whatever
activities and events any of them were involved in, especially sports.
In his later years, Gary became good friends with Pastor Mike Walsh of Glad Tidings
Church in Powell. Gary also enjoyed the weekly Tuesday morning men’s breakfast at
Gary is survived by his sister Linda George of Fort Collins, CO, six children – Debbi
Hoeft (Dave) of Big Horn, Wyoming, Mitch Baxter (Debbie) of Mission Viejo, CA, Chad
Baxter of Billings, Montana, Todd Baxter (Seanna) of Phoenix, Arizona, Dayna
Thompson (Jim) of Billings, Montana, and Josh Baxter (Meredith) of Powell, 18
grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, his son Shannon, and his beloved wife of
nearly 54 years, Pat.
Services will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at Glad Tidings
Church in Powell. A public viewing will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday
February 17, 2023 at Thompson Funeral Home.