Elaine Willey Hjort Seidensticker

1922 – 2014
Elaine Willey Hjort Seidensticker


Elaine Willey Hjort Seidensticker passed away on February 13, at West Hills Village Health Care, in Rapid City, SD, surrounded by members of her loving family.

Elaine Elizabeth Willey was born Sept. 16, 1922, in Hamilton, the second daughter of Elizabeth and A.C. Willey.

Elaine grew up on the family ranch in the Big Hole Valley with siblings Corrine, June and Chuck. She was the only child in her class in the rural Gibbons School for the first eight years of her education. She and sister June rode their faithful horse, Midgy, the three miles from the ranch to school and back again, every season of the year. The family ranch’s remote location necessitated boarding in town for high school, where the Boetticher and John Jackson families hosted Elaine. After graduating with the Class of 1940, Elaine went on to attend Butte Business College.

A blind date arranged by a mutual friend led to Elaine meeting Wesley “Bud” Hjort, whom she wed on June 26, 1941, in Deer Lodge. The newlyweds moved to Bud’s hometown of Medicine Lake and purchased a small farm. Over time, with planning, hard work and careful saving, they expanded their agricultural operations and eventually focused on raising durum wheat and Hereford cattle. Of greater importance to them, they also raised a family: sons Barry and Tim; and daughter Susan. Elaine and Bud were active in their church and their community. Elaine was a 4-H, Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader.

Bud’s failing health led to a move to Billings in 1973. He passed in 1974. Elaine then moved back to her roots in Dillon to be closer to her mother, sisters and daughter.

In 1986, Elaine married Dr. John Seidensticker, with whom she shared nearly 25 years of her life and many mutual interests, including a longtime connection to Beaverhead County and the ranch life, Montana history, local flora and fauna, bridge, travel and family. She gladly became the stepmom and grandmother to John’s children: Jack, Jim, Judy, Jerry, Jeanne and Jeff, and their families. Their home became well-known as the Seidensticker’s “Bed and Breakfast,” where the door was always open, with a great home-cooked meal and conversation always available.

In 2008, Elaine and John relocated from Dillon to West Hills Village in Rapid City, SD, to be closer to Elaine’s family members. John passed in April 2010.

Elaine was a friend to all she met. Ever gracious, ever charitable, ever kind—she was the mother ship to every member of her two families and their extended families. She encouraged, supported, loved and cared for each one. If she crossed your path, you remembered her. She was that “classy lady” so often described to her loved ones by people who barely knew her, as well as by those who knew her all her life.

Elaine was predeceased by: her parents; her husbands, W.J. Hjort and John Seidensticker; sister Corinne Bailey; son Tim; daughter-in-law Carol Jane; stepdaughter Judy Strong; and her special niece, Jane Bailey.

She is survived by: sister June Herman (Arlo); brother Charles Willey (Alexis); son Barry Hjort (Sandi); daughter Susan McKeown (Paddy); grandchildren Kirt Hjort (Renata), Shannon Paikos (Michael), Luke Hjort, Megan Kajin, Matthew Kajin and Michael Kajin; great-grandchildren Kyle Elder, Olivia and Nick Paikos; her Seidensticker children, Jack (Susan), Jim (Ann Fran), Jerry (Carol), Jeanne Pusey (Greg), Jeff (Patty) and Judy’s husband, Keith Strong; and by her beloved Seidensticker grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Local memorial services were held yesterday at Dillon Grace United Methodist Church. Another service will be held Friday at 3 p.m. at Medicine Lake’s Union Congregational Church, with internment to follow at the Medicine Lake Cemetery.

Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home, of Rapid City, SD, is in charge of arrangements and an online guestbook may be signed at www.osheimschmidt.com.