John Earl Maki

1939 – 2014
John Earl Maki


John (Jack) Earl Maki passed away Friday, April 25, from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, surrounded by his family at home.

He was born April 4, 1939, in Hamilton, the first son of Earl and Helen Maki. From an early age, he developed a strong work ethic and loved working with the animals on the family farm.  He attended schools in Corvallis and graduated in 1957. He then attended Montana State College and earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. After attaining a master’s degree in Animal Physiology Reproduction, he began working for the Montana Cooperative Extension Service in Lake County in 1965.

Driven by his love of science, animals and all things agriculture, he became the extension agent for Beaverhead County in 1967.A few weeks after moving to Dillon, he met Regina Rieber and eight months later they were married on September 23 of that same year. He built a home just outside of Dillon where he and Regina raised five children.

He continued his strong work ethic throughout his entire life. He served the citizens of Beaverhead County as extension agent for 37 years. Many people remember him as a man with the answer for just about anything. From heifers to house plants, weeds to bats, if someone had a question, John could find the answer.

He was instrumental at improving the cattle herds of southwestern Montana when, in the early 1970s, he began teaching ranchers the science and fundamentals of improving reproduction and performance through heifer selection. He was recognized both locally and nationally for his work as an extension agent, receiving numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of County Agriculture Agents and Montana State University Extension Service Agricultural Agent of the Year .Of his many professional accomplishments, he was most proud of his work with the 4-H program of Beaverhead County. He worked with two generations of 4-H students and, as he often lamented, was one year short of working with three generations. He spearheaded construction of the 4-H building and oversaw 37 Beaverhead County Fairs. In 2007, he was inducted into the Montana 4-H Hall of Fame.

His family was his greatest source of pride and pleasure. He taught his children the values of hard work, community stewardship and fun, supporting their 4-H projects and many extracurricular endeavors. He and Regina spent 15 years traveling all over the state to watch their four sons wrestle in high school. The tradition continued when they traveled to Kansas last year to watch their oldest grandson win the state wrestling title. He adored his grandchildren and had a wonderful knack for making each of his grandkids feel special in his or her own unique way.

He retired in 2003, but never stopped working. He took his hobby of woodworking into a second career, building cabinets for many households in southwestern Montana. He loved the outdoors and landscape of Beaverhead County and enjoyed spraying weeds with son Todd for many years, including the last summer of his life. Many remember John for his hard work and service, but everyone remembers him for his gentle nature and kindness.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Helen, and brother Ralph. He is survived by: his wife, Regina Maki; children Craig (Janel) Maki of Twin Falls, ID, Marilyn (Chuck) Buus, of Ennis, Jeffrey (Janey) Maki, of Wichita, KS, Brett (Anna Loge) Maki, of Dillon, and Todd (Christy Gunn) Maki, of Dillon; and brothers Kevin Maki and Neil (Fran) Maki, of Corvallis. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Alexis, Chet and Kaden Maki; Chas, Lane and Sage Buus; Mackenzie, Lukas, Jack, Gabe and Adam Maki; Zach and Amelia Maki. He has one great-grandson: Robert (Bo) Bowman IV.

Rosary (6:30 p.m.) and Vigil Services (7 p.m.) will be Friday at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Dillon and Funeral Mass (10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, with a luncheon at the Parish Center following the burial at Mountain View Cemetery.

Memorials can be made to Beaverhead County 4-H Foundation or Barrett Hospital Home Health and Hospice. A guestbook is available online at