Helen Lee Hanft, 95, of Dayton, passed away on Sunday, March 19, 2023 at her home at the Beehive (Willow Creek Elder Care) in Sheridan, WY.
Helen was born to Thomas A. and N. Marie (Harris) Davis on November 19, 1927 in Dayton. She graduated from Dayton High School in May of 1944. She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, returning to Sheridan to graduate from Heimen's Business College. Helen Lee Davis and John Edward Hanft were joined in marriage on August 12, 1946 at the First Methodist Church in Hardin, MT. At the time of their marriage they were both employed at Sheridan Wyoming Coal Company in Monarch.
Shortly thereafter, they purchased and rebuilt the Corner Grocery in Dayton and operated the store for several years. While John worked construction after selling the store, Helen was employed by the Superintendent of the Dayton (later Tongue River) School District. They then began ranching on the outskirts of Dayton. Upon leaving the ranch in 1960, the couple purchased Bear Lodge Resort and did extensive renovation. They made many long lasting and loving friendships while at the lodge. They also built the original Blue Spruce, currently Elkview Resort. After selling Bear Lodge, they purchased Twin Buttes cabins and deeded land located within the Big Horn National Forest. After selling the cabins they bought ranches near Banner and Story where they raised Charolais cattle. While in Story they developed the Hanft and Piney Creek Subdivisions with their son and daughter-in-law Larry and Vicki Hanft. John and Helen sold the Story ranches in 1989 to Larry and Vicki and continued living on their ranch in Banner. In June 1986, John and Helen built the Elkhorn Trailer Park on top of the Big Horn Mountains. They thoroughly enjoyed their summers at the Elkhorn with family and friends. In 1993 they sold their Banner ranch and moved to Larry and Vicki's ranch on Wolf Creek, later moving with them to the Little Tongue Ranch outside of Dayton.
Helen's life was her family. There was no greater pride or joy than that which she shared with her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and her 5 great grandchildren.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband John, their parents, her granddaughter Dr. Laura Lee Polster Clifford, and her sister-in-law Martha Chalfant. She is survived by her daughter Sandra Lee (Fred) Prunty of Sheridan, and her son Larry Edward (Vicki) Hanft of Dayton: her 3 grandchildren, Dr. Marsha Lee (Leonard) Sano of Canby, OR, Shawn Edward (Mary) Hanft of Dayton, and John James “Jay” (Colee) Hanft of Aberdeen, MT; her great grandchildren Colter John Hanft, Avery John Clifford, Johnna Lee Clifford, Nicholas Frederick Sano, and Mesa Diane Hanft: her nephew Fred (Laurie) Chalfant of Lake Havasu, AZ, her niece Tempe (Mark) Murphy of Sheridan, and great nephew Earl (Lacey) Chalfant of Lake Havasu.
The family would like to give specials thanks to her extended family at the Beehive for their love, dedication, and care over the past nine years. The family would also like to thank Brenda Perea and Martha Cover-Killian of Sheridan Home Health Care and Hospice for their love and assistance the past few years.
Memorials may benefit the Dayton Fire and Rescue, P.O. Box 100, Dayton, WY 82836.
A Celebration of Life Open House with a public viewing will be held on Sunday, March 26, 2023 from 2 – 4 pm at the Kane Funeral Home. Interment will take place on Monday March 27, 2023 at the Elks Section, of the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery next to her husband John.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.