Melvin and Irene Tombre

Mel died January 25, 2013 at the scene of a single car accident on I-94 as he and Mom were returning from a shopping trip in Billings.
Irene died January 29, 2013, at the Billings Clinic as a result of her injuries from the accident.

Melvin and Irene Tombre
Melvin and Irene Tombre

Posted February 7, 2013

Andrew “Melvin” Tombre

Funeral service for Andrew “Melvin” Tombre, 86, of Savage was held Feb. 4, 2013 at the Yellowstone Community Church in Savage with Pastor Tom Koffkey officiating. Interment was in the Riverview Cemetery in Savage.

Andrew Melvin Tombre was born to Hans and Lena (Lundervik) Tombre in Carryhurst, WY on August 9, 1926, the youngest of five sons. Hans moved the family to Montana shortly thereafter. Hans worked for a farmer south of Savage by the name of Sam Coulee. Sam liked Hans’ work ethic and wanted to retire. He offered Hans the opportunity to buy the farm on a contract for deed in 1931 – an offer which Hans readily accepted. This was the farm that was to remain in the Tombre family for the next four generations and counting.

Mel attended school in Savage, starting for the high school basketball team from his freshman year on. Mel graduated in 1944 and immediately volunteered to join the Navy. He served throughout the remainder of World War II as a gunner on a merchant ship, traveling around the world several times in that interim.

Following the war, Mel worked on a custom combining crew, following the harvest from Texas to Canada. After that, he started driving a tanker truck out of Miles City. It was at a dance in December of 1950 that he met a pretty little brunette with the tiniest waist who was working as a bookkeeper at the Farmers Union by the name of Irene Schuetzle. According to Irene, their first date was quite eventful. Mel had borrowed a car and they were parked at a spot overlooking the Tongue River when the car ran out of gas. Mel didn’t think it necessary to walk back to town, his buddy knew where they were and he would come looking for them. So they relaxed and waited – waiting so long that Mel fell asleep and his cap fell off. Irene was shocked to discover he was bald! She thought she was dating a man old enough to be her father! But after she learned that Mel was only 24, their romance continued to blossom. Mel and Irene were married on November 18, 1951.

Being married to a trucker with crazy hours wasn’t the best way to start a marriage, so Mel quickly concluded it was time to get back to the farm. While on the farm, their first two children, Mark and Susan were born. During these years, the farm was operating a 50-cow dairy. Mel didn’t like the seven days a week dairy requirements, and started looking for other opportunities. A friend talked him into the advantages of barbering, and he was soon off to Spokane where he graduated number one in his class. During that six-month school, Irene was in Spokane as well where she ultimately gave birth to their third and last child, Wade, while their other two children stayed with their maternal grandparents.

Mel started his barbering career in Coulee Dam, WA, where he would remain for the next three years. But, his desire was to own his own barber shop, and that opportunity became a reality when he moved his young family to Helena, MT, in the summer of 1960. While visiting back on the farm that Christmas, Mel’s brother, Birger, was bemoaning all the problems he had endured with hired men since Mel had left the farm. Mel admitted he had always loved to farm, he just hated the dairy. “If you ever sold those cows, Birger, I’d be back on this farm in a heartbeat.” Without taking a breath Birger shouted, “Sold!”

Mel sold his barbershop and moved the family back to the farm on St. Patrick’s Day, 1961. This would be his last move this side of eternity. Then an amazing thing happened in 1965. Mel truly heard the simple gospel message for the first time and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. It was a turning point in his life. He would never be the same, and it was a message he loved to share with anyone who would listen. Many did listen, and many lives were changed as a result of Mel’s witness.

Mel served on his church board for many years as well as the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project Board. He served on the Savage School Board for nine years. He was president of the local chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men for many years and was currently serving as chairman of the Sidney Airport Board at the time of his death.

Mel earned his pilot’s license at the age of 49 and flew for many years thereafter. However his word of advice for small private plane pilots was, “If you’ve got lots of time to get somewhere and back, fly; but if you’re in a hurry, you’d better drive.” This lesson learned more than once after being grounded while away from home due to bad weather.

Mel was always interested in trying something new, so at different times in his life he had raised fainting goats, miniature horses, and emus. Mel had many other loves this side of heaven, too. He loved to read his Bible every morning. He loved coffee time at Gary Nelson’s garage. He loved his kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and most of all he loved his wife, Irene.

He was never ashamed of showing affection to Mom in front of us kids. We were eye-witnesses to many hugs and kisses between them as we grew up.

Dad’s advice to any prospective groom was, “Never forget to tell your wife you love her every day.” And he practiced what he preached. Dad shared that he and Mom would end each night before drifting off to sleep with prayer, a kiss, and “I love you’s” between them.

Mel died January 25, 2013 at the scene of a single car accident on I-94 as he and Mom were returning from a shopping trip in Billings.

Mel was preceded in death by his parents, Hans and Lena Tombre; his four brothers, Elmer, Birger, Norman, and Harold Tombre; a niece, Ingrid Dumolt; and great grandson, Dayce Tombre.

Irene Tombre

Funeral service for Irene Tombre, 81, of Savage was held Feb. 4, 2013 at the Yellowstone Community Church in Savage with Pastor Tom Koffkey officiating. Interment was in the Riverview Cemetery in Savage.

Irene Betty Schuetzle was the first child born to Ted and Melita (Hoenke) Schuetzle in Plevna, MT on June 13, 1931. Brothers Glen and Al would arrive on the scene in the following years. Irene grew up on the family farm 17 miles west of Plevna. Living that far from town, she attended a little country school initially, where her teacher realized she was sharp enough that she could push her through two grades at once. Consequently, Irene graduated from Plevna High School in 1948 at the age of 16.

In those days, a college degree wasn’t necessary to teach in a country school, so that’s what she did the following year. However, when the opportunity to move to the big city of Miles City and work as a bookkeeper for Farmers Union became a possibility, Irene jumped at the chance.

It was here as a 19-year old that she met her prince in shining armor who seemed to reflect that personality of his perfectly by the way he wore his cap cocked a little to one side. A year later they would be married, an inseparable partnership which would last for the next 62 years.

In five years, Irene found herself the mother of three little preschoolers, an often exhausting, but most often a fulfilling job. In a few more years, when they were all in school, she seemed busier than ever—chauffeuring to school activities, nursing one sick child after another, and always the consummate teacher making sure the homework was getting done, and always willing to help, especially with those tough math problems.

Irene loved the move back to the farm in 1961. She loved to garden, and now she could have as big a garden as she wanted. She loved chickens. She would get a minimum of 100 baby chicks each year, raising them to butcher or to be egg-laying hens. She had her own egg route each week, with customers from Savage to Sidney. In fact, her personalized license plate read, “Egg Lady.” Mom was very proud of the fact that her egg money took care of all the family’s grocery needs. She also loved bum lambs. For many years Dad and Birger had about 300 ewes, and many of the smaller, weaker lambs went to Mom to raise. She would faithfully feed milk to these lambs twice a day until they were big enough to wean.

Irene loved to help out by driving truck. She would drive truck in each harvest, from hay chopping to corn chopping to beet harvest. In fact, Mom was still driving beet truck in her 70’s and if she ever returned to the field and had some time on her hands, you would find her out picking up any stray beets which had somehow evaded the harvester. She loved to bake and cook. For many years she would bring loads of baked goods to the county fair. She would return home with loads of blue ribbons and the cash that went along with that, and we kids and Dad had loads of great desserts to carry us into another school year. Later, when we were all married, Mom loved to cook up a feast for the holidays, and at Christmas time that included all sorts of homemade candies.

Irene also came to love the computer age. She eagerly learned all she could about how to use the computer. She enjoyed playing games on the computer and had also become quite a Facebook fan. And, of course, her great-grandkids had special places as part of her screen saver.

Irene not only loved to play computer games, she just loved to play games, card games, board games, marble games, you name it, she was ready to play. We kids thought that was a great trait to have in a mother on those long, cold winter days when you were stuck in the house and bored.

Irene’s bookkeeping abilities were never allowed to rest either. She served as the farm’s bookkeeper from 1961 until her death, always keeping immaculate records. These skills will be sorely missed.

And of course, Irene loved her husband. She was a wonderful helpmate, so supportive of everything he chose to do, and her love for the Lord was a vibrant as his. Following their encounter with Jesus Christ in 1965, Mom loved Bible studies and memorizing Scripture. She was so excited when she actually memorized a whole chapter of the Bible—the Love Chapter—1 Corinthians 13.

Irene died January 29, 2013, at the Billings Clinic as a result of her injuries from the accident.

Irene was preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Melita Schuetzle; her two brothers, Glen and Al Schuetzle; a niece, Ingrid Dumolt; and great grandson, Dayce Tombre.

Mel and Irene are survived by sons Mark (Melanie) Tombre, Savage, and Wade (Ellen) Tombre, Savage; daughter Susan (Mark) Enos, Baker; eleven grandchildren, Tamara (Buck) Dabill and their three children, Kai, Jack, and River, Savage; Talina (Rob) Schwab and their two children, Daphne and Truth, Portland, OR; Tyler (Chandi) Tombre and their four children, Cade, Jaeger, Aubany, and Lily, Savage; Travis Tombre and his fiance Tiffany, Coeur d’Alene, ID; Sara (Michael) Bacon, Glendive; Damian (Bryce) Jones and their daughter, Myleigh, Sidney; Nikki (Josh) Steig and their two children, Owen and Jasia, Baker; Charity Enos, Palm Springs, CA; Chad (Sarah) Enos and their three children Ellie, Levi, and Jace, Bakersfield, CA; Ryan (Katie) Tombre and their son Dylan, Gaum; and Cole (Stephanie) Tombre and their son, Zach, and unborn daughter Liberty.

Mom shared with us so many times how it was her hope that she and Dad could somehow go to Heaven together. She just couldn’t imagine being left behind without Dad. Well, Mom, God knew your heart and chose to give you your heart’s desire.

Dad and Mom, we love you both so much, and your sudden absence is leaving a big hole in our hearts—but we have the wonderful hope of knowing that we will see you both again someday. Followers of Jesus Christ never say goodbye for the last time.

Fulkerson Funeral Home of Sidney was in charge of arrangements. Remembrances and condolences may be shared at


One thought on “Melvin and Irene Tombre

  1. What a beautiful story. I am so honored to know this family. The story deserves to be in a book! Very inspirational. Mel and Irene will be missed.

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