Cover photo for Wilma Puich's Obituary
Wilma Puich Profile Photo

Wilma Puich

September 30, 1939 — June 18, 2022

Wilma Puich

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, good neighbor and true friend, Wilma Claire Puich passed away on June 18, 2022 at Beehive Assisted Living of Herriman in Herriman, Utah. She was born in Butte to Bill and Ruth (Vigus) Blewett on September 30th, 1939.

On March 4th, 1962 she married Donald Puich in Aldersgate Methodist Church. The admiration and unconditional love they shared for each other carried through the good times and the bad for 49 years. They became the very proud parents of a son Samuel (Emely) Puich of Herriman, Utah and a daughter Jill Lynn Puich of Irvine, California. In 2007 she became a grandmother to her first and only grandchild Zachary. Being Zachary’s “Granny” was the best thing in her life.

Wilma attended Emerson Elementary School and Butte High and they both became an integral part of her life. She often said that she lived in the best of times and she cherished the time she spent in these two facilities. Serving as co-chairman of the Butte High 56/57 50th reunions she researched the elementary schools of the 50’s and each of the 8th grade graduation pictures for every school. The large poster of this document is housed in the Butte Archives. She did the same for many other class reunions and for other special events. She could contact most of her 8th grade graduation living classmates and loved the Emerson and Butte High “get togethers” held many times during the years.

One of her greatest joys in life was helping others. "No" was not a word in her vocabulary when her help was needed and giving came with one question; “Are you sure that’s enough?” This went for family, friends and even the plumber when he was doing work in her home.

For over 45 years she worked in the area of emergency management. First as the Butte Chapter American Red Cross Executive Secretary and for 30 years as the Butte Silver Bow Government Emergency Manager. In 1993 she became Montana’s first Certified Emergency Manager. This accomplishment, many years in the making at various schools around the country, required meeting the extensive educational requirements, meeting program standards, implementing the standards and meeting special criteria.

Several milestones to her career in emergency management included the implementation of the first 9-1-1 system to Butte-Silver Bow and to the State. Her dedication to the 9-1-1 program continued throughout her career and she was appointed by two Governors to serve on the Montana 9-1-1 Advisory Board. On her retirement she received an award from the Advisory Board for her loyalty to it. Her school all-hazard planning became a model for counties around the country. Following the tragic Columbine School shooting in Colorado she was asked by the U.S. Department of Education to teach two workshops in Colorado Springs on her coordinated school disaster planning concept. A Lifetime Membership Award was established in her name to be presented to a local Disaster & Emergency Services Coordinator when it was deemed necessary. A colleague’s tribute, printed in the Dec. 19th, Mt. Standard, 2006, addition said “every county in Montana has been touched in some way by Puich. She was the most capable, respected and copied DES leader in the state. She was able to make a lot of things happen that others wouldn’t have even tried. We all owe her a debt of gratitude.”

Her last major accomplishment in the position was to secure a new mobile communication van purchased with money from a grant she wrote for $219,732.00. She wrote grants for the first responders totaling over $600,778.00. She began the work to build the new Highway Patrol/Emergency Management facility and was so recognized at the dedication of the building.

Her awards were many and included: United States Civil Defense Council Presidential Citation awarded to her twice; the Business and Professional Woman’s Club Woman of the Year; the United States Civil Defense Council Distinguished Service Award; Outstanding Young Women of the Year nominee; Community Leaders of America nominee; Montana Disaster and Emergency Services outstanding Coordinator four times; the Board of Directors Award from the 1590 Search and Rescue organization; the Lifetime Membership Award from the American Red Cross; the Lifetime Membership Award from the Butte Amateur Radio Club; the 2005 Women of Distinction Award to name a few. In 2013 she was appointed to serve as a member of the Butte Sports Hall of Fame Committee. She was appointed in 2014 as the Historian for Aldersgate United Methodist Church. She was a member of the Homer Club, the Courthouse Birthday Club, Cornish Cousins of Butte and the Thursday lunch bunch who have been meeting for over 30 years.

Upon her retirement she did not rest. She started in 2005 to research the history of Butte Schools. In 2015 a book was printed by the Butte Archives addressing this history which became the first and only book of its kind in Butte. Her legacy will be her love of Butte and the schools that served Butte from 1866 – 2015. Up until the end she would get calls from all over the country asking about a school and she would also respond with a picture or research. She later went on to complete the history of the Methodist Church’s which currently hangs in the Chapel of the Aldersgate Church.

Wilma will be remembered for her complete and unselfish devotion to her entire family. She loved to cook for and feed family and friends and her deepest wish was that everyone had a full plate and cup overflowing, both in reality and spiritually. She will be deeply missed by all who were privileged to know her. She was the contact with all of her Blewett and Vigus cousins and she loved them all.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Donald, her parents, her sister Marlyn Beth Hooper, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law Mary Pat and George Puich, her in-laws Sam and Helen Puich and her nephew Ron Hooper.

She is survived by her son Samuel and wife Emely and grandson Zachary of Herriman, UT and daughter Jill Lynn Puich of Irvine, CA, her brother and sister in law Bob and Carol Blewett of Yuma, Arizona, her only living aunt Emily Vigus of Walnut Creek, California, her very special niece Debbie (Bill) Bajovich of Butte, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins all of whom she loved dearly. Many devoted friends were always there for her including Sara Sparks, Alyson Harvey Williams, Colleen Boyle, Carol Orr, Dannette Harrington, Lori Maloney and Joanie McCarthy.

In accordance with her request there will be no wake. A visitation will be held prior to the services at Aldersgate Methodist Church on Saturday, July 16th. Aldersgate Church became her rock and she was a lifetime member of the Methodist community even when her C.O.P.D. kept her from going. Cremation has taken place. The visitation will begin at 9:00 am at Aldersgate Methodist Church (1621 Thornton Ave, Butte, MT) and a memorial ceremony will follow at 10:00 am. Entombment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery. A luncheon will be held at Aldersgate following the entombment.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested to the Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children, P.O. Box 2472 Spokane, WA 99210 or to the Aldersgate Methodist Church or to a charity of your own choosing. The family would like to thank Clarke and Meren Hilbig and their entire staff at Beehive Homes of Herriman as well as Canyon Hospice. Their care and compassion for our mom was exceptional and beyond expectations.



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