Life has come full circle for Steve Smith and his daughter Julie. It took more than 40 years to do so.
Steve was a security guard at Malmstrom Air Force Base in the early 1970's. After he was re-assigned to Soesterberg Air Force Base in Holland, he and his wife divorced. She took the kids and he had a lengthy stay in a German hospital following a car accident.
"By the time I got out of Wiesbaden, the Air Force sent me home and I just lost touch with everybody,” said Steve who is retired. “Julie was the stubborn one, she was the one who stayed on track."
About a year ago, the pair met up through facebook, which led to regular meetings on Skype. Julie told her somewhat skeptical father, she'd like to meet him face to face for the first time since she was just a baby.
“She showed a copy of the (airline) ticket and that's how I found out she was coming," said Steve, who grew up in Columbia Falls.
Julie said she enlisted the help of a cousin in Billings to find her dad. They started going through Facebook profiles until they found him.
Just before 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday , Julie along with her two sons Nick and Sidney, and partner Maurice, completed their transatlantic trip from the Netherlands to the Electric City.
"Happy, I'm very happy. I'm very grateful,” said Julie on seeing her father for the first time in more than four decades. “I'm very grateful that I had the chance to meet him, we still have time. Its not too late."
Steve has a busy schedule planned to reintroduce Julie to her native Montana, including visiting the old Columbus Hospital in Great Falls where she was born. There's also a family reunion planned in Columbia Falls, something Steve and Julie say is important because after all these years apart, both their families have grown.
" It was a part of the reason I wanted to do it because its part of their backgound, of my two boys, its also their history. Its a little history.. Its their roots," said Julie.
Steve now lives in Billings with his wife, Sue.
Steve says he’s working on developing a relationship with Shane, another son from his first marriage.