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Obituary: Arlyne Reichert

January 14, 1926 ~ May 3, 2024
Arlyne Reichert
April 14, 1926 ~ May 3, 2024
Posted at 1:44 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 11:44:58-04

Arlyne Reichert, 98, affectionately known as “The Bridge Lady”, passed away at Peace Hospice in Great Falls, Montana on May 3, 2024, surrounded by the love of her family. Born to Ann and Charles Cohn on January 14,1926, Arlyne Estelle Cohn was raised in Buffalo, New York, where, in 1942, she met Harold “Rick” Reichert at a Christmas Day USO dance party.

Rick was in the Army Air Corps stationed in Niagara Falls prior to his tour of duty in England during World War II. Near the end of the war, Rick was assigned to the base in Great Falls. Arlyne cut short her nurses training to follow the love of her life to Big Sky Country. Arlyne and Rick were married in Great Falls on September 4,1945.

Arlyne spent much of the next two decades raising her five children, while being active in the PTA, League of Women Voters, Hadassah, Great Falls Public Library, and as one of the founders of local Public Radio. Her mother, Ann Cohn, and her only sibling, Gary Cohn, also moved to Great Falls, where they maintained lifelong close family ties.

Arlyne Reichert
Arlyne Reichert

After his military service, Rick was a mechanic, Great Falls firefighter, and talented carpenter who built the family home where Arlyne lived for more than 76 years. Rick died of cancer in 1968. Arlyne, who was only 42 at the time, still had several of her five children at home. To support her family, she went to work as a secretary at the McLaughlin Research Institute (MRI), gradually taking on many responsibilities, including technical editor of a scientific journal, lab supervisor, and public relations spokesperson. By the time she retired in 1988, she was MRI’s Assistant Director.

Arlyne always had a passion for improving local and state government. In 1972 she was one of 100 elected delegates to rewrite Montana’s Constitution.

She maintained great pride in that document throughout her long life. Arlyne was also a legislative reporter for local television stations, she served in the Montana Legislature, and spearheaded the statewide initiative for Montana to adopt a one house ‘unicameral’ legislature.
After her husband’s death, Arlyne developed a special relationship with widower Dr. Jack Stimpfling and his children. Arlyne and Jack were kindred spirits, and enjoyed each other’s company until Jack’s death in 1993.

In 1994, Arlyne mobilized a community of supporters to save the Historic Tenth Street Bridge from imminent demolition. She led efforts to raise millions of dollars for the Bridge’s restoration for pedestrians. It truly was a labor of love that required thirty years of daily effort. Arlyne crossed life’s last bridge peacefully, knowing her namesake bridge is safely in the hands of a new generation of supporters.

Arlyne is survived by her children Cheryl (Charles Bocock) Reichert; Greg Reichert; Robert (Beth) Reichert, Claire (Tom) Baiz and eight grandchildren: Scott (Melissa); Cari (Scott Elden); Mara (Martin); Samatha (Lukas); Asa; Shad (Tammy); Elaine (Aditya); Elizabeth and five great-grandchildren: Riley (Emily), Ryan, Grace, Sophia, and Theodore. Arlyne was preceded in death by her parents, brother Gary (Debby) Cohn, and son Roger (Valerie) Reichert.

At Arlyne’s request, there will be a community-wide celebration of her life at the south end of the Historic ARCH Bridge at 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 21, 2024.

To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the Croxford Funeral Home website.