On May 25, 2023, Grant William Harrer, physician and rancher of Great Falls, MT, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his wife and three children. Grant was born on September 6, 1953, to William (Bill) and Dolores Harrer. He graduated from Great Falls High School in 1971. After high school, Grant attended Montana State University where he took 20+ credits per semester to help inform his decision between law and medicine, while competing on the MSU’s debate team. After deciding to pursue medicine, he transferred to the University of Washington, graduating in 1975.
It’s difficult to tell the story of Grant’s life without context for his own health battles. At the age of seven, Grant was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Though he preferred to keep his personal health problems private, his disease made everything Grant set out to achieve that much more challenging. It also stoked his remarkable ambition with a strong desire to prove wrong anyone who told him he couldn’t make it through medical school, or that he wouldn’t live to see age 50, or otherwise sought to make diabetes an excuse to constrain his life’s purpose.
After graduating college, Grant struggled to get into medical school. Though his scholastic achievements and extracurricular accolades were impressive, in the 1970s being a diabetic was a significant hurdle. There weren’t protections against discrimination of individuals with medical conditions.
The story of Grant eventually having a fair chance began with a family friend getting injured while on vacation and landing in the care of the famous trauma surgeon, Dr. Red Duke, in Houston, Texas. While in recovery the friend told Duke about a Montana ranch boy with a notable academic record, standout work ethic, and a whole lot of grit who desperately wanted to become a physician. Duke arranged for Grant to interview at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School and shortly thereafter he was admitted. The rest, as they say, is history.
Grant married Lynn Castleman in 1978. In January 1982, their daughter, Amber, was born in Salt Lake City, UT where Grant travailed through his internal medicine residency and hematology/oncology fellowship at University of Utah Hospital. In 1986 the family returned to Montana where Grant started his private oncology and hematology practice in Great Falls. In July 1989 son, Travis, was born. Grant and Lynn divorced in 1992.
In 1994 Grant married Deanna Pelensky. In February 1998, their daughter, Rebecca, was born. Deanna loved and supported Grant in all aspects of their lives together and enabled Grant’s ambitions and priorities across his career, family matters, personal health battles, and ranching to name a few.
In the early 1990s, Grant and Deanna began purchasing the cattle and leasing the land of Lost Lake Ranch from Grant’s parents, eventually converting the herd to 80% registered cattle. In 1994 Grant established the annual Lost Lake Ranch production sale, selling registered bulls and heifers. Grant loved the land and the cattle of Lost Lake Ranch and thoroughly enjoyed the science and data analysis of cattle breeding. In later years when he was no longer able to do the physical work of ranching, he still found fulfillment studying pedigrees, poring over genetic data, and making breeding decisions.
Grant retired from patient care in 2019 but continued to find fulfillment serving as a physician advisor for clinical trials at the Sletten Cancer Institute up until his passing. He carried on running Lost Lake Ranch and continued to lead planning of the annual Lost Lake Ranch cattle sale, hosting the most recent sale on March 27, 2023. Grant also loved to cook for his family and friends and returned to the kitchen with vigor in retirement.
Grant is survived by his wife Deanna Harrer of Great Falls, MT, daughter Amber Broadbent of Bend, OR, son Travis Harrer of Bend, OR, daughter Rebecca Harrer of Bozeman, MT, father William Harrer of Great Falls, MT sister Karen Davis of Geraldine, MT and three grandchildren Ryland Broadbent, Addyson Broadbent, and Fisk Harrer.
To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the Schnider Funeral Home website.
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