Mack Emett Burgess, 89 years, went to his Heavenly Father on Sunday, September 18, 2022 surrounded by his loving family at Benefis. Mack's entire life from childhood to his dying day was overcoming obstacles, but this last obstacle, cancer, he could not overcome.
Mack was born on October 29, 1932, in a sheepherder's cabin in Mountain View, Wyoming to Philip Hammond and Anna Iva (Emett) Burgess. He was the third of four boys. His family lived in Great Falls and eventually moved to Simms where he learned farming and a love for trucks.
Mack left home and started driving truck when he was 15 years old and was one of the first drivers to haul freight on the new Alaskan Highway. He joined the Marine Corps when he was 19. After a number of boxing matches, the Marine Corps offered him to become a boxer for the Marines. He turned the offer down because he wanted to go to Korea “pretty bad”. While in Korea his older brother, Fenton, had the babysitter of his children, Norma Jean Marr, write to him. They exchanged many letters and when he returned from Korea, they became engaged his first night back, and were married a mere three months later on June 7, 1955 in the Cardston, Alberta Temple. They recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.
Mack's love of work drove him far. His strong work ethic, intelligence, and problematic skills guided him through out his life. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Mack and Norma lived in Bremerton, Washington. They moved home to help his father break up sod and farm some land between Simms and Cascade. He and Norma built a small home 17 miles from the last electric pole. He then moved his small family into Great Falls in 1959 and went into a trucking partnership with just a trailer. That soon evolved into Wholesalers Transport, then Builders Transport and finally to Americana Expressways. Americana Expressways hauled freight all over the United States and Canada, When he sold Americana he owned over 100 trucks, 30 owner operator trucks, and employed over 250 people in Great Falls. He also helped many people start companies including an armored car service in the State of Montana. In his later years he started American Capital Funding with one of his daughters and later Eagles Nest Log Homes selling Log Homes.
He loved ranching, and especially horses. He and his wife built a ranch outside of Simms in the 1970s where they ran over 500 head of cattle with their children. He organized and ran two cattle drives moving cattle to summer pasture. He and Norma also loved to pack horses into the Bob Marshall Wilderness with family and friends and went on many trips there.
He was a life long member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ever faithful priesthood holder. He loved the gospel and people and filled many callings including Young Men's President, Counselor in the Bishopric, High Counselor, and Branch President. When Mack and Norma were called to a mission in Browning, Montana to establish and grow the church there, it was one of their greatest joys. They became very respected on the reservation and were both adopted into the Blackfeet Tribe by George Kickingwoman and given the names of Water Bird to Mack and Good Leader Woman to Norma. They developed life long relationships that still remain intact today.
Mack and Norma had six children; three girls and three boys. Two of the boys died as infants and then later adopted a son. He also mentored several young men whom he still considers sons to this day. Another one of Mack's greatest joys was being a grandpa. He dearly loved his grandchildren. He always tried to guide them through life's trials and make sure they knew he loved them and had a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He leaves behind his good wife of 67 years, Norma Jean; five children: Denice (Bruce) Mills of Great Falls, Montana, Nanette (Bill) Hjelm of Heber, Utah, Renae (Rick) Linn of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Stan (Jamie) Burgess of Nome, Alaska, and Merlin Middlerider of Heart Butte, Montana. He also leaves behind 18 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren; brothers Fenton (Indra) Burgess of Ogden, Utah and Theron (Barbara) of Corvallis, Oregon; numerous nieces and nephews and many many others who called him Dad or Grandpa.
He is proceeded in death by his parents; two sons, Mark Emett Burgess and Mack Emett Burgess II; a brother, Galen Burgess; two sister-in-laws, Lois Stewart Burgess and Nancy Carr Burgess, and two grandchildren, Marc Jacob Burgess and Nicole Jean Linn.
He will be sorely missed by all who knew him, but will be greeted by the many loved ones that went before him.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1401 -9th Street NW, Great Falls, MT followed by a graveside service at Highlands Cemetery
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