Troy Helmick 1933-2018

Our friend and colleague Troy Helmick passed away early this year.  Troy was a close associate of Les Davis for many years and sketched many of his artifact illustrations.  He was an avid artifact collector, champion atlatl thrower and contributed greatly to the field of archaeology in Montana.  Following is a video of Troy interviewing Leni Clubb, one of the founders of the World Atlatl Associatoon at a competition at Blacktail Ranch.  There is also an interview with Troy and shots of Troy throwing the atlatl.


Troy's Obituary (reprinted from the Helena Independent Record)

Troy Clifford Helmick, 84 of Townsend passed away on February 20, 2018 at home with members of his family after a heartbreaking battle with cancer. He was born on August 31, 1933 to Kathleen Riggleman and Creed Helmick in Frenchton, WV but spent his adult life in Montana.

Troy was self-reliant, hard-working, patriotic and civic-minded. As a young man, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force only to have his dreams cut short by a medical discharge due to a congenital foot deformity. Following that setback, he moved to Montana where he lived an active and physically-demanding life.

He began his career on a survey crew with the Bureau of Reclamation and later transferred to the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a Civil Engineer Technician. He had a wide variety of interests and roles including volunteer fireman, historian, archeologist, flintknapper, artist, photographer, athlete, sportsman, father and husband. He was loved and respected by all who knew him and will be remembered for his soft spoken nature, friendly demeanor and dry wit.

Troy met Shirley Jean Doty in her hometown of Three Forks MT. Following a long-distance romance and hundreds of miles of hitchhiking across frozen landscapes, he and Shirley were married on January 17, 1954. The couple spent their first years in Box Elder and Tiber Dam along the Montana Hi-Line before Troy was transferred to Canyon Ferry where he worked on a project to bring irrigation water from the Missouri River to the Helena Valley.

In 1960, Troy moved his family to Townsend and landed a position with the SCS. During the winter months, he was charged with conducting Snow Surveys of the upper reaches of major watersheds. There he was witness to some of the most pristine scenery Montana has to offer.

Among Troy’s many accomplishments in service organizations are: Past Commander, American Legion Post 42; founding member of the Crimson Bluffs Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Foundation; Townsend Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee original member; Old Baldy Golf Course past president; and World Atlatl Association past president.

Troy aggressively supported competitive sports, both traditional and non-traditional. He pioneered efforts to promote the atlatl, an ancient hunting weapon used throughout North America. He helped stage atlatl competitions in several states where he and family members won many trophies. Fast-pitch softball was another area where Troy competed in and won state championships. He once performed as catcher for nationally renowned exhibition softball pitcher, Eddie Feigner. In support of local sports in Townsend, Troy helped plan and build parks and recreation areas. One of the most ambitious projects was designing the Old Baldy Golf Course and transforming barren landscape into the beautiful tree-lined course.

In 2002, the Governor presented a personal award in recognition of Troy’s work in Archeology. He participated in archeological or historical field work in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Turner’s Flying D Ranch and at the site of the Mann Gulch Fire. His artwork and articles were published in nationally recognized journals and he donated a personal collection of over 6000 artifacts to the Bureau of Land Management’s Billings Curator Center.

Troy and Shirley’s contributions to local and state history are evident in exhibits and artifacts on display in the Broadwater County Historical Museum, the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman and even the Thunderbird Museum at Nellis Air Force Base, NV. Another of Troy’s creations is on display in the capitol city - A pen and ink sketch he donated to the Montana Historical Society. It hangs in the old Governor’s Mansion in a room dedicated to his daughter Char Pentecost.

Troy was proceeded in death by his parents, brothers Doy Helmick and Kenny Helmick, and daughter Char Pentecost. He is survived by his wife Shirley, children Rhonda Helmick, Buckhannon WV, Brent (Lydia) Helmick, Marina CA, Leslie (Joe) Owen, Buckhannon WV, Dean (Pamela) Helmick, Plattsmouth NE and Coleene (Jon) Rychalski, Alexandria VA, 12 Grandchildren, 6 Great Grandchildren, a brother Lynn (Christine) Helmick, Buckhannon WV, and sisters Ann Crawford, Frenchton WV, and Joan (Ken) Palmer, Aurora CO.
On Monday February 26, 2018 there will be a public viewing at the Stevenson Wilke Funeral home in Townsend, 212 Broadway, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and 5:00 to 8:00. The family will be present from 5:00 to 7:00. A Rosary will begin at 10:30 am Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Townsend followed by a funeral mass at 11:00 and military honors. A luncheon will be held after the service in the Catholic Church basement.

The body will be cremated with interment at Fort Harrison at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Broadwater County Museum or charity of your choice. Please visit to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Troy.

Written by : Daniel J. Smith