Neal Stormont went by both names in his home in Kansas, but here in Laurel,
Montana he was "Stormy"
He spent 3 1/2 years on a tanker in the South Pacific
during World War II clinging to the dream of coming back to Montana to hunt and
fish. He was working at the Farmers Union Oil Refinery when he joined the
Navy and returned to work there for a year or more. He always knew he
wanted his own business and built his "Stormont Machine and Welding Shop" in
He built several machines he used in the shop. His work was always very
precise. To comply with a loan from the Small Business Administration he
patented his steel "Buck RakeTeeth". The haying equipment at the time used
wood, usually oak teath that broke under the heavy load. The steel sticks
were well received throughout the Northwestern states.
During this time, he took advantage of the GI Bill and took flying instruction
under Clete Huff in Columbus, MT. Like everything he did, he learned well
and went on to get his Private Pilot license, a Commercial license and his
Instructor rating. He had a passion for flying. Everyone who had
their first airplane ride said they would love to go again. His students
excelled. The farmers enjoyed seeing their farms from the air.
Work went on at the shop and a man from Alberta, Canada, Bob Asher, said he
needed someone to build a Leaf Cutter Bee machine that would remove the larvae
from the bee boards. This was the challange that drove him and he made the
machine. They are still being used today.
He did not go at anything half-hearted. The Laurel Golf Course was being
developed, and he said "he sure did not want to play "pasture pool", but the bug
bit hard. Every Thursday which was Men's Day, he was there. After 18
holes of golf, the poker games started and lasted until the wee small hours of
Stormy said he didn't want to retire. He wanted to lock the door and play
with his machinery. In the Fall of 1967, Dr. Calvert told him he had lung
cancer. He replied, "you have to play the cards you are dealt". He
was 69 years old. The farmers left their beet harvest to attend his
Funeral Serivce. Rev. Wilhelm welcomed us to his church and the "Missing
Aircraft Formation" flew over as we left the church
**Submitted by Betty Stormont