Choteau City Councilman, business owner and long-time 4-H leader Mark Brady Major, 45, died Oct. 8, 2021, at Benefis Health System in Great Falls after a sudden, catastrophic illness.
The funeral will be held on Oct. 17 with a viewing at 1 p.m. and the funeral at 2 p.m. at the Choteau LDS Church. Gorder-Jensen Funeral Home of Choteau is handling arrangements.
Mark was born on Dec. 4, 1975, in Bountiful, Utah, to Anita and Max Major. He grew up in Kaysville, Utah, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City and graduated from Davis High School at Kaysville in 1994.
After high school, he worked for about 18 months in different jobs, including as a cook in a German restaurant. He also served a two-year LDS mission in the Louisiana-Baton Rouge Mission.
In the last months of his mission, his grandmother sent him multiple college admission packets, and after he returned home, he worked for another year and then in 1999 enrolled at Utah State University. At college, he met Carolyn Jackson from Boise, Idaho, and they began dating. They started their eternal family on Aug. 20, 1999, at the Boise, Idaho, LDS Temple. They always chuckled on their anniversary because a misprint on their wedding announcements said they would be married on the 20th of August, Nineteen ‘Niney’ Nine.
Mark graduated from USU in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural systems technology and minors in animal science and agribusiness. Later that year, he accepted a graduate assistantship at the University of Nebraska, and in 2003, he completed his master’s degree in mechanized systems management. While at the university, he did a lot of work at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab.
Mark’s work experience included a stint as a herdsman for the USU dairy, as a technician in cereal grains and as a research assistant, working at a sporting goods store and teaching physics.
After earning his master’s degree, Mark was hired in 2003 as the Jerauld County Extension agent in South Dakota. He was a marketing/farm business management educator, one of five in the state who traveled to provide assistance to other Extension educators and consumers. He also worked in community development.
In 2006, hoping to get closer to family in Utah and Idaho, Mark applied for the position of Montana State University Extension agricultural agent in Choteau. One of five finalists, he was hired in November of 2006 and started in early 2007. At the time, Mark told the hiring committee that he missed the mountains of his childhood and thought living and working in Choteau would be a perfect fit for him and his young family. “In a way for me, it would be coming home and that’s what drew me here,” he said.
Mark and Carolyn established roots in Choteau. They brought their three older children, Rebekah, 5, and twins Katie and Jacob, 3, and their youngest, Andrew, was born here. During his five years with MSU Extension, Mark was active as a 4-H leader and worked with countless farmers and ranchers, helping them solve agricultural production problems. Many community members got to know him through a regular column he wrote for local newspapers, accompanied by a photo of him in his black cowboy hat. He also was heavily involved in an Extension-based anti-poverty initiative in Choteau. A tireless advocate for children, he was also active in the local Scouting program and served on the Choteau Education Foundation board.
In 2012, Mark left Extension and opened Broken Arrow Insurance in Choteau and Great Falls. He was a broker for the Horace Mann Educators Corporation, handling life, casualty and vehicle lines. Mark served on the board of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
During this time, he also was called to be the bishop of the Choteau LDS Ward, serving in that position until 2018. Always active in the church, Mark had been a teacher for the Young Men’s Program in recent years. He often helped young church members attend stake events and had also been a Sunday school teacher.
As a 4-H leader, Mark was particularly active with the local shooting sports project club and had helped with the Western Heritage Shooting Sports meet last August. He also volunteered with the Choteau High School football program as part of the “chain gang,” holding the sticks and measuring downs during home football games.
In 2017, he filed to run for election to the Choteau City Council and was elected for his first four-year term, running unopposed. He started his first term in office on Jan. 1, 2018, and had recently been reelected, again unopposed, and would have started his second term on Jan. 1, 2022.
Mark was motivated to run for city government out of a deep-seated drive to make Choteau the best it can be. He was following in his father’s footsteps as his dad had served as a public works director in Kaysville, and he remembered his dad wearing his best cowboy boots to the City Council meetings, where he had to give his report.
Having been a bishop and having gone through life-and-death heart surgery, Mark said the compassion he learned would help make him a good leader. He was right. He worked with community members and city officials to help improve the community. At the time of his death, he was working with another councilman on creating a skate park for Choteau kids and trying to come up with a plan to help Choteau homeowners take care of their property.
Mark had a wide variety of hobbies and interests. He enjoyed hunting birds and big game, and skeet and trap shooting, as well as fly-fishing, particularly in the mountains.
He was a volunteer with the Wessington Springs fire department and in Choteau he was a past member of the Choteau Jaycees. One of the Jaycees’ projects was the Caring Tree Christmas gift drive, and Mark was always first in line to get his load of presents to deliver to families here. He said it wasn’t Christmas until the Caring Tree packages were delivered. He had recently joined the Teton Antique Steam and Gas Association.
Mark played the bagpipes, having learned with a pipe and drum band started in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was a collector and history buff of all things related to World War II.
But there is no doubt that Mark’s deepest dedication and love was for his family. He once told the local newspaper, “Perhaps my most time consuming and rewarding hobby, if you can call it that, is spending time with my kids.”
Last year, Mark and Carolyn bought a travel trailer and this past summer, they spent every free weekend camping as a family, enjoying treasured moments and making memories. Part of Mark’s desire to open his own business was that it would give him the freedom to spend more time with his family and to attend all of his children’s school and extracurricular events.
He was so very proud of all his children’s activities from Katie’s volleyball and tennis to Jacob’s football and Andrew’s wrestling. He loved listening to their musical performances and was involved in all of their classes in school. He was also the dedicated picture taker in the family, and loved capturing all those memories.
If anyone asked Mark how he was doing, he would smile and say, “I’m living my dream.”
Mark meant so very much to so many people in this world. Some of the lessons he taught others were to carry forgiveness in your hearts and distribute it freely, to be light as you move through a world that can be heavy, to share your smile often, to laugh wholeheartedly, to be happy, to spend more time doing what brings you pleasure and to spend the most time with people you love.
Mark was preceded in death by his father in 1995 and his father-in-law Thomas Jackson.
Mark is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of Choteau; his children, Rebekah, Katie, Jacob and Andrew, all of Choteau; his mother, Anita, of Choteau; his siblings, Karina Robbins of Yuma, Arizona, Brian (Debbie) Major of Rathdrum, Idaho, and Scott (Kirsten) Major of Ogden, Utah; many nieces and nephews and other relatives.
He also leaves behind his mother-in-law Diane Jackson of Great Falls; his sister-in-laws, Laurie Jackson of Great Falls, Stefanie (David) Morgan of Colmont, Tennessee, Keri (Jason) Morefield of Great Falls; and his brother-in-law, Scott (Jackie) Jackson of Great Falls.
Memorial donations are suggested to a college scholarship fund for his children that is being established at Opportunity Bank of Choteau.