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Wain Alexander Lefthand, 65

| February 22, 2024 12:00 AM

Wain Alexander Lefthand was born to Alexander Lefthand and Josephine (Caye) Lefthand on Nov. 3, 1958, in Hot Springs. He was the last living child of nine. Wain passed away peacefully at his home in Elmo on Feb. 18, 2024.

Once Wain’s brother Pat returned from the military, his brother moved him in with his family. Pat raised Wain with his sons, Oskie and Josh. Wain lived in the mountains and in Libby, Elmo and Hot Springs with his brother. While living in Hot Springs, Wain became best friends with Ned Winebrenner.

Wain attended school in Elmo, Hot Springs and Polson. However, he later moved to Oklahoma and graduated from Riverside High School. Wain had a strong admiration for his brother Pat and attended Northern Montana College to become a diesel mechanic. While Pat served in the Air Force, he was employed as a diesel mechanic.

Wain also studied at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, taking any classes he could. He then found himself enrolled at the University of Montana studying archaeology.

As his nephew Oskie said, “Wain was like a Swiss Army knife when it came to identifying his job title.” In his younger years, he worked as a sawyer, tree thinner, and did post and pole. Wain moved to Akutan, Alaska, for about two to three years and worked on fishing boats and plants.

He also worked as a firefighter for MIFF and at the Sylvanite Ranger Station in Troy. Wain utilized his knowledge in archaeology and worked for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Preservation Department for 20-plus years.

Wain was very knowledgeable about the Kootenai culture and traditions and strongly believed in the Kootenai ways. He enjoyed gathering huckleberries. He often camped with Pat, Naida, Oskie, Josh, Edna and Wes. They would move their camp to different locations on their way home from Buckhorn such as the Yaak, West Fisher and Deer Creek.

He also served as an active member of the Kootenai Culture Committee and would provide his input on the different topics discussed. Wain was an individual who taught many things and was willing to share stories to those who were willing to listen.

Wain and his wife, Cheryl Mathias, became an item shortly after Wain returned from Alaska. These two had known each other for many years through his brother, Pat, and her sister, Naida. Wain and Cheryl legally married about five years ago on June 6. They have five sons, Lionel Mathias, Jesse BigBeaver, Issaiah Mathias, Drey Tenas, and Zachary Mathias.

Wain was an individual with a big heart and very family oriented. He cared for Josh and Oskie while their parents were at work. He was very supportive of the Elmo youth and would attend their different extra-curricular activities. Sonny Burke said he remembers Wain attending his games to cheer him on and give him that encouragement.

Wain leaves behind his wife, Cheryl Mathias, sons Lionel Mathias (Lavern), Jesse BigBeaver, Issaiah Mathias and Zack Mathias, and numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, family and friends.

Wain was preceded in death by his parents, Alexander and Josephine (Caye) Lefthand; brothers Joseph Squeque, Patrick Lefthand and Kenneth Lefthand; sisters Susie Antiste, Edna Lefthand, Marie Lefthand, Patricia Hewankorn and Josephine Lefthand; son Drey Tenas and nephew Ryan Lefthand.

The wake began Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, at 4 p.m. Rosary was Monday evening at 8 p.m., and funeral service was Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m., all at Elmo Hall. The burial will be at Dayton Cemetery. Messages of condolences may be shared with the family online at www.lakefuneralhomeandcremation.com.

Arrangements are under the care of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.