Pat was a humble servant of God, a woman of faith and love. Pat was born in Havre, Montana and raised on the Highline in Rudyard, Montana. When Pat was in grade school, her mother drove her over 80 miles round-trip to take classical piano lessons in Havre from Ruth Locke who was a well-known classical pianist. Pat continued to take classical piano lessons until she was a teenager. At the age of 14, she started playing in a dance band on weekends in dance halls up and down the Highline from Shelby to Havre. She liked playing both classical and pop music. She could read any music and would listen to records and the radio to learn both classical and pop music of the day. In addition to the piano, Pat also played the trumpet in high school and was first chair trumpet. She was valedictorian of her senior class and graduated in 1952.
Pat married Donald Sponheim in 1953. They had three children and moved to Great Falls in 1961. They divorced in 1966. As a single mom, Pat raised her children while working two jobs. She worked as a medical transcriptionist for 38 years at the Great Falls Clinic, and simultaneously worked at the Sip N Dip Lounge for over 50 years as the widely recognized piano player known as “Piano Pat.” Her fans were worldwide. Piano Pat became an icon in the Great Falls community, but if asked, she would shrug off any claim to fame. She touched the lives of many through her musical talent and loving kindness. She will be greatly missed though we know she is surely in Heaven singing with the angels.
Besides her love for music, Pat cared deeply for her family and friends and showed it by her love and generosity. Pat was a caretaker to many including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Pat is survived by her children, Danny Sponheim, Danelle (Gary) Bell, and Diana Jo (Jim Clark) Sponheim; brother, Robert (Linda) Wehr; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Her parents, Clarence and Ruth Wehr, preceded her in death.
There will be a private, family-only graveside service. A celebration of life will be held for family and friends at the Sip N Dip Lounge at a future date and time. In remembrance of Pat’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Benefis Peace Hospice of Montana, or to her gofundme Funeral Fund.
We love you, Piano Pat!