Henry 'Hank' Murray Dater III

July 20, 1938 – April 24, 2020

Life was never boring with Hank. He was smart, quick witted and slow moving. He was exceedingly tolerant and generous and then belligerent and stubborn. Hank was well-educated and sophisticated but loved to shock people who didn’t expect such impassioned language from an older gentleman. He was an optimist who struggled with the demons of depression. He was always up for adventure. He was charming and mischievous with a great smile and an infectious chuckle. He was an enthusiastic conversationalist and an equally good listener. He loved sharing a fine meal surrounded by friends and family. He didn’t look tough, but he was, as evidenced by the huge list of bizarre injuries and illnesses that he walked away from. He loved to push the envelope and was supremely confident in his own immortality.

Henry Dater was unleashed upon the world July 20 1938 in Kent Ohio, but claimed Washington, D.C. as his hometown. He moved there in kindergarten at the end of World War II. He attended Sidwell Friends in D.C., which is a Quaker school best known for educating the children of Presidents. He attended Yale University and graduated in 1960 with a degree in mathematics.

At times, Henry’s early life reads like a time capsule of American history with him unknowingly drifting into significant moments. He was hired out of college in the exciting new field of computer programming and worked on the famous IBM Stretch Super Computer. One day while walking on the Washington Mall, he joined the crowd to watch Martin Luther King deliver his “I Have a Dream Speech.” He saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. After he left IBM, he began working at the highest levels of the Robert Kennedy Presidential campaign. After finding himself unexpectedly unemployed, he got a government contract to create the first computer database for the BIA fee allotments and land ownership. This took him West. He loved his work on the reservation and decided to make Montana his new home. He never lost his dapper Washingtonian look with his khaki pants, button-up shirts, suspenders and loafers.

In 1994, he married JoAnne Beringer and became a step-dad to her three sons: Joe, Pete and James Bolenbaugh and remained a devoted father to step-sons Seth Blades and Brett Sweeney. JoAnne and Henry loved to travel, participated in local politics and were an active part of the Billings Committee on Foreign Relations. They enjoyed cooking and eating good food and supporting local restaurants.

Henry was loved and admired by his five step sons. He always appreciated young people and wanted to hear their opinions and listen to their problems. He welcomed their friends into their house and around their dinner table. In many ways, he was a big kid himself and always wanted to be in the middle of the action. He wanted his sons to see the world and be excited by all that it held. He relished being a part of his step-sons’ lives after they grew up and liked to consult on their businesses and support all of their endeavors. He was so excited when he got to become a grandpa and loved the energy of having young kids in his life again.

Henry was a political junkie. He proudly worked for the Kefauver Presidential campaign early in his life and still had his hand painted stencil sign. He passionately supported democratic campaigns nationally and locally. His long-time friend Jim Canan referred to him as a Fascist Liberal. Regardless of whether you wanted him to or not, Henry always expressed his opinion. He loved art, his Volkswagen bus, fresh flowers, jars of great jam, real maple syrup, house plants and the ocean. He loved the small details that made life worth living.

Henry had been in poor health over the last ten years. We can’t count how many times he flirted with death only to make a miraculous recovery. While we knew this time was likely the end, when he finally passed, it didn’t seem possible. We all expected that somehow he’d wake up and order breakfast.

He is survived by his wife JoAnne Beringer, his brother Tony (Ruth) Dater, nieces Jill and nephew Jay (Christina), five step sons: Seth (Sarah) Blades, Brett Sweeney, Joe Bolenbaugh (Tony DeFrank), Peter Bolenbaugh (Rebecca Noell) James Bolenbaugh (Lizzie Horan), four grandchildren: Edie Noell, Everett Noell, Kyrie Blades and Ashlyn Blades. Services will be held at a later date.

Donations in Henry’s memory can be made to Wise Wonders Science & Discovery Museum or to the Democratic candidate of your choice.