Northwest Montana Electrical Contractor - Kalispell Electric, Inc. 

   In Memory of Craig Chute
In July of 2008, Kalispell Electric lost one of our team, but more importantly, a good friend.
Craig Kenneth Chute, 63

Craig Kenneth Chute, 63, of Kalispell, passed away at his family home Monday, July 28, 2008. He was born Feb. 4, 1945, in Arlington, Va., the youngest of three children, to Kenneth and Virginia Chute.

With his father, Kenneth, working as an engineer in the U.S. Geological Survey, Craig and his family moved frequently between states, from New England to Florida. Although the Chute’s roots were in Harrison, Maine, Craig experienced new towns and new schools 25 times in his childhood years. He spent his last two years of high school in Arlington, but his heart was in “small town” Indiana with its warmth of community and enthusiasm for basketball.

Always industrious, Craig excelled as a student and athlete wherever he went. He delivered newspapers and mowed lawns as a boy, and later took summer employment in Maine, developing and maintaining campsites for his Uncle Glenn and logging pulp wood with his Uncle Hartley. He also earned money for college working for the Geological Survey in Tennessee, as well as the Forest Service in New Hampshire. He was recognized for his natural athletic abilities and good sportsmanship at every school he attended; his enjoyment of playing basketball followed him everywhere.

After graduating from high school in 1963, Craig headed west on the train to attend Colorado State University for a short time. Disappointed with the area and the size of the school, he bought an old 1948 Willy’s Jeep for $500 and ventured north to Montana. With his sights on going to the smoke-jumper’s school, he arrived in Missoula in mid-November, only to find that there weren’t many fires to worry about during the winter time in Montana. By happenstance, he discovered the university (then Montana State University) in its magnificent setting and made arrangements to return as a student the following year. Fall quarter 1964, Craig not only entered the “U” as a freshman, but was a walk-on for the Grizzly basketball program.

It was at the university that he met the girl that would later become his wife, Pamela Phillips, of Kalispell.

He had found the person to watch beautiful sunsets with, but with the draft, the 1960s were a tumultuous era for college students. After much thought, in the spring of 1966, Craig decided to leave college and sign up for a tour of duty with the Marine Corps. As his family’s first representative in the military in several generations, Craig went off to boot camp at Camp Pendleton. He received numerous platoon honors, went on to be trained in an artillery division and served in Vietnam. Stateside, and recovering at Bethesda, he was reassigned to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.

Craig and Pam were married in the First Presbyterian Church of Kalispell on Oct. 9, 1967. The return journey to North Carolina (honeymoon) was via the Trans-Canadian Highway to his grandparents’ farm in Maine and then south along the eastern seaboard to the Marine base.

After numerous training missions to the Carribbean and Mediterranean, Craig received an early honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in December 1968. Pam and Craig returned to live and work in Montana and to re-enter college, where Craig rekindled his love for literature.

His first civilian job after the military was finding employment at a small electrical wholesale company, Mountain West Electric. This was the beginning of the Craig that most people know. He truly enjoyed the challenges, as well as the folks that he came in contact with. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion and an all-consuming occupation. When the business sold, Craig was asked to open a branch in Kalispell, becoming the youngest manager in the company’s large system. Whether working as an electrician or managing an electrical wholesale branch, Craig was always generous with his time and knowledge, being a friend and problem-solver to all. The 24 years with Crescent Electric and his past seven years with Kalispell Electric brought him great pleasure. His quick wit and silly jokes will always be remembered. Of course, he never tired of frustrating his family with reminding them that his favorite day of the week was Monday.

With family and animals waiting for him at home along the Stillwater River, Craig carved out a Chute niche, building shelters, barns and fences for cattle, horses and hay. He constructed a cabin in 1973 from a 100-year-old barn that he dismantled at Skyline Dairy; later designing and building the house on the hill for his growing brood. He loved his pastoral surrounding, marveling at the geese overhead and the resident deer population, with new fawns appearing every spring. It all served as a soothing respite from the busy work schedule that he kept.

His three children and their personal accomplishments were the pride of his life. The hectic years of baseball, softball, soccer and football were fun and filled with traveling. Coaching PeeWee baseball and hauling loads of grinning kids to various sporting events was his idea of the perfect vacation. He has lovingly followed their young adult adventures with as much enthusiasm. Craig always said that one of his greatest rewards has been to see each one finish college and go on to a career.

Now with a new generation of babies in the family tree, Craig took loving pleasure in being a grandpa. Reading stories with grandchildren on his lap, having a cribbage contest with team Ethan-Caleb, coloring with Carter and Emma (Carter and grandpa’s favorite color is black), or working a puzzle with Carissa, was gentle fun for everyone.

One of his greatest pleasures, outside of work, was taking family road trips, seeking out alternate routes on less-traveled highways. He was a genius at many things, but unsurpassed was his innate knowledge and memory of places, people, and the U.S. road systems. The planning process was extensive, and the family’s rewards for his efforts were great. Most recently, Craig and Pam celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Maine and the Maritime provinces, finding lighthouses and covered bridges along the way.

Craig was a wonderfully complex man — a great friend to many and a lover of solitude, and a deep thinker who found joy in the simple pleasures of life. He loved literature, art, music and historical study, particularly of the Northwest and Native American culture. He was an honest and gracious person who will be missed by his family and all the friends he made along the way.

Craig was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Pam, at the family home in Kalispell; his brother, Philip Chute, of Eau Claire, Wis.; his brother, Clifton Chute, of Bristol, Ind.; his son, Ethan, and wife, Lisa Chute, of Otsego, Minn.; his daughter, Jessica Chute, of Kalispell; his son, Ira Chute, of San Francisco; and his four grandchildren, Caleb and Carissa Chute of Otsego, and Carter and Emma Chute of Kalispell.

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Kalispell Electric, Inc. 
P.O. Box 8823 - 205 South Complex Drive - Kalispell, Montana 59904
 Phone: (406) 257-8093 - Fax: (406) 257-3532

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