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MICHAEL TRUMAN GREELY
Born: February 28, 1940
Mike Greely, the longest serving state Attorney General in Montana history, was born in Great Falls, Montana, son of Laura Lee Hough Greely and Myril Jay Greely. He prepared for Yale at Great Falls High School.
Mike was a resident of Branford College, where he was on the class council for 3 years and on the basketball and golf teams. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi, chairman of the Junior Prom Committee and earned his numerals on the freshman golf team. He coordinated the annual Branford Bike and Beer race our senior year.
Mike was a history major. He and Sam Back roomed together for 4 years. Sam and Mike met in 1957 in Montreal when traveling to the American Field Service program in Europe. While at Yale they also worked together one summer in Great Falls and Rudyard, Montana doing heavy construction in the hot sun building grain elevators and storage banks which Sam fondly recalled.
After Yale Mike taught high school for 1 year in Oklahoma and then returned to Montana, his heart and thoughts remaining firmly rooted in Montana.
Mike served in the U.S. Army Reserve 1963-1969 and attended University of Montana Law School, obtaining his J.D. degree in 1967. He practiced law in Great Falls where he met and married his wife Marilyn also a Montana native.
In 1969 Mike began his long and illustrious career in public service when he was appointed Assistant Attorney General and then became Cascade County Deputy Attorney. While residing in Great Falls, Mike was elected to the State House of Representatives and as member of the Montana State Senate.
In 1976 Mike was elected Attorney General of Montana, and reelected in 1980 and 1984, his record span. He was chosen as President of the National Association of Attorneys General 1983-1984, a member of the Executive Committee and chairman of the Western Conference of Attorneys General. As Mike noted in his biography for our 50th Reunion Book, "These were great times that went by too fast... . I argued 4 cases before the United States Supreme Court and traveled to Japan, Israel, Russia, China and Taiwan."
After his terms as attorney general ended, Mike ran unsuccessfully for Governor and the Montana Supreme Court. He then left public life and "settled down to a quiet, solo practice of law in Helena until retirement in 2008."
Mike directed his attention to his family which was, he wrote in his 50th Reunion essay, "the most important part of my life."
Mike is survived by Marilyn, his son Winston, his daughters Morgen Greely Heckford and Anna Lee Greely, his daughter-in-law Lorelle Berkeley, son-in-law Damian Heckford, two grandchildren Adelade and Keaton Heckford, his sister Nancy Greely Souder and many nieces and nephews.
Mike and Marilyn purchased a cabin on the Missouri River in 1989. It was there that the family would gather for Holidays and celebrations. It was there Mike enjoyed his passion for fly-fishing and the tranquility of the Missouri River. "As I cast my dry fly on the surface of the Missouri beckoning the wily trout, I am thankful for the plethora of the joys of life" Mike wrote in his essay in 2012. And it was there in his cabin that Mike died unexpectedly on January 26, 2017, while on a solo fishing vacation.
Sam Back fondly remembers Mike "as a stand-up, stand-out guy. Wherever he was - classroom, fraternity, athletic field - he was a presence."
As befitting his distinguished service to his home state, his Memorial Service was held in the Supreme Court Chambers in the State Capitol building in Helena. Speakers at the service included Hon. Mike Cooney (Lieutenant Governor of Montana), a long-time fishing partner, and old friends.
At the service a poem Mike had written in 2008 was distributed which captured his love of family.
"My goal in life was to be a success
The family suggested that memorial contributions in Mike's memory be made to Missouri River Watershed Alliance of Wolf Creek, Montana.