George Alex Baumann was born in Rapid City, SD, on Dec. 14, 1957. On Aug. 26, 2014, George went missing. He was searching for firewood near Ambrose Saddle in the Sapphire Mountains south of Missoula, Mont., when he disappeared. On Aug. 27, soon after hearing of George’s disappearance, George’s friend Albert reported him missing to the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Department. George’s body was found on Sept. 13 by Radar and his handler, Dave, from True North Search and Rescue.
George lived in Rapid City, SD, until age five when his family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. His father worked for Brezina Construction and his mother raised the four children and multiple foster children, especially Billy and Alice. At age 10 his parents divorced and his mother and siblings moved back to South Dakota. They attended a year of school in Kadoka, then moved to Wall in 1971 where his mother married Jerry Willuweit.
The family moved to a ranch outside of Creighton, SD. George attended Big White country school taught by Jerry’s mother, Nell. He adapted well to this major life change. George then attended school in Wall, worked on his stepfather’s ranch and rodeoed with friends.
Before his senior year, he returned to Salt Lake to be near his dad, who owned Baumann Construction. George learned how to do many things like paving and waterproofing.
George married Diana Hansen in 1979 and they had two children, Luke and Elyse. After his divorce in 1990, he married Sharon Hodapp and moved to Denver, CO, where they had a son, James. George had been living on a small farm, owned by his father George Everett Baumann and stepmother Joann Kregowsky, outside of Stevensville, Mont., since suffering a head injury in 2006. George was able to do odd jobs like taking orchard apples to a local food bank, gardening, and mowing. He always helped his neighbors with horse-sitting or other projects.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Emma L. Madill, father, George E. Baumann, a baby brother, Richard John, a stepbrother, Greg Baumann, and James’ mother Sharon, who recently died of cancer.
George was 56 at the time of his death.
He is survived by his sons, Luke and James; daughter, Ely; his grandchildren, Luke’s daughter, Ava, and Ely’s children, Jade and Ry-Jin; his brother and sister-in-law, Dale and Penny Baumann; his sisters, Dorothy Keller and Cindy Bourne, along with her husband Verlyn Bourne; his stepmother, Joan Kregowski; his nephew and nieces, Derek Keller, Sarah Belliston, and Dayna Bisbee, and their families.
He had literally dozens of family and friends praying he would be found and those prayers were answered. He will be missed by his family and the many friends he had in Montana, his very close friends Mick, Shenna, and Albert and their families, and Patty and her husband.
We will be forever grateful to the Ravalli Sheriff’s Department and especially Under Sheriff Steve Holton, whose investigation into George’s death continues, and to True North Search and Rescue Unit, a nonprofit group who has worked diligently this summer to return the lost to their families. We would also like to thank Amanda, whose close relationship with George was very instrumental in inspiring and directing the search and ultimately finding George and returning him to his friends and family.
There will be a memorial for George in the Spring of 2015 in South Dakota. Details will be available at a later date.
George loved animals, but especially dogs, so it was tenderly ironic that the dogs of True North were responsible for bringing him home. In lieu of flowers, we would appreciate any memorial to be sent to this nonprofit at:
True North Search and Rescue, 4775 N. Montana Ave., Helena MT 59602.