Austin Darkenwald was born on March 27, 1926, in Valley City, N.D. His family moved to Billings when he was a small boy. He was the youngest of four boys of Adele and George Darkenwald.
Austin married Peggy Berryman on Sept. 4, 1948. This September, they would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. Their marriage was a loving example to all about their commitment to one another. Peggy and Austin have three sons: Mark, Doug and Scott.
Austin served in the United States Air Force during WWII and came home and graduated from the University of Montana in 1950. He started his business career with Exxon upon graduation and rose through the ranks for seven years. But Montana called him home. Being the consummate entrepreneur that he was, he quit a secure and stable job and took the leap of faith to come and go into business for himself. He soon found himself starting a company called the Montana Petroleum Company, which evolved into a chain of convenience stores and truck stops operating in Montana, Wyoming and Eastern Washington. He had a universal reputation amongst his employees and peers as being an exemplary businessman known for being fair, honest and just being very good at his chosen vocation. He sold his company to Cenex in 1985.
Community service was very much a part of Austin. He was the president of the Billings Chamber of Commerce and served on the boards of the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Rocky Mountain College, First Interstate Bank, and as president of the Intermountain Oil Marketers Association.
Austin’s faith in Jesus Christ was fundamental to his life and who he was. He was in the same small group Bible study for over 40 years, and he and Peggy attended the King of Glory Lutheran Church. He was charitable in spirit and giving. He also enjoyed the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous for several years.
Upon retirement, he and Peggy moved to Big Fork and Arizona, and then came home to Mission Ridge here in Billings. The family wants to thank the staff at Mission Ridge for all their loving care and support. And to thank the doctors and nurses at the Billings Clinic for their incredible kindness and wisdom and care in Austin’s final hours, when his heart simply wore out after 90 years.
Austin and Peggy have six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, and a flock of nieces and nephews and extended family.
Austin will be missed by all he knew and all whose lives he touched. But he went in peace to be with his Lord and Savior, confident that he and Peggy will be together again.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 4125 Grand Ave.