Damon Lynn Gannett


Damon Lynn Gannett


Damon Gannett

Damon Lynn Gannett, 72, beloved husband, father, grandfather and Griz fan, passed away peacefully on Oct. 2, 2019, after a herculean three-and-a-half-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Damon was surrounded by his wife of over 50 years, all living children and his sister when he calmly and graciously drew his last breath, leaving a void that will not soon be filled.

Damon was born to Will and Patricia Gannett in Amarillo, Texas, on April 29, 1947. As military brats, the Gannett family moved constantly. In the summer of 1961, the family moved to Missoula, where Will would serve as the Air Force ROTC Commander at the University of Montana. Damon would fondly recall when he learned of the new assignment, he immediately assumed he’d be “riding to school on a horse, picking arrows out of the saddle bag, and sleeping in an igloo.” Unbeknownst to him at the time, the state of Montana would become the cornerstone on which he would build a legacy of faith, family and public service.

Damon graduated from Missoula County High School in 1965 and continued his academic pursuit at the University of Montana, where he studied business. In the fall of his senior year, Damon changed the course of human history — at least in terms of population contribution — by asking an 18-year-old Billings-gal on a date. By August of 1969, Damon and Carol were married, which Damon would surely regard as his greatest achievement in life. Through 50-plus years of marriage, Damon and Carol conquered law school, an Air Force stint of their own, and created perhaps the greatest family (at least in this author’s opinion) to ever walk the earth.

And then there’s Jude. In 2014, this family endured great, great sorrow. From that sorrow, we found Jude. Jude, at age 5, was without his mother and in need of a home. Damon and Carol provided that home without hesitation. Five years later, Jude is thriving. The night before he passed, Damon was most animated when Jude arrived in the hospital room, hugging him tightly and scratching his back. From great sorrow came Great, Great Love. Damon’s leadership and quiet dignity will be sorely and profoundly missed by his family.

Damon was known for his artisan blend of intellect, wit, charm, humanity and grace. Giving a voice to the voiceless, Damon spent his professional career tirelessly advocating for the most disenfranchised among us: children. Stifling the chaos, Damon quietly guided his wife, six children and 11 grandchildren through the trials of their human experiences. Damon Gannett was an exceptional human being: he was honest, he was kind, and he put the needs of others before his own for the entirety of his time on earth.

Damon is preceded in death by his parents, Will Gannett and Patricia Taber; stepfather Dick Taber; and his daughter Jessica Gannett. Damon is survived by his loving wife, partner, and “Sweetie” Carol; daughters Amy Bergen and Lindsey (Nick) Bouchard; sons Tyler (Kari) Gannett, Tobin (Holly) Gannett and Tucker (Kristin) Gannett; and siblings Mark, Rebecca and Robin Gannett. Damon is also survived by 11 grandchildren, Lainey, Natalie, Lola, Stella, Auggie, Ella, Jude, Anna, Oren, Henry and Finn. These 11 young people will miss their “Grampy” dearly.

A celebration of Damon’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church at 2055 Woody Drive, Billings.

In lieu of flowers, please direct any financial contributions to CASA of Yellowstone County, the Family Tree Center, or any charity that might aid the Grizzlies in beating the Bobcats this November, because we all know he’ll be watching.

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32 thoughts on “Damon Lynn Gannett”


    I offer condolences to Damon’s wife and family. There aren’t better people in this world than Damon. I worked with him in the 1970’s when he was brand new to his profession. He was a delight to work with and I enjoyed watching him as he advocated for the children in need. RIP, Damon.

  2. Damon was a man of true character, devoted to his family and his clients. His fine skill and ability to bring calmness proved successful and surely helped more people than he will ever know. Demon left the world in a better place, he will be sadly missed. Tom Hanel

  3. Please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of your husband, Carol….. Prayers and thoughts are with you!!

  4. Damon was an SAE fraternity brother when I was in college. He was a brother that you could count on and look up to. He was a houseboy that taught us monkey houseboys how to behave. He was my favorite third baseman on the house fraternity softball team. His defensive crouch stopped all grounders headed his way. He was a leader by example. Later in life I renewed my friendship with Damon through another friend and my fraternity BIG BROTHER Wes Appelt. Both are a blessing in my life. I will miss Damon but know he is watching the Grizzlies with me at every game. Go Griz.

  5. My sincere condolences to the Gannett family. Remember seeing him when we had our adjoining offices at 720 N. 30th St. Damon and Tyler about 30 years ago came for a final look at my for sale BMW 535. Tyler mumbled some untoward remark about the deal — but Damon barked him down real fast! Made the sale. What an exemplary father! Memories.

  6. Damon was one of the best men I’ve ever known. I very much appreciated when he was the Guardian ad Litem for the kids on my caseload. I respected him, trusted him, and was thankful for his compassion, knowledge, and expertise. The first 31 years of my career will be remembered as “with Damon” and the time left in my career will be known as “missing Damon”.
    We did have annual disagreements, however, about the Cat Grizz games….

  7. My first encounter with Damon, was frustrating and tense. He was advocating for a child that could not speak for themselves in court. Over the years, I came to understand Damon’s dedication to his clients, children who had lost the only normal they had ever known through abuse or neglect. The world lost a tremendous shining light when Damon crossed to the other side. And finally, because he would expect no less from me; GO CATS.

  8. What a beautiful tribute. The loss of a wonderful human being is always sad, yet such a celebration that he was here on this earth. Thinking of family and friends during this loss. May your memories replace the tears. And….yes….Go Griz!
    Renee Bechtold (Kolstad)

  9. He was a great man. So solid, ethical and moral. I have great respect for him and am so sad to see his passing. What a loss for the community and for his family. I’ve known him professionally for 35 years. He left Billings a much better place.

  10. Damon was instrumental in what would become my career in Human Services. His wisdom, kindness and quiet leadership will always be remembered. God speed!

  11. I knew Damon professionally for many years. He always had a smile for others and often a funny quip to share. He was the epitome of what an attorney–and a decent human being–should be. I will always remember him.

  12. Anne & Warren Hill

    Our condolences to the Gannetts. We knew Damon from high school days, college days and life in general around Billings. Damon was everything his wonderfully written obituary states and more. His humor was always special but his care for our youth was his benchmark. He was a wonderful person, friend, father, grandfather, husband and community member. Damon will be missed by all.

  13. Peace and grace to you dear friend. You will never be forgotten. Your presence will be so missed. There is something seriously wrong with the planet with you gone.

    Carol, you may never understand the full impact Damon had on so many of us. However, you knew Damon the best and likely have a very clear idea of how many of us felt about him and what a gift he was to all that knew him.

  14. Damon will truly be missed! We are so sorry for your loss. Damon was the guardian ad litem for our boys. God put him in our lives at such a vulnerable time. Damon treated us with compassion, honesty, and true kindness that we had never seen from the child welfare system. We are so honored to have had Damon weaved intricately into our family story. My heart is heavy at the loss of this great man. Our community has a hole that will not quickly be filled. Thank you Carol for sharing this amazing man with so many vulnerable and hurting children. His service made such a difference in so many lives! Praying peace and comfort in this difficult time!

  15. Harold & Kathy Olson

    Our sincere condolences are offered to Mr. Gannet’s lovely family. What better legacy can one leave than to been an strong and steady and loving advocate for the most needy of children in our community, to be respected and admired by peers, friends, family, and the community and to have partnered in the raising of children who have grown to be respectful and respected by their peers and family.

    Kathy & Harold Olson

  16. Art Bergen-Henengouwen

    Sorry to hear about Damon passing away, our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
    Love and prayers, Art and Margaret.

  17. Damon was a wonderful Guardian ad Litem for the kids in care. He would remember their names, achievements, plans for school, interests, even though he probably had hundreds of kids he represented. I will always remember Damon’s kindness and genuine love for his work, as well as his ability to calmly fight for the children. He made a difference in this world. rest in peace, Damon

  18. I offer my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Gannett family. Damon was a friend, my son’s baseball coach and my lawyer. He always had a kind and witty word for me and always asked me how my son’s and I were doing. He genuinely cared. Damon helped me through the most difficult time in my life for which I am eternally grateful. Damon RIP.

    Bob Sandler

  19. I’m so sorry to hear of Damon’s passing. The world is a sadder place without him. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. mark andrew clarl

    Since I met you and Damon back in ’69, I have thought you a very special, admirable and inspirational couple who sacrificed much and deservedly succeeded — life well lived.

  21. When we are young we are all in a hurry to change the world, then we learn that the world isn’t changed by big, bold actions, but by the constant application of love, respect and justice in everything we do. To me, Damon epitomized that. I was privileged to know him when I worked with Child Protective Services, and have always had the greatest respect and admiration for him. While the world may be a sadder place today for his passing, it is so much a better place for his having been here.

  22. I have fond memories of Damon when he coached our girls softball team. My sincere condolences to Amy and entire Gannett family.

  23. Kathy Mann Bartlett

    Damon was one of the best! I met him at UM in 1965 & my roommate & I called him Gamon Dannett. My thoughts are with you, Carol, and your family. It was so good to visit with you both two years ago at another friend’s celebration of life. Go Griz!

  24. Charlie Cromwell

    I was so incredibly sad to hear of Damon’s passing. He was a mentor and friend — not only to me, but my wife Audrey and countless other young attorneys in this state. One of the absolute best. He will be forever missed.

  25. When I was in high school and college I worked cleaning Wells Fargo Tower and I cleaned Damon’s office for several years. He was always very kind and nice. We enjoyed talking politics. For me at a young age then he was a great mentor and someone to look up to. I ran into him years later a few times (once at the Paul Simon concert) and it was always nice to catch up. I am so sorry to hear about his passing and my prayers are with his family at this time.

  26. The Juvenile Law community lost a pioneer, mentor, colleague, and friend last week with the death of Damon L. Gannett, Esq. Our field of law owes Damon a great debt of gratitude. Damon was a pioneer of our work for children and families. Pioneers build a path for those who follow and make our journey possible. Damon did that, and he did it gracefully, and with humility and integrity.

    Damon Gannett practiced law in Billings, Montana from the 1970’s until recently. With an inherent passion for the welfare of children, Damon worked tirelessly and with a self-assembled team of lawyers, judges, probation officers, social workers, physicians, and lay advocates to, yes, pioneer, a collaborative multidisciplinary system of justice designed to produce the best available outcomes for the children it served.

    It is important to recall that both the juvenile justice and child welfare court systems, as we now know them, were largely undeveloped and highly ineffective coming out of the 1960s. The US Supreme Court had issued the Gault decision establishing due process rights, including the right to counsel for children in juvenile justice cases, just a few years prior. Likewise, the nation had not yet taken notice of the reality of child abuse and neglect in a meaningful way. Damon understood the challenge and opportunity this moment in our history presented and he went to work and never stopped working.

    Damon’s impact is felt in his community, the state of Montana, and the nation. In addition to his service to the state bar, where he served as President, and the American Bar Association (ABA), he served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). NACC would in the years to come establish Child Welfare Law as a formal ABA legal specialty and define the standard of child legal representation.

    Damon launched my career. Because of the opportunity Damon gave me, I became Executive Director of the NACC, a position that would define my career, where I served for 15 years, prior to founding the Juvenile Law Society. Damon hired me out of law school in 1985 and we would later become law partners with Gannett & Ventrell. Damon mentored me in the practice of law. It is true that mentorship included substantive issues of law, but that is not what resonates with me today as I say goodbye to Damon from afar. Damon was a man of decency and integrity, and he practiced law with decency and integrity. It never occurred to him to be otherwise.

    Goodbye Damon, thank you.

    Marvin Ventrell
    Executive Director
    The Juvenile Law Society

  27. Damon will by truly missed. He was my lawyer during a very difficult and vulnerable time. He guided me and helped me. He invested, cared, and I trusted and respected him. He had a very positive effect on my life, and I have never forgotten. He was a blessing to me, a rarity, and a man of character. I won’t forget you anytime soon. My condolences to the Gannetts.

  28. I read of Damon’s passing in this month’s Montana Lawyer. I am proud to have been a classmate and fried of Damon throughout law school. The state of Montana has lost a good lawyer and a good man.

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