Waking the Dead

Event Date: 
Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Great Falls, Montana – Watch history come alive during the 12th Annual Waking the Dead tours at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., Sunday, June 26, 2022 at Highland Cemetery in Great Falls, Montana.

Sponsored by the Paris Gibson Month Celebration Committee, twelve graves will be visited as storytellers present the stories of those buried there.  The graves and their storytellers are: Paris & Valeria Gibson, Great Falls founder and his wife, Bruce Cusker; Vinegar Jones, Great Falls first builder and contractor, Ken Robison; Ed Shields, Great Northern Railroad conductor who brought the story of the dog Shep to world-wide fame, Bill Zins, great nephew; Ralph Jones, fell off the stack and died, Darren Smith; Capt. John E. Moran, recipient of Montana National Guard Medal of Honor, Dwight D. Smith, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.; Robert Vaughn, early Sun River Valley homesteader, Cory Larsen; Kenneth McIver, dairyman, Dirk Larsen; Edwin Norris, Montana Governor: Dirk Larsen; Josephine Trigg, Children’s Librarian, Great Falls Public Library, Paula Egan-Wright; Charlie Russell, western artist, Bill Bronson: William T. Haney, early Great Falls businessman, Austin Haney, great grandson.

Cars will park in the field inside the cemetery gate where the three trailers will be waiting to be loaded.  Because tour seating is limited, tickets need to be purchased in advance.  People should arrive 15 minutes early to keep tours on schedule.  At the conclusion of the tours, participants will receive a free booklet with photos and the featured grave stories provided by Croxford Funeral Home & Crematory.  DVDs of the tour by Max Murray of Murmax Productions will be available for a small fee. Copies are given each year to the archives of the History Museum and to the Great Falls Public Library.  Underwriting of the filming is provided by Montana Granite Industries.  Each of the featured graves are marked by a sign donated by Kelly’s Signs.

Guests will be greeted by Jay Russell and Mary Ann Cosgrove.  Trucks will be driven by Elliot Merja, Thomas Risberg and Ben Vandeventer.  Tour hosts will be Megan Sanford, Suzanne Waring and Norma Ashby Smith.  Flowers for the graves of Paris and Valeria Gibson and their two small children Paris, Jr. and Helen will be provided by Gayla and Tom Fundis of Great Falls Flower Growers.

The date of the tours is scheduled on the Sunday afternoon closest to the birthday of Great Falls Founder Paris Gibson which is July 1.  This year marks his 192nd birthday. 

Tour tickets are $15 to ride, $10 to walk and are available at Kaufmans Menswear, 411 Central Ave., Great Falls.

For further information contact Norma Ashby Smith, Tours Chairman, 406-590-6798, ashby7@charter.net.