In Memory


Pete Formaz

Peter C. Formaz, age 73, of Oceanside, California and formally of Helena, Montana, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at the VA Hospital in San Diego, California due to complications from pneumonia and heart disease, despite extraordinary efforts to save his life.
Pete was born on February 7, 1942 to Conrad and Marjorie Formaz in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in the small town of Medina, Ohio and upon his graduation from high school in June of 1960, he joined the United States Marine Corps. He was extremely proud of his military service as a Marine, and held the rank of Gunnery Sergeant upon his honorable discharge in August of 1969. His service included his admirable position as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, S.C. and two grueling tours in Vietnam with Third Force Recon Company. After being discharged, Pete joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department where he worked for over ten years. During this time he met his first wife, Kathleen Moran, and they had three children together: Peter, Jennifer and Amy. Unfortunately during these years, Pete struggled with alcoholism but thankfully found sobriety in Sunset Beach, California in April of 1981.
Pete moved to Missoula, Montana during the summer of 1985, where he met the love of his life, Lorraine Behr, in an A.A. meeting at the K.C. Hall. They were married in July of 1986 and have had many awesome adventures together, up until the day he passed. One of these adventures was their move to Kodiak, Alaska in the fall of 1988. It was there that their beautiful daughter, Lauren, was born on November 7, 1990, in the midst of a huge storm with hurricane force winds. Never to turn down an adventure, Pete and Lorraine have lived in various places including Sandpoint, Idaho, the Flathead Indian Reservation in Polson, Montana, and Helena, Montana where they had resided for the past 21 years.
Pete proudly worked as a Licensed Addictions Counselor and helped many people to achieve sobriety. He earned his degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling in May of 2000 and he obtained his B.A. degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Great Falls in May of 2003. During his career as a Licensed Addictions Counselor, he earned numerous awards, held numerous state and national leadership positions, and advocated strongly for the rights of veterans struggling with PTSD and substance abuse issues.
In October of 2015, Pete and Lorraine relocated to Oceanside, California to be closer to their daughter, Lauren. They spent his last three months enjoying each other’s company overlooking the beach at the Oceanside Pier.
Pete was a sober member of A.A. for the past 34 years, and relished the opportunity to share his experience, strength, and hope with others. He enjoyed crafting Native American flutes and drumming with his Native American friends. He was an avid reader, highly intelligent, articulate, and afraid of NOTHING. He was our hero!
Pete is survived by his wife, Lorraine and daughter, Lauren of Oceanside, California as well as his three children from his previous marriage; son Peter and grandson Logan in Orange County, California; daughter Jennifer and her husband Alex and three grandchildren, Elliot, Oliver, and Isabel of Seattle, Washington; and daughter Amy and granddaughters Kalin and Benae, who reside in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also survived by his dearly beloved German shepherd companion dog, Lilli; French bulldog, Stella Bella; and Persian kitty, Athena.
Pete has many friends and family who will miss his dry sense of humor, his boldness, and his no-nonsense attitude, and he will always be remembered as a “cast iron marshmallow!” He truly was Lorraine and Lauren’s hero.
A community gathering in celebration of Pete’s life is tentatively being scheduled for Saturday, April 9th, 2016,  in Helena, Montana at a time and location yet to be decided. Plans for this gathering are still being finalized and will be announced in the IR and elsewhere at a future date.
Note: This is from Pete's wife, Lorraine.  Sadly, Pete passed away on Jan. 26 at the VA Hospital in San Diego from complications from pneumonia and heart disease.  I know he enjoyed communicating with his old classmates.  Please let them know about Pete's passing.  We had recently moved to Oceanside, CA to be closer to our daughter, Lauren, and he was able to spend three months living here near the ocean (the Oceanside Pier is one block away from our place) and near our beautiful daughter.  We will have a celebration of his life back in Helena, MT on April 9th at the Radisson Colonial Hotel from 5-8 pm so please spread the word.  If any of you want to share any memories of Pete, I would be so happy to receive them and read them aloud at his celebration on that night.  Thank you so much.
Lorraine Behr-Formaz

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02/16/16 02:38 PM #1    

Gary L Bolte

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A Tribute to my friend Pete Formaz

Someone once said: One of God’s greatest gifts is memories. They are photographs taken by the heart to make a moment in time last forever.

Pete and I first met as freshman at Highland High School. We were both in the band playing Trombones. We instantly bonded and built a lifetime of memories in just four years. I remember so vividly the fun we had at band practices, taking the band bus to and from football games, playing cards on the way and just goofing around. It was amazing how much we could laugh when there really wasn’t much to laugh about. I guess we were our own entertainment committee. Attending several classes with Pete, the fun continued, but not all our teachers appreciated us at times. I remember one time we were injecting some humor in Mr. Kahl’s class, along with the class clown Jerry Fox. Before long, Pete and I were walking down the hall towards the office to explain to Mr. Chaffee, our Principle, why we were excused from Sociology class that day. Mr. Kahl never did have much of a sense of humor.

During summer months, we would always find time for swimming and more fun. Pete loved guns and hunting as much as I did, so often, it was a year round activity. We probably walked enough miles hunting to have trekked across the country. A couple of stories Pete and I laughed about in later years was the time he and I (probably 15 years old) decided we wanted to smoke cigars. I can’t remember how we got them, but we did. Before long, we were sick, throwing up and probably turned green. I remember walking into the house and telling my Mom that Pete and I were sick, having caught the flu and couldn’t eat supper. Yeah right, she really believed that one. Our funniest story was  late into the hours one morning hunting for raccoons, and not having any luck. Coming home, we spied a pond with a rowboat in it. Yes, that was our game and we sent it to the bottom of the pond. It was about 3 am, so when the lights came on in the farmer’s house, obviously from hearing all the gun shots, we found out we could run really fast and laugh at the same time. Ok, it wasn’t nice, but, teenage boys and all that stuff.

After graduation in 1960, Pete immediately joined the Marines and left for boot camp. When he came home for leave in September, we went to a high school football game and that was the last I had seen him. I tried to find him when I got out of the Army in 1967, but was unable. I did find out he was still in the Marines and probably in Vietnam. Too bad we didn’t have the Internet back then. Then a number of years ago, our good friend Judy Pay Whyde found out Pete had heart surgery and gave me his address and phone number. I called Pete and both of us really enjoyed talking. Pete’s dry sense of humor never changed. I asked him why he had heart trouble, and with a chuckle he said, “too many cheese burgers and French-fried onion rings. That began years of conversations, via email, talking about everything from religion, politics, history, family, guns and our dissatisfaction with how the country was being run. It’s amazing how we agreed on almost everything, especially how our wives were our pillar of strength and direction. Moreover, we knew our kids and grand kids are worth more to us than all the gold in Fort Knox. Pete was especially proud of his daughter Lauren. He would tell me about her academic and athletic accomplishments in high school and then on to Pepperdine University, competing in swimming on a national level. How well I understand the pride and special relationship a Father has with his daughter.

Pete shared many of his experiences with me during his tours in Vietnam and how it took a toll on him, leading to an addiction of alcohol. But unlike so many veterans, he met the enemy of addiction head on and used it as a springboard to help others, becoming a Licensed Addiction Counselor, helping save and improve many lives over the years. Some of the counseling experiences he told me about were not only daunting, but downright scary. But if you knew Pete, you know he is not one to be frightened or back down from a challenge. In fact, I am sure he used the Marine method in the face of problems and challenges: fix bayonets and charge.

Pete you are one of the best friends I have ever had and one of the best men I have ever known. You lived by the traditional code: God, Country and Family and never lost your belief in them or yourself. I will miss our conversations, but as I think about your life, this passage in the Holy Scriptures comes to mind: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. So no goodbyes for now, just Semper Fi and I will see you on the other side.

Friends for Ever

Gary L. Bolte


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