John Douglas Opalka, 80

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Dr. John Douglas Opalka was born Jan. 14, 1938, to William and Anna Opalka in Columbia Falls.

He passed from this mortal coil on Dec. 21, 2018, at the age of 80 years old in Polson.

He was preceded in death by his parents William and Anna Opalka, and brother Bruce Opalka.

He is survived by his wife Lyn Opalka, son Matt (Tamara) and daughter Jay Vasconcellos (Steven), sister Diane Neuleib (Lyle), brother William (Donna), sister-in-law Ellen Opalka, mother of his children Hazel Reeh, nieces and nephews Margie and Jonoh Chatwood, Suzanne Shinski, Beverly and Scott Opalka, Mary and James Opalka, and grandchildren Alex and Chloe Opalka and Spencer Schneider, and Gia & Sophia Vasconcellos, and his faithful dog Jill.

He attended school and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 1955. That same year he joined the U.S. Navy where he qualified for pilot training at 18 years old and served as a photographer’s mate aboard the carrier USS Shangri La. After leaving the Navy he worked between the Flathead Valley and California for several years.

In 1962 he began studies at the University of Montana in Missoula and continuing through to graduation as a doctor of veterinary medicine in 1968 from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

From 1968 to 1970 he worked in a large animal veterinary practice in Alberta before returning to Missoula to practice, and then opened his own clinic in 1972. Over the years he owned veterinary practices in Montana and Arizona, worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a federal meat inspector in California and Utah, and he was elected to and served on the Arizona State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

In 2003 John and Lyn returned to Polson to enjoy the natural beauty and peacefulness of the area.

His hobbies consisted of hunting and fishing across Montana, flying small airplanes, and driving and racing Porsche cars.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Mission Valley Animal Shelter, 36251 N. Reservoir Road, Polson, MT 59860, Phone no. (406)883-5312 in memory of John Opalka.

Rosary and funeral Mass will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, at St. Richard’s in Columbia Falls, followed by a luncheon and interment. Columbia Mortuary in Columbia Falls is caring for the family.

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