Randy Panek

Randy Panek.

Montana bridge builder Randy Panek, 61, passed away Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in the presence of his wife, Carlotta, at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, Mont., after a brave battle with lung cancer. Randy was born July 30, 1960, in St. Cloud, Minn., one of 11 children. He grew up to become a construction worker, a trade which took him all over the US, building bridges and wind towers. In fact, he met Carlotta while building a bridge on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho.

After they married in 1999, she joined him in the work and the travel it required. They settled in Plains in 2003, a perfect choice for retirement, since Randy had been a part of the construction teams on both bridges into and out of nearby Paradise. He also helped build the bridge over the Kootenai River in Libby, Mont., and the bridges and highway in Sula, Mont.

Randy loved to fish on the Clark Fork, Flathead, and Kootenai rivers, and on Lake Koocanusa. He was such an avid fisherman... always generous with his catch... that locals called him “the Fish Man.”

Randy is survived by his wife of 22 years, Carlotta Panek, who resides at the family residence in Plains; children: Luke and Nathan, and Nicole, all of Minnesota; two step-children: Nelson Kauffman of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, and Jessica Glindeman of Moscow, Idaho; six brothers; three sisters; and his mother, Mary Panek, of Minnesota. He leaves behind 3 grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

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