Cover photo for Mark Joseph Pengelly's Obituary
Mark Joseph Pengelly Profile Photo
1958 Mark 2023

Mark Joseph Pengelly

March 18, 1958 — July 12, 2023

Mark Joseph Pengelly, 65, of Frenchtown, a friend, father, and lifelong Montanan, passed on July 12, 2023, following a battle with a grizzly bear—well … natural causes--we know what a storyteller he was! Mark was born March 18, 1958, to William Leslie and Mary (Derleth) Pengelly in Missoula, MT.

Raised by a teacher and a wildlife biology professor, Mark refused to let schooling interfere with his education and was determined to become a cowboy—when he wasn’t skiing. He even practiced roping his sisters and all their belongings as a kid. From a young age, it was obvious that he would be too independent to wrangle. Much like his father, he was a true lover of nature. As a youngster, Mark spent many hours exploring the hills of Mount Sentinel, both to enjoy the serenity and to evade oversight. He spent most of his adult life traversing the most beautiful backcountry of the Rocky Mountains.

Mark was an avid horseman, hunter, and guide. He was employed by ranchers Lloyd and Rowena Jones of Idaho and British Columbia, Smoke and Thelma Elser of Missoula, and Tag and Sandra Rittel of Wolf Creek. He served as the lead animal packer at the Ninemile Remount Depot, where he enjoyed a career of more than 25 years leading a mule string for the United States Forest Service. After enduring countless injuries from kicking mules and double knee replacements for his notoriously bowed legs, Mark’s many-times-injured body finally yelled loudly enough to warrant attention, and he reluctantly retired in 2018. He remains respected by his colleagues for his hard work and commitment to caring for the pack animals at Ninemile.

Mark and his former wife, Debra (Rockwood) Pengelly, raised five daughters together. He was known for lending an ear and expressing his deep compassion, usually under a cloud of gruff, even curmudgeonly rhetoric. His generous nature extended beyond his family circle to his friends, neighbors, and community. Be it knot tying, carpentry tricks, mechanical work, or anything related to mule packing, Mark loved to share his knowledge with others.

In his leisure time, Mark relished the simple pleasures of life. Sunny days meant cruising in the yellow jeep to visit his daughter’s resting place, casting a line at a clandestine spot, or reminiscing with old pals, but you could usually find him comfortably kicked back in his recliner, with an adoring dog by his side, reading one of a hundred western novels from his library.

We will all remember Mark’s infectious laughter, his toothless grin, and the sly look he’d give when his tall tales grew ever taller.

Mark is survived by his daughter, Jesse (RJ Matthews) Pengelly of Billings, MT; three step-daughters: Aaron Bruffey of Alberton, MT; Afton (Jeremy Bristol) Bruffey of Lewistown, MT; and Danni (Adam Argyelen) Bruffey of Bozeman, MT; four sisters: Mary Lou Pengelly of Bethesda, MD; Anne (Dave) Webb of Spokane, WA; Laure Pengelly (Richard) Drake of Missoula, MT; and Kim Pengelly of Portland, OR; as well many other relatives and his faithful dog, Tag. Mark enjoyed numerous warm relationships and is survived and cherished by many loving and loyal friends.

Mark was preceded in death by his parents, Leslie and Mary Pengelly; his older brother, David Leslie Pengelly; and his daughter, Callie Jo Pengelly.

Memorial services for Mark J. Pengelly will be held Saturday, September 9, at 2:00 pm at Grand Menard Picnic Area (1 mile north of the Ninemile Remount Depot & Historic Ranger Station) with a potluck reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Backcountry Horseman, Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation or Frenchtown Little League. Cloyd Funeral Home & Cremation Service is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences for the family may be left at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mark Joseph Pengelly, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

Grand Menard Picnic Area

20325 Remount Road, Huson, MT 59846

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