Michael “Mike” Conaway

Michael “Mike” Conaway, 76, of Billings, Montana, unexpectedly passed away on July 18, in a traffic accident.

Mike was born on Dec. 20, 1946, in Great Falls, Montana, and later adopted by Clifton “Cliff” and June Conaway of Billings, Montana. After Mike graduated from Billings Senior High in 1965, he went on to study history at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

After earning his diploma, Mike entered service with the United States Marine Corps, where he was trained as a journalist and photographer. Mike was honorably discharged from the USMC for medical issues before active deployment in 1971. After his service, he became a freelance photographer in the Toronto, Canada, area.

In the mid-70s, Mike returned to Billings to complete a master’s degree in special education from Eastern Montana College. It is during this time that Mike joined his father’s business venture, and the two operated a camouflage manufacturing business. 

Mike went on to work as a special education teacher and school principal in Wyoming until his retirement in 2014.

Championing the underdog was a way of life for Mike. As an educator, he was most at home with the students the system would have rather cast aside. Mike was an involved member of the recovery community, and his guidance helped pull many from the clutches of addiction over more than 30 years. Mike was an advocate with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) group, standing up for abused and neglected children.

Mike was an avid photographer, voracious reader, and an aficionado of music. He was always up for an adventure and put many thousands of miles on his vehicles traveling the backroads of Montana, Wyoming and the American West to find unique vistas, wildlife and buildings for his photographs. His journeys took him abroad to Kenya, Cuba and Costa Rica.

Later in life, Mike discovered his tribal heritage and enrolled as a member of the Gros Ventre tribe. Connecting with his roots was an ever-increasing part of his life that included enrolling in language classes at the Aaniiih Nakoda College in Harlem, Montana.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Cliff and June.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Lynn; his former spouse, Cathy and their children: son, Sean (April); and daughters, Adeline, Charlotte, Emerson and Nora; daughter, Meghan, and Meghan’s son, Noah; and stepdaughter, Beth, (Jay McFarland) and her daughter, Claire.

A public remembrance will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 2931 Colton Blvd., Billings, Montana.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to an organization or cause that supports education.