Kathryn Seely attends the Festival of Trees to see the tree dedicated to the memory of Montell Seely, her late husband. Kathryn is pictured by Montell's tree along with her granddaughter Kirsten Beagley.
A tree honors Montell Seely's memory
Emery County legend Montell Seely was honored by a special tree display at the recent Festival of the Trees held in Sandy. Seely lost his life in a vehicle/pedestrian accident in August of 2008. Seely is best known as the founder of the Castle Valley pageant. The tree was donated and decorated by the Evans family of Spanish Fork. The Evans family had attended the Castle Valley Pageant and become acquainted with Seely during this time.
The Festival of Trees is a benefit held each year as a fundraiser for Primary Children's Medical Center. The show was a veritable wonderland of hundreds of specialty-decorated trees, wreaths, centerpieces, quilts, gingerbread houses, playhouses, and live entertainment.
Of special interest to Emery County this year was the uniquely-decorated tree, dedicated to the memory of Montell Seely. The tree was festooned with 30 small 10-inch handmade, stuffed cowboy dolls, dressed in Levis, vests, boots, hats and neckerchiefs. There were small coils of lariat rope, barbed wire formed into star shapes, tiny horseshoes and branding irons with the "S" brand. The tree was topped with a cowboy hat.
Around the tree were six larger 35-inch versions of the handmade, stuffed cowboy dolls, dressed just like the little ones. The big dolls were shown in the positions of pulling and pushing a small handcart replica and riding a stuffed horse. One of the cowboys was standing beside an easel with a photo of Montell. Another of the dolls was seen warming their feet by a unique campfire.
The entire display was surrounded by a small pole fence, and it featured an antique photo frame with a photo of Montell and write-up about him, on an easel decked with bandana handkerchiefs.
The tree, complete with all the display items, was donated by Allen Evans, of Evans Excavating of Spanish Fork, and decorated by Stella Evans, also of Spanish Fork. This is Stella's third tree she has donated for the Festival, and she received her inspiration for this year's tree when Montell Seely died last year as a result of an auto crash in Fairview Canyon.
Stella said, "This is our way of remembering Montell and making sure that others remember him."
Stella Evans is a multi-talented crafts person. She began work on the cowboy dolls early in the year, making her own patterns in January 2009, and sewing and fashioning them through all the months, until the first week of December. Stella said her enthusiasm built as she would finish each doll, and as she added other items to her display. All that effort culminated in the show last week. The trees were sold at auction before the show opened to the public. The buyers name is unknown, but it is known that the tree and entire display will be enjoyed by a family with nine children.
All proceeds go to Primary Children's Medical Center to continue the work there of providing care for all children, regardless of the family's ability to pay.
The family of Montell Seely had the opportunity to attend the Festival of Trees in Sandy to see the tree dedicated to their husband, father and grandfather. The Seelys were very appreciative of the time and effort that went into the tree dedicated to Montell's memory.
The information on Montell's tree read: "In sweet memory of our friend and brother, Montell Seely, this tree is lovingly dedicated in his honor. Montell and his family have participated in more than 35 handcart treks. They did so to preserve their own pioneer heritage. Montell's greatest act of devotion was writing and producing the Castle Valley Pageant in 1978. He wrote the script by compiling pioneeer stories and re-writing them using dialogue. It was his dream that what they had started, would go on from generation to generation. On Aug. 12, 2008, Emery County lost one of its greatest pioneer historians. Montell was hit and killed in an accident in Fairview Canyon involving his handcart and a truck while he was doing what he loved best, taking a group on a trek.
"Montell was a friend to all. He never met a stranger or anyone that he did not like. The sparkle in his deep blue eyes was always there, revealing his great zest for life. He carried the true pioneer spirit with him every day that he was on earth and even into the eternities. We miss you Montell."