Montana Says Goodbye to a Beloved Local Icon
On Wednesday, May 5th, we got the word that Montana's beloved Piano Pat of Great Falls had passed away at the age of 86, and we were heartbroken. Back in August we let you know that dear Pat had suffered a terrible fall at home and had been recovering in the hospital, but seemed to be doing well, despite a broken hip and some brain bleeding.
If you've never had the pleasure of singing and dancing along with Pat Sponheim and her keyboards, she made a name for herself at the Sip n' Dip motel lounge in Great Falls as their night entertainment, singer, and piano player. Pat started there in 1963 and has been featured on various national programs and news outlets, including a wonderful feature she did with 'CBS Sunday Morning' back in 2013, you can see that clip below, in full. She will certainly be remembered as the treasure of our Treasure State. Any time I hear "Sweet Caroline" I will think of Piano Pat.
As the news of her passing began to spread, businesses around Great Falls posted messages of love for Pat on their marquees and signage, and I saw one of the TV news stations reporting that the owner of the O'Haire Motor Inn, where the Sip n' Dip is located, was in such distress that she couldn't even manage an interview. Our hearts certainly go out to her, the entire staff there, and to the Sponheim family.
My favorite part of the national clip from 2013, seen below, is when Pat talks about having to take pictures with so many people each night at the bar, and wondering why in the heck anyone would want her photo. And if you really want to tear up, watch the Vimeo video that ends with Pat's rendition of "What a Wonderful World." She was such a gem, she will be missed, but never forgotten.