BUTTE — Friends, colleagues, and family of the late Arthur “Art” Noonan chose the Carpenters Union Hall to talk about his life; An appropriate place for a man who spent a lifetime trying to help the common working person.
“Came from working stock here in Butte. He was always in favor of making sure that the workers and families were treated right, because the strength of our country is the middle class,” said longtime friend Evan Barrett.
Noonan, who served as a State Representative from 2005 to 2011, died from natural causes in his Butte home on Saturday at the age of 70.
“Well, I’m still in shock. When I first hear it I couldn’t even hardly say the words. I’m having a little problem with it even right now,” said Barrett.
As a staffer for former U.S. Representative Pat Williams, Noonan focused on preserving Montana’s national parks including standing up against drilling in Yellowstone Park.
“And I think about that every time I think of Yellowstone Park because there are folks all around who wanted to change the basic face of Montana in order to make a quick buck and Art stood, along with those he worked with and for, to make sure that kind of stuff wouldn’t happen,” said Barrett.
Former state legislator Pat Noonan said, “I wouldn’t have been a legislator if it wasn’t for Art Noonan’s influence. I wouldn’t have been as passionate for politics if it wasn’t for Art.”
Pat Noonan, who served briefly alongside his uncle, recalls Art Noonan had helped him when he was making a speech about raising the minimum wage.
“And I walked by him and I said, ‘Art, I’m trying to glue this speech together about minimum wage,’ and he said, ‘how about, these aren’t minimum people,’ and it was that statement then that then entire speech falls into place,” said Pat Noonan.
At the time of his death, Art was getting back into politics by running for State Representative this fall. Barrett saw a recent campaign poster Art designed.
“It was just a gigantic, black political button and on it, it said ‘give a damn.’ Well, Art Noonan gave a damn and he gave all of his life to make America better, making Montana better, making Butte better,” said Barrett.
The family is still making funeral arrangements as of Friday evening.