Remembering Peter Votapka

 LIBBY - A friend to everyone, people he knew and those he never met, Peter Frank "Pete" Votapka was born 10 weeks prematurely in Spokane on Feb. 17, 1988. Before he was 2 years old, he had a multitude of surgeries, but he was a fighter for a better life throughout his short time.

He was willing to help at home or with friends, whether it was clearing brush or fixing a problem computer. He had many answers on how to solve the problems of the world and put those into action, not just ideas or words. Pete volunteered at food drives, raising money for the band and other projects.

He drowned on Thursday, July 28, 2011, in the Kootenai River, giving his life to save another's.

Pete had a soft and generous heart for those less fortunate and fought to correct injustices done to any. Faces lit up whenever he entered a room. He lived life to the fullest and had little patience for those who talked but did not act.

He was known for his wicked sense of humor and careful observation. On a trip to Washington, D.C., with his parents at age 8, he noticed homeless people sleeping on the building heat grates. He quipped, "Who are these people anyway? Did they used to be congressmen?"

Pete was an Eagle Scout with a Silver Palm and a Bronze Palm. As an Eagle Scout, he was selected to give the annual report to the governor. He was also elected into the Order of the Arrow. He helped with younger people in Scouts for many campouts and activities.

Music was a passion of Pete's. He played the trumpet throughout middle and high school and especially enjoyed Pep Band, even playing with the Loggers when he came home for college breaks. He was selected for the 2005 National Jamboree Band, where he got to shake President George W. Bush's hand. He played in the Montana Tech Pep Band in college for two years.

His love of music and information technology led him to the KMSM Radio station at Tech, where he had a regular weekly DJ show and converted the radio station to online streaming for listeners around the world to enjoy. He was a troubleshooter for the staff and an important part of their fundraising. Pete enjoyed being a chef at many of his friends' gatherings.

Cyber security was another passion. He competed in the National Cyber Defense competition as a member of Montana Tech's team in which they placed seventh in the nation, beating major universities. Pete graduated from Montana Tech in May with dual degrees: a Bachelor of Science in network technology (cyber security) with a minor in medical informatics, and an associate of applied science in web development and administration. Pete was ready to make his mark on the world!
Pete is survived by his mother Jenny, father Frank and brother Ryan of Libby; his maternal grandmother Elva Blaz of Anaconda; and paternal grandmother Betty Votapka of Oceanside, Calif. His grandfathers Bill Blaz and Carl Votapka preceded him in death.

He is also survived by his very special Kammi McClain, several aunts and uncles, and cousins from both sides of his family as well as so many people he helped and his friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Peter Votapka Automation System Fund, KMSM Radio, 1300 W. Park, Butte, MT 59701; Boy Scouts of America Melita Island Camp Committee, c/o Chris Roberts, 1534 Tamarack St., Missoula, MT 59802; or the Shriners Hospital for Children.
Arrangements are by Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home in Libby.

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