RONAN – Some may argue that years of cheering the Montana Grizzlies might be “old hat”.
But for two Montana families, an old hat is exactly what’s bringing them together in what they laughingly call “divine intervention”.
Reporter Kent Luetzen has the fascinating story of a mystery that began in the “lost and found.”
Susie Collins Hassel was determined to keep her dad Clint’s legacy alive after her father Clint passed away.
He was a huge Griz fan and had plenty of old baseball caps. What she and her family did with them was something small – but it’s turned into something they’ve never imagined.
After going through the “Lost and Found” after a summer basketball tournament in Bigfork, Steve Woll found what he says was a “pretty nice Griz hat.” And after an inspection, he found a little note tucked inside.
“I noticed there was two paperclips and a piece of paper. On that paper, it had a little drawn heart. Here we go, it’s probably a fifth grader’s love note. I said ‘I’m going to get a kick out of this’,” Woll told MTN News.
But to his surprise, it was much more than a love letter.
“To the finder of this hat, this hat is not lost. It belonged to my dad, Clint, who we lost this past November,” the note read. “He was born and raised in Bigfork and loved this town! In fact, he met my mom at the Bigfork Inn 58 years ago and the rest is history. He was a huge Montana Grizzly fan and had many Griz hats.”
The summer after Clint passed, Susie and her family took those hats and placed them around Bigfork as a tribute to their lost loved one. They wanted to continue Clint’s love for the Griz.
“I thought. we can’t just put the hat somewhere! People are going to wonder what this hat is doing here, so I decided to write a note,” Collins Hassel told MTN News. “I sat down and it took me a while to write – lots of tears of course – but ended up writing the note.”
It’s a note that continued on to say, “if you are a fan, keep the hat and wear it with pride.
The hat into the right hands since Woll is a huge Griz fan. But, the connection is so much larger than just an old hat — it’s what the families found out later that is more than just a coincidence.
Clint was born and raised in Bigfork – and so was Woll. Clint went on to teach P.E. and coach basketball – and so did Woll.
The two were Griz season ticket holders and big fans and Woll says their parallel lives go even deeper.
“My dad had a hat collection, too. When he passed away, we took hats and put them on his casket at the cemetery. There are a lot of similarities there, too.”
“So many amazing coincidences that I don’t think are coincidences – It was meant to be! Definitely, the right person that found the hat,” Collins Hassel said.
The two families have not met yet, but plan on getting together at the first home Griz football game of the year. Holl says he’ll be wearing “with pride” his new Griz hat.
Collins Hassell is asking anyone who finds another one of her dad’s hats to share a picture of it on Facebook with the hashtag #CLINTCOLLINS
Reporting by Kent Luetzen for MRN News