In 1881, a 19-year-old Louis Shodair stepped off a stagecoach in Helena, a small mining community only two years older than him.
He arrived with his mother, widowed when Louis was 8, to care for her ill sister. Later the same year the Shodairs moved to Butte and started The Butte Candy Factory.
“Louis Shodair has a new and improved method of making ice cream, which he is serving to his many customers,” The Butte Miner trumpeted in 1886.
Despite his humble beginnings, in 1937 he generously gifted $200,000 to the community of Helena to build its first and only hospital devoted specifically to children. In today’s dollars, that would be around $3.9 million.
Of that total, only $40,000 was cash. The rest was a real-estate donation, which included a block on West Park Street in uptown Butte that carried his name. With his aid, Shodair Children’s Hospital was created, although the institution was founded in 1896 to take care of orphaned and abandoned children.