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Late Sen. Conrad Burns honored with highway in Billings, sign un - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Late Sen. Conrad Burns honored with highway in Billings, sign unveiled

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BILLINGS - The late U.S. Senator for Montana known for his boisterous personality who was no stranger to sparking controversy now has a stretch of highway named after him.

At times a firebrand, there has never been a doubt of Conrad Burns circle of friends.

More than 50 people attended the unveiling of the Conrad Burns Memorial Highway, a stretch of Highway 3 between the Billings airport and Main Street.

"It's taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people to get this through the legislature," Yellowstone County Commissioner Denis Pitman said.

Pitman spoke with Phyllis Burns, Conrad's wife, on how to best honor the man who has fingerprints peppered throughout the community and state.

Senate Bill 231 passed and signed by Gov. Steve Bullock in the 2017 Montana Legislature.

"It took a lot of work," Sen. Roger Webb affirmed of the bill. "It is important that we recognize individuals, and Conrad was one of those individuals."

Burns, one for insight, gave Webb some words of advice: "He said, 'People do stupid things, just don't spend a lot of time doing them.'"

Rep. Dale Mortensen said it was a great honor for "one of my best friends."

"This is a long time past due," Mayor Tom Hanel said. "That gentleman was just one example of all of us. He was a wonderful man."

"He did a tremendous amount of work for us. This honor is very deserving."

"It's a reminder that livestock was a big part of Conrad's life," said former MT Sen. Taylor Brown. "Before he was any of those things he became, he was a stockman."

A brand rock, which sat in the front yard of the Burns home, was also unveiled.

Complete with Conrad's livestock brand "-C-", the rock will sit outside the west entrance of the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

Phyllis Burns said it took her a long time to understand why Conrad never looked for credit for things he accomplish.

"It took me a long time to realize that just to get it done was enough for him, to help people," she said. "He said to me, 'The people I do it for, they know.'"

Phyllis Burns thanked the crowd for attending.

"I just am so thankful, I love you and I am so glad you're here to celebrate with me." 

The memorial highway sign will be erected within the next few days.

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