Great Falls icon "Piano Pat" has passed away

RIP, Piano Pat
"Piano Pat" performing in October 2014
"Piano Pat" Spoonheim
"Piano Pat" Spoonheim; photo by Kerri Anderson
Posted at 9:27 PM, May 05, 2021

GREAT FALLS — Pat Spoonheim - the iconic woman known for decades as "Piano Pat" who sat behind the keyboard and belted out favorites at the Sip 'N Dip Lounge at the O'Haire Motor Inn in downtown Great Falls - has passed away.

The O'Haire Motor Inn shared the news on Facebook: "It is with tremendously sad hearts that we tell you that our beloved Piano Pat passed away peacefully last night. We loved her very, very much. Our hearts are broken. Rest In Peace beautiful music girl."

Pat began performing at the Sip 'N Dip in 1963, and was loved and cheered on for decades by locals and tourists at the unique tiki-themed lounge; she was known worldwide, being featured in scores of newspaper articles, television and news features, and travel videos.

The website Punch noted last year: "Covering everything from classics from the songbook of Frank Sinatra to crowd favorites like 'Sweet Caroline' and 'I Love This Bar,' Pat plays and sings with the kind of self-possessed confidence only a nightclub veteran can pull off."

Pat was one of the reasons that the Sip 'N Dip was named by GQ magazine as the "#1 bar on earth worth flying for" in 2003, coupled with the near-equally iconic mermaids behind the bar.

Piano Pat: Montana Legend

Piano Pat: Montana Legend

(AUGUST 25, 2020) A lot of people know "Piano Pat" the performer, who has entertained crowds at the world famous Sip ’N Dip Lounge in Great Falls for more than 50 years.

“She’s passionate about music, it is her life,” said her granddaughter Kerri Anderson. “And I think that’s what has kept her going for at least the last few decades.”

But when she steps away from the keyboards, she’s Pat Spoonheim - the devoted family woman. At 85 years old, she’s a mother of three, grandmother to five, and expecting her fourth great-grandchild in October.

“She's worked her whole life, several jobs and she’s raised three kids,” Anderson said. “She helped us grandkids and always kept us in school with clothes and shoes. And she has always given to other people.”

Pat, who hasn’t performed since the pandemic temporarily closed the Sip N’ Dip in March, has brought joy to thousands of people from all over the world throughout the years. But now she’s the one that could use a lift to her spirits.

Earlier this month, she suffered a scary fall in her home. She slipped and hit her head on her piano and broke her hip after a fall. "They got her to the ER and discovered that she had had some bleeding on her brain,” Anderson said. "Luckily when the test came back the head injury was not nearly as bad as they feared. So then they decided to go ahead with the hip surgery. She had to get about a 10-inch pin put in and they were concerned about her making it through surgery. And fortunately she came through with flying colors.”

Pat is currently in the Benefis West rehabilitation facility, where her spirits are high. “She said that it wasn't her time yet,” Anderson recalled. “The good Lord wasn't done with her yet. So she's a tough lady and she's just amazing.”

Spoonheim has a long road to recovery ahead. So at the request of her extended family, Anderson has created a GoFundMe account to help offset the cost of the medical help Pat will need to heal.

“I thought this would be a good way for us to be able to give back to her,” Anderson said. “She’s never saved for a retirement or for her future as far as assisted living or anything like that. So her savings is going to be quickly depleted with medical bills.”

And so far the response has been massive, raising more than $5,000 toward a $25,000 goal in less than 24 hours - an outpouring fitting of the larger-than-life local legend. “When I went to visit her, I said, ‘I want you to know that there are so many people they're thinking of you and praying for you and they are wishing you well,'” Anderson said.

Due to her injuries and the ongoing pandemic, Spoonheim’s family isn’t sure if or when Pat will ever return to performing - but she’s always blazed her own path, so never say never. “She's still got a lot of determination and pep that she's ready to get back on her feet,” Anderson said. “So we're all praying for her and hoping that she's going to be able to do that and eventually get back home, which is what she wants.”

If you would like to help, click here to visit the GoFundMe page.