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Ashley Willett And Chris Mehring Named As Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Service Award Recipients

The University of Montana Western will honor two outstanding community members, Ashley Willett and Chris Mehring, with the 2024 Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Service Award on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, for their extraordinary service to UMW and the Dillon Community.


The awards dinner and recognition ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Lewis and Clark Room in Mathews Hall on the UMW campus.



Dr. Jane Helm Maddock was a Professor of English at the University of Montana Western for 17 years and was recognized as Professor Emeritus of English upon her retirement by the Board of Regents of the Montana University System. During her time at UMW, she established the Helm Honors Scholarship and the Helm Memorial Scholarship in memory of her parents.


The service award is named in her honor and memory and presented to those who have performed extraordinary service to the campus and community.


Montana Western will also recognize four inspiring UMW students for their high levels of civic and volunteer engagement. Tanner Harrell will be recognized for the Montana Athletes in Service award, Gracie Stanton will be recognized for receiving the Newman Civic Fellowship Award, and Alexis Cannon and Ahna Fox will each receive the Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Student Service Award.


To purchase tickets to the Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Service Awards Dinner, please contact the Foundation and Alumni Office by calling 406-683-7306 by April 3, 2024. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for Montana Western students and include drinks, dinner, and dessert. 



Ashley K. Willett

Ashley Willett grew up on a ranch north of Dillon and graduated from Beaverhead County High School in 2004. She continued her education at the University of Montana Western on a golf scholarship. In addition to being a student-athlete, Ashley also worked for her uncle Casey Keltz at the Lion’s Den and embarked on a career at Edward Jones. In 2007, Ashley earned a BS in Business Administration. 


Following graduation, Ashley married Phil Willett and they have one daughter, Gabby. Although they briefly resided in Bozeman, Ashley and her family found themselves drawn back to Dillon. In 2014, Ashley transitioned into the field of health insurance and presently serves as the Benefits Producer at Mountainview Insurance. Ashley has become a pillar of the Dillon community, contributing her time, skills, and dedication to various community initiatives and organizations. Over the years, Ashley and her family have also served as a host family for Montana Western student-athletes. 


Ashley’s commitment to community engagement is evident through her active involvement in various organizations and initiatives. As a member of the Chapter AD PEO, she dedicated four years of service as president. Currently, she serves on the committees for the Festival of Trees and the UMW Booster Bash. Her passion for golf led her to join the Dillon Junior Golf Board and the Beaverhead Golf Course Ladies Association Board.


In addition to her roles in golf-related organizations, Ashley also contributes her time as a Dillon Junior Golf instructor, serves on the Beaverhead Chamber board, and continues to lend her support to Shine Studio. She was an active member of the Dillon Jaycee Auxiliary and served on the Southwest Montana Family Y Board.




When not working or volunteering, Ashley finds joy in spending quality time with her family and attending Gabby’s dance and sporting events. Ashley’s passion for Montana Western, and the Dillon community is what makes her a deserving candidate of the Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Service Award.


Christopher J. Mehring

Chris Mehring was born and spent much of his childhood in Butte, Montana. He attended Butte Central until his sophomore year of high school before transferring to Twin Bridges where he ultimately graduated. After graduation, Chris attended Western Montana College where he received a degree in Secondary Education Business and Physical Education in 1988. Chris settled in Dillon and embarked on a rewarding career with R.E. Miller & Sons. In 1988, Chris married the love of his life, Wendy. Together, they welcomed two children, Alyssa and Darrin, who became the joy of Chris’s life. However, being a grandpa to Parker, Paislee, and Payton was truly the highlight of his days.


Chris took great pride in being a resident of Beaverhead County and demonstrated his love for the community through volunteering. He dedicated his time to various sports activities, including coaching little league baseball and flag football. One of his favorite pastimes on Saturdays was serving as the ball boy for Montana Western Bulldog Football. Chris also played a significant role in nearly every sports field in Dillon. With the support of numerous friends, coworkers, and R.E. Miller & Sons, he spearheaded efforts to donate time, dirt and equipment for the construction and renovation of these fields. When the community raised funds for the updated Jaycee Park, Chris and many R.E. Miller employees pitched in. With the support of his company and friends, Chris was able to give back to Dillon in various ways. He took pride in every project and always ensured perfection. These efforts are just a fraction of the many ways he supported any program or person in need.



Chris’s commitment to the community never wavered. He served on the City of Dillon planning board and the Beaverhead Golf Course board. He was also recognized as Dillon Jaycee’s Outstanding Young Man of the Year. With his passion for sports, Chris umpired little league games, played city league softball, and basketball, participated in flag football, and was deeply involved in Dillon Beaver football and Cubs baseball. 


His impact was profound in so many ways and resonated deeply in the Dillon community. We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize his legacy and honored to present Chris and his family with the Dr. Jane Helm Maddock Service Award. 



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