It is an honor to present Estelle Tafoya, PhD. the Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Development
Starting college at age 16, Estelle Tafoya graduated from what is now Montana State
University-Billings with a degree in education in 1956. She went on to deliver quality science instruction to students at the elementary, middle school, and university levels throughout her teaching career.
While living in Alaska, Estelle was an assistant superintendent for the Yukon Flats School District northeast of Fairbanks, where she oversaw the building of four high schools inside the Arctic Circle. After a decade of this demanding work, Estelle moved to Red Lodge with her husband, Earl Bennett “Andy” Andersen (Andy passed away in 2015). Estelle intended to retire, but she continued to teach science educators at MSU-B and helped establish a
presence for MSU-B in Red Lodge.
There was much more to come. During her years in Red Lodge, Estelle contributed inspired
leadership and hard work to organizations and initiatives throughout the community. She used her grant-writing savvy to secure funding totaling millions of dollars. Her tireless efforts benefited the Peaks to Plains Museum, Arts Guild-Depot Gallery, what is now the
Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, the Boys and Girls Club, the Rotary Club (she was the Red Lodge club’s first woman president), and area parks and trails. She was key to the restoration of the Labor Temple, restoration of historic lighting on Broadway, and state designation of the historic downtown.
Estelle was a founding member and served as the first chairperson of the Red Lodge Area
Economic Development Corporation, and she participated in development of the first Red Lodge Land Use Master Plan. She was named to the state Economic Development Advisory Council by then-Governor Brian Schweitzer. Estelle was named Red Lodge Citizen of the Year in 1998, and she was named an MSU-B Distinguished Alumnus in 2008.
Perhaps most relevant to the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation family, Estelle became involved with the Beartooth Front Community Forum in 1994 and within a single month brought structure, proper procedure, and grant expertise to BFCF. It was she who
recommended that BFCF form a community foundation, leading ultimately to the Fun Run for Charities and the founding of the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, which
continues to foster initiatives and launch them to independence.
With profound gratitude, Red Lodge Area Community Foundation presents Estelle Tafoya with our Lifetime Achievement Award for Community Development.