Memoir is a tribute to man who put Makoshika on the map

Hunter Herbaugh
Sunday, May 24, 2020
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A local author is giving locals an inside view into his life along side one of Glendive’s most prolific residents in his recently released book. Greg Hagenston, a local insurance agent, has officially released his memoirs, “Greg and Doc: Two Souls Surrounded by Badlands,” in which he chronicles the time he spent as the protege of Dr. Robert “Doc” Hiatt, the local optometrist that became well known for his work in getting Makoshika recognized as a state park.

The story of the book is in chronological order, starting in 1953 and going up to 1977. It follows Hiatt and his work and life in the park, Hagenston growing up in Glendive and their intertwining lives in the Badlands. According to Hagenston, even though he plays a large roll in the story, the book is really a tribute to Hiatt and his work.

“I want people to appreciate him and what he can do,” Hagenston said. “If this stuff isn’t recorded, it’ll be lost.”

Hagenston added that he mainly wrote the story for the people of Eastern Montana, but knows that there are people elsewhere that will also enjoy the escapades of Hiatt and his young sidekick.

Hiatt spent decades, exploring the future park, cataloguing everything that could be found within. He introduced the wonders of the area to many people, including an 11-year-old Hagenston. He kept meticulous notes, all in chronological order, that contained everything he had learned and studied and these notes were the primary source for Hagenston’s novel. Following Hiatt’s passing in 2013, his notes were kept by his daughter, Betty Payton, who currently lives in Missoula.

Hagenston said he had to make two trips to Missoula to retrieve all of the journals. As he studied Hiatt’s notes and journals and did general research about Makoshika for his memoirs, Hagenston says he learned quite a bit he didn’t know before. Eventually, Hagenston was able to compile enough information for one book but noted he has much more information to go through.

“It got to the point where there was enough for a book so we stopped. There is eventually going to be a part two,” Hagenston said.

Payton, meanwhile, has been thankful to see such a thoughtful tribute to her father put together by one of the people that knew him best. Even though Hagenston considers it a tribute to Hiatt, Payton sees it as a tribute to both of them.

“I’m so gratified that Greg is dedicated to telling the story about he and Dad and Makoshika. It’s a beautiful chronology and a wonderful tribute to both men,” Payton stated.

In the end, the character Hagenston and Payton are truly trying to tribute is Makoshika itself. The place where friendships were formed and memories were made that continues to be a large part of the lives of everyone in the community. They both hope that by highlighting the people involved with shaping of the park and the work they did, people will remember just how important Makoshika is to everyone around it.

“Living around Makoshika everyday, people tend to take it for granted,” Hagenston said.

“What I want people to take away is all of the people and contributions to the glory of Makoshika and all the effort it takes to put a park on the map,” Payton added.

Hagenston’s memoirs are being published by Outskirts Press, a Colorado-based self-publishing company, and is available now for download on Amazon Kindle. Hagenston added that he will have physical copies for sale soon at his insurance agency. However, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has created an at least two week delay in delivery. He has also said that he will be donating author’s copies of the book to select recipients, such as the Frontier Gateway Museum.

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