I was lucky enough (and old enough) to actually have enrolled in K. Ross Toole's "Montana and the West" history classes at the University of Montana. They were dynamic. During his final year of teaching, 1,700 students enrolled in the classes, held in one of the largest lecture halls at the UM campus. A few years later, the nonprofit media group MQTV recorded 20 half-hour lectures with maps, graphs and photographs to go along with Toole's engaging speaking style. The series was released in 1985 and has recently gone online at the University of Montana.

Toole wrote a number of books, including "Montana: An Uncommon Land." Another great historian, Harry Fritz, said Toole's lectures often brought out "themes of extractive development and corporate domination." And K. Ross didn't shy away from his strong opinions, which were backed up with detailed research. K. Ross was born in Missoula in 1920 and was director of the Montana Historical Society from 1951 to 1958, according to a news release from UM. He was the A.B. Hammond Professor of Western History at the campus from 1965 to 1981, when he died of cancer. The news release included a comment from his son, Ken Toole Jr, "K. Ross Toole's unique ability to provide historical context to the issues we face has been sorely missed. Our whole family is very pleased the Mansfield Library has arranged to make this video series available to the public."