Ada Grace Marchwick, age 80, passed away peacefully at Helena, Mont. on Dec. 26, 2008. After living with asthma since childhood, death came a month after Grace became a nursing home resident due to recent age-related health complications.
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The daughter of Jessie M. (Wilkinson) and Earnest L. Neikirk, Grace was born July 3, 1928 in Williston, N.D., grew up in Northeast Montana at Homestead and Bainville, and graduated as salutatorian of her 1946 high school class. Independent from an early age, she and a girlfriend traveled by themselves by train to Portland the summer before her senior year to have a summer working adventure. After high school Grace completed one year of college at the University in Missoula, returning home due to her father's failing health. Striking out on her own again, she lived in an apartment in Culbertson while working as an operator for Bell Telephone Company. Here she met Donald E. "Curley" Marchwick; they married in Culbertson on Nov. 6, 1948.
Curley and Grace embarked upon a vagabond life, moving across Montana and back again, building an active family of five children over eleven years, with each one born in a different city. When the fourth child reached school age, the family settled in Wolf Point in 1962 where they spent the next 16 years. In the early Wolf Point years Grace was again employed by Bell Telephone until the need for local operators was phased out. She also worked a few years for Montgomery Ward Company.
With the kids grown and gone, wanderlust again took over. Over the past 20 years, Grace moved with Curley around Montana to Bozeman, Great Falls, Lincoln, East Helena, Clancy, and back to East Helena. Several winters were spent in Arizona until failing health made travel difficult for Grace.
Always artistic and creative, although self-deprecating regarding her talents, Grace was the first to enroll in art or crafts classes in whatever city she found herself. She enjoyed painting in water colors, calligraphy, ceramics, floral arranging, etc., and her homes were filled with her own creations. She was an excellent seamstress from the time she was a teenager. She loved gardening and interior decorating, always improvising around Curley's latest unfinished home improvement project. On their 50th wedding anniversary she was busy remodeling yet another kitchen excited about laying tile herself for the new counter tops. In her later years, as health deterioration slowed her down, Grace became a devotee of television's food and home shopping channels. She also mastered the internet and e-mail so she could easily keep track of her kids and their families. Her lifelong passion was animals, she never said no to her family's latest pet suggestions. Suffering through her allergies, she became Mom to tropical fish, lizards, raccoons, cats and especially dogs too numerous to count. At Mom's house you always knew you had to compete with the dogs for room to sit on the couch!
Grace is survived by her husband of 60 years, Curley of East Helena; and her five children, Terry (Vivienne) of Mission Viejo, Calif., Tom (Donna) of Belgrade, Toni of Roseburg, Ore., Teresa (Scott) Neubauer of Wolf Point and Tamara Moe of Bozeman. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Honoring Grace's request, no local memorial services will be held.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2008