Ann Gray (1920 - 2009)

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Portrait by Deirdre Eitel

Ann Gray, 89, passed away at Roundup Memorial Hospital on Friday, Aug. 7, 2009. Ann was born Anna Christensen at the ranch on Carter Creek near Dillon on July 19, 1920, the middle child of Danish emigrants, Nels and Maren Christensen.

At a very young age she was inflicted with polio which influenced the rest of her life. The three siblings were boarded and lived alone in Dillon while attending schools there. Her brother, Art, blackened many an eye when kids made fun of Ann's limp.

Ann came to Montana State College, where she earned a degree in home economics. To earn money for school she cleaned and cooked for her board and room. In the summers she worked at the Gallatin Gateway Inn and at the Van Cleve dude ranch near Melville. Ann's first teaching job was at Hot Springs, where she started a community canning service.

On Sept. 19, 1943, she married Marshall Gray at Hope Lutheran Church where they had met. They moved to Seattle where Marshall was stationed in the Navy. While in Seattle, Jerry was born. At the war's end the family moved back to Montana and started a sawmill at Seeley Lake, and during the bitterly cold winter of '49 their daughter, Marsha, was born.

The early years in the logging camp prompted the bear and other stories that many of you have heard. She was instrumental in getting the Seeley Swan High School built, though she wasn't on the Missoula County High School board, she saw to it that Marshall was. Life was good. In 1965 the sawmill burned, and after an attempted rebuild they moved to Canada where Marshall built sawmills with Ann's support, consequently a number of new stories.

In 1984 they returned to Bozeman where they built their own home and Ann's flower gardens at Reese Creek. They were active in Springhill Presbyterian Church and Habitat for Humanity. Ann's last four years were totally consumed with the care of Marshall. Ann passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.

Ann is preceded in death by her parents; and her husband, Marshall Gray.

Survivors include her brother, Art Christensen, and her sister, Helen Brown, both of Dillon; son, Jerry (Margaret) Gray of Bozeman and grandchildren, Eileen, John, Kathryn, Daniel, and Bonnie; daughter, Marsha (Jack) Jensen of Winnett and grandchildren, Stephanie, Jackie, Kim and Heidi (Shaun) Lesnick of Roundup; along with many wonderful nieces and nephews and their children.

The family wishes to thank Cheryl Christensen for her support and medical advice, Frances Batchelder, Larry and Gerry Hawkins, Terri Kelly, Harry Armstrong, and other members of the Springhill Church.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, at Springhill Presbyterian Church, 9855 Walker Road, with a reception to follow in the church hall.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Aug. 14 to Aug. 15, 2009
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