Annabelle Lee Nesbit Anderson passed away Monday morning, May 7, 2012 at Highgate Senior Living in Billings, Mont. Annabelle was born April 7, 1927, the only child of Millard Francis Nesbit and Emma Dunham Lee Nesbit. Annabelle's father named her after Edgar Allan Poe's poem of the same name. Annabelle's parents met at Columbia University in New York in the engineering library in 1918. They were married in 1923.
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Annabelle's childhood was spent in Mexico, where her father worked as a civil mining engineer for American Smelting and Refining Company for 22 years. Annabelle's grade school education was at home in Mexico. In the first grade, she befriended Hortensia "ChaCha" Horcasitas Torres and Martha Mahoney Arana. These three women maintained their friendship for more than 80 years. She enrolled in the Loretto Academy, a Catholic boarding school in El Paso, Texas from 1941-1945.
After the war, the family moved to Livingston, Mont. to reside at the Trail Creek Ranch purchased in the 1930s by her father, who was a Livingston native. Her father, Millard was the son of Sam Nesbit, who homesteaded in Park County in 1885. Millard's brothers Sidney Nesbit and Wendell Nesbit were also long time residents of Park County.
Annabelle attended Montana State College from 1945-1947, then transferred to the University of Montana from 1947-1949, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. Her first elementary teaching job was in Chinook, Mont. during the infamous winter of 1949-50, when the temperature dropped to 50 degrees below zero. Annabelle moved to Big Timber and taught music there for three years. Annabelle met Lee Marshall Anderson in Big Timber, where he worked as a lineman for the Montana Power Company. Annabelle and Lee were married on July 19, 1953 at St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman.
Lee and Annabelle moved to Trail Creek to assist her mother "Virginia" in running the ranch after the death of her father Millard just 10 days prior to their marriage. Lee built a house at the ranch, and they resided there until 1958. Their son Ken was born in 1954, followed by Bob in 1955, Karen in 1956, and Carol in 1957. After leasing the ranch to the O'Hair family in 1958, Annabelle and Lee moved to Bozeman and then built a home next to Lee's parents, Norman and Anna Anderson, on Rocky Creek. Lee was tragically killed in a train crossing accident near their home in 1961. Annabelle continued to live on Rocky Creek until 2009, her home for more than 50 years.
Annabelle returned to teaching in 1966. She taught third grade at Longfellow School in Bozeman until 1979, retiring early due to a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. Annabelle was very proud to be a member of many civic organizations, including Delta Kappa Gamma, Big Sky Retired Teachers, Gallatin Empire Garden Club, Extension Club, Park County Pioneer Society, and the Episcopal Women's Guild. She joined the Daughters of the American Revolution-Hyalite Chapter in 1963, serving as both Chapter and State Chairman and Chapter Regent. Annabelle was also instrumental in helping to start a support group for people with rheumatoid arthritis with the help of her longtime physician, Dr. Saari. She also volunteered for RSVP, the Gallatin Pioneer Museum, and the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce log cabin for tourists.
Annabelle was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman, and loved to share that she was one of the longest continuous members in the congregation. She sang in the choir, served on the Guild and Help committees, and her children served as acolytes. She had many deeply cherished friends in this church, including her dear friend, Margaret Mackin.
After the death of her husband, Annabelle enjoyed traveling with her children during the summer months. When school let out, she loaded up the kids and the travel trailer pulled with her station wagon and headed out to various locales throughout the United States and Mexico.
In her retirement years, Annabelle was a busy world traveler, visiting many countries, including England, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Panama, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. She traveled with friend Anita Brawner and the Bozeman Senior Center group on several occasions. Annabelle loved her pets, always having several cats and a dog at home. She enjoyed her weekly water exercise classes and gardening. In 2011, Annabelle was very pleased to be chosen as a co-Grand Marshall of the Livingston Round-up Parade.
Annabelle moved into a new home in Bozeman in November 2009 due to ill health, and shortly afterward to Highgate Senior Living in Bozeman in April 2010. She moved to Billings to be near her daughters in September 2011, and resided at The Cottages at Highgate, where she received excellent care until her death.
Annabelle was preceded in death by her husband, Lee; parents, Millard and Emma "Virginia" Nesbit; her in-laws, Norman and Anna Anderson; and brother-in-law, Norman Anderson.
Annabelle is survived by her four children and their spouses, Kenneth (Ann) Anderson of John's Creek, Ga., Robert (Valerie) Anderson of Trail Creek, Karen Howe (Clint West) of Park City, and Carol (Charles) Bokum of Billings; grandchildren, Ginnie (Aaron) Abarbanell MD of Indianapolis, Ind., Kimberly (Clovie) Dschaak of Kalispell, Ann Coble of Wake Forest, N.C., Zachary Coble of Bozeman, Michal (Scott) McNeill of Mint Hill, N.C., Whitney (John) Boroski of Athens, Ga., Lee (Jill) Anderson of Lawrenceville, Ga., Sarah Howe, RN of Billings; and great-grandchildren, Ezekiel and Gabriel McNeill, Sydney Kohn, Emma and Caroline Boroski, Luke Anderson, and Noah and Esther Abarbanell; sister-in-law, Patricia Anderson and nephew, Lindsay Anderson of Mercer Island, Wash., and numerous cousins.
The family would like to thank the caring staff at Highgate in Bozeman and Billings, as well as Hali, Sonja, and others at Rocky Mountain Hospice in Billings. A special thank you to Lisa for visiting Mother and bringing your boys. You gave her much joy.
Funeral services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman on Tuesday, May 15 at 2 p.m. Burial will take place at Sunset Hills Cemetery with a reception following at First Presbyterian Church. Visitation hours will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. Memorials can be sent to the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter or St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman. Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 9, 2012