Barbara Ann (Sheffels) Briant was born in Great Falls on June 10, 1933, to Henry and Elizabeth (Salo) Sheffels and grew up on a farm north of Great Falls with her brothers and sisters, John, Jim and Beth.
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At age 18 she attended Montana State College in Bozeman for one year, then transferred to The University of Montana and studied journalism, where she met Gene Croghan. They were married in 1953 and traveled while Gene served in the military. They then farmed near Floweree, and later moved to the family farm north of Great Falls where they raised their four children: Doug, Roger, Brenda and Colleen.
Barbara resumed her studies in 1963 at the College of Great Falls, where she received her B.A. degree. She later earned a master of arts in English from The University of Montana and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She began teaching creative writing and English literature part-time at the College of Great Falls in 1970. At the same time Barbara began a long writing career which included poetry, plays, short stories, novels and personal journals.
In 1973 Barbara and Gene divorced.
In 1975 she married Peter Briant and they divorced in 1976.
She continued teaching until 1979 at the College of Great Falls, where she was the editor of Scribe Magazine. In 1980 she moved to Missoula and devoted herself to her writing, publishing numerous short stories and poems in various literary publications. Missoula became her home for more than 17 years where she was actively involved in creative writing workshops.
Throughout her entire life, Barbara devoted herself to the well-being of others. In the 1960s she participated in a program providing assistance to the Native American community in Great Falls. Barbara was also known to support people of need in many ways, including the Rescue Mission in Great Falls. In Missoula, she taught English to the Hmong community and was a support to their integration.
Barbara also traveled extensively throughout the world, including South America, Europe, China and Russia. She converted to Catholicism in 1978 and remained a devout member of the Catholic Church.
Following a long illness she spent her last years in Bozeman, where she died on March 11, 2007, peacefully surrounded by her family. She will be remembered for her generosity, compassion and her love of life.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry Sheffels and Elizabeth Casbon; and her brother-in-law, Joe Wolff.
Barbara is survived by brothers, John Sheffels and Jim Sheffels, and sister, Beth Wolff, all of Great Falls. She is also survived by her children, Doug Croghan and spouse, Laurie of Bozeman, Roger Croghan of Moscow, Idaho, Brenda Croghan of Paris, France, and Colleen Nielsen and spouse, Lonnie of Prineville, Ore.; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the caring and devoted staff at Edgewood Vista in Belgrade for the special care they extended Barbara during her stay with them.
Viewing in Great Falls will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, March 16, followed by funeral services at 10 a.m. at Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Chapel with burial in Highland Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Rescue Mission of Great Falls, 326 Second Ave. S., Great Falls, MT 59405.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Mar. 14 to Mar. 15, 2007