Barbara "Bobbe" Bell Balsam

Obituary
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The evening of March 31, my wife left me to prepare for our future life together. We were surrounded by family, and we will miss her tremendously.

Bobbe was a cherished wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. She lived a happy and full life with her family always at its center. Bobbe was preceded in death by her parents and her son, Chuck. She is survived by her loving husband, Fred, her sons, Scott (Debbie) of Seattle, Wash.; Wref (Jerri) of Missoula, Mont.; Mike (Sharon) of Tacoma, Wash.; and daughter Shellie of Bellingham, Wash. She is also survived by six grandchildren (Toby, Jessica, Nick, Trevor, Joe, and Katlyn) and two great-grandchildren (Carly and Alexis).

Born in Bozeman on December 7, 1928, the daughter of Charles and Letha Bell, Bobbe loved living in Montana. Her most enjoyable memories from her high school years were her many life-long friends, from which emerged the famous "Dizzy Dozen."

At the age of 15, Bobbe drove to Billings to visit one of her many friends, and there she met Fred. It was the beginning of a relationship that lasted 67 years. On August 9 of this year, they would have celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Bobbe enjoyed traveling and opening her home for friends. She had a passion for cooking and entertaining – her dinner-parties were legendary. She loved to play bridge, ski, square dance, and raft; she volunteered for years as Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout troop leader; and she managed the concession stand at innumerable Little League baseball games for years. Bobbe was an exceptional seamstress, producing Frostline coats and sleeping bags for everyone in her family and making sure each child and grandchild had a beautiful personalized Christmas stocking.

After raising their five children, Bobbe and Fred bought a motor home and toured Canada, Mexico, and all but two states. Along the way, Bobbe grew most attached to the beaches in Washington and Oregon, where she and Fred walked miles of shoreline to collect sand dollars, seashells, and rocks.

We especially want to thank the wonderful people at West Park Village and Riverstone Hospice who so eased her pain and brightened her days over the last year.

A memorial service is not planned, but the family will host a celebration of Bobbe's life at a future date to be announced. Michelotti-Sawyers is in charge of arrangements, and remembrances may be shared with the family at www.michelottisawyers.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 3, 2011
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