Berniece Cecilia Dutro, 90, a longtime Conrad resident, died peacefully of natural causes at the Pondera Medical Center extended care on Saturday, July 11, 2009.
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Visitation will be Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by rosary and a memorial vigil at 6:30 p.m. at Pondera Funeral Home in Conrad. Mass of Resurrection will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Michael's Catholic Church, with burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Berniece Dutro was born Nov. 21, 1918, in Sleepy Eye, Minn., to Elanor and Nick Paulus. She was born during the great flu epidemic of 1918. She was a lifelong Montanan. She loved her beautiful Big Sky Country. She spent her childhood on the family homestead on the Greenfield bench and TL Gap near Fairfield and attended country school there until she entered high school in 1932. During high school, she lived with her aunt and uncle, Ted and Emma Paulus, in Choteau. She played basketball and played the saxophone in the high school band. Her principal was noted author, AB Guthrie.
In 1936, she entered the Great Falls Commercial College. Upon completion of school she was hired by Erroll Galt, the president of the Great Falls 1st National Bank, as a bookkeeper and worked there for four years.
Berniece met the love of her life, Vaughn Dutro in Great Falls. They were married for 67 wonderful years. They were married on Dec 30, 1940, and were able to celebrate their 50th and 60th anniversaries with family and friends.
They moved to Conrad in 1940 where her husband worked at the newly established John Deere and Caterpillar dealership. Her husband went on to be the owner of Conrad Implement for more than 65 years. Berniece was very proud and supportive of her husband in all of his community and business endeavors. She enjoyed many trips in the U.S. and abroad with Vaughn with his involvement with John Deere and the Hardware Implement and National Associations.
She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. In addition to being a homemaker, she served many years as an election judge, Girl Scout leader, and volunteered countless hours at St. Mary's hospital auxiliary and St. Michael's Catholic guild. She was a lifelong member of the St. Michael's Catholic Church.
She loved to play bridge, and would drop everything to get in one more game. She was especially fond of her "Birthday Club" friends.
Berniece was an excellent cook and homemaker. She was known for her delicious homemade apple pies and jellies. She received many blue ribbons for her delphiniums at the Marias Fair.
She loved spending time with Vaughn at their cabin near Spotted Bear behind Hungry Horse Dam. She enjoyed camping, fishing, golfing, snowmobiling and RVing with Vaughn, family and friends.
Berniece was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Vaughn; her parents, Elanor and Nick Paulus; her only brother, Donald Paulus in World War II at the age of 18; brother-in-law, George Dutro; and her cousin, Willard Paulus.
Survivors include her children: daughters, Margaret Ann Lee of Florence, Jeanne Ritchie (David) of El Cajon, Calif., Terry Dutro of Bozeman, and a son, Don (Mary) of Great Falls; a cousin, Fr. Alfred Schmidt of Milwaukee, Wis.; sister-in-law, Aina Dutro of Kalispell; nephews, David Dutro of Tucson, Ariz., and Kalispell, and Dan Dutro of Sunnyvale, Calif.; niece, Debbie Prendergast of Arlington Heights, Ill.
Grandchildren include Jack Lee (Jennie) of Klamath Falls, Ore.; Vickie Vaughan Lopes of Concord, Calif.; Katie Missik (Brian) of Conrad; Tricia Stokes (Joel) of Valier; Michael Lee (Kendra) of Great Falls; Stephanie Hansen (Eric) of Thornton, Colo.; Heather Thurston (Steve) of San Diego, Calif.; Nick (Noel) Knobel, Brian Knobel and Meghan Knobel, all of Bozeman; Hannah and Sarah Vaughan Dutro, both of Great Falls; and 13 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Michael's Catholic Church, Conrad Dollars for Scholars, or a fund for a hydrotherapy unit at PMC.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from July 15 to July 16, 2009