After a long and wonderful life, Birdena O. Monaco passed away at her home at Bear Creek Respite in Bozeman on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010.
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Birdena was born in 1916 to Charles and Margaret (Smith) O'Melia in St. Johnsville, N.Y. As an infant, she moved with her parents and brother to a farm in Vermont. Later, the family located to Schenectady, N.Y., where Birdena graduated from high school before completing the secretarial course at the Mildred Elly Business College in Albany, N.Y.
Her first employment was at the Schenectady Union Star newspaper, where she met her future husband, Angelo Monaco. After their marriage in 1941, nepotism rules forced her to seek other employment despite her enjoyment of newspaper work. She then worked at the Schenectady Varnish Company and for the American Locomotive Company, a defense contractor during World War II.
Following the war, Birdena moved with her husband and only son, Paul, to Albany where she began work at the Niagara Mohawk Power Company. She worked there for nearly half a century, making many good friends and enjoying her employment. She was widowed in 1959.
In 1991, she retired from Niagara Mohawk and moved to Bozeman. Here, she made many good friends and acquaintances. She volunteered at the Museum of the Rockies, Montana PBS and RSVP. For many years, she was a member of the Paper Dolls Book Club, which also allowed her to publish a story in a volume with other book club members.
She flourished in retirement, traveling, reading, and enjoying the company of her friends. She was outgoing and talkative, always enjoying the company of others. Birdena was proud of her Irish ancestry and visited Ireland twice. She also collected an extensive array of small boxes made of various materials from all corners of the world.
Birdena had a keen intellect and a sharp wit. In another place and time, she might have been a writer or poet. She was extremely gentle, gracious and generous and displayed a great deal of care for others. For all of her life, she was that rare combination of tough-minded and tender-hearted.
Survivors include her son, Paul and daughter-in-law, Victoria O'Donnell of Gallatin Gateway; brother and sister-in-law, John and Marilyn Monaco of Gainesville, Fla.; sister-in-law, Julia Gabriele of Schenectady, N.Y.; many nieces, nephews and cousins residing in New York and Florida; and two step-grandsons and their wives and a step-great-granddaughter living in Texas.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Birdena's life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Emerson Cultural Center Weaver Room.
Earlier this year, Birdena had made substantial contributions to the Senior Pets for Seniors program, and memorials in her name may be made to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 11390, Bozeman, MT 59719.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11, 2010