Claudine Ida Eckes passed away after a lengthy illness at her home in Bozeman on Feb. 3, 2016. She was born Jan. 25, 1934, at the farm home of her parents, Leo and Ida (Sippert) Eberhardt, near Bentley, North Dakota. She had an older brother, Duane, and later three sisters, Shirlee (Quinn), Virginia (Goetzfried) (deceased), and Judee (Fowler). Claudine attended a one-room school until mid-fourth grade, and then a two-room school in Bentley for two years. She completed elementary school in Raleigh, North Dakota. The family then moved to Elgin, North Dakota, where she attended her freshman year of high school.
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The Eberhardt family relocated in Laurel, Montana, where she completed high school, and met the love of her life, Frank Eckes. She attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, for one year before marrying Frank in October 1953. They lived in Augusta, Georgia, from November 1953 until January 1955 when Frank was discharged from the Army. They later lived in Chugwater, Wyoming, and Glendive and Missoula, Montana before finally settling in the Bozeman area in 1970.
Claudine worked as a legal secretary most of her life, but took time off to raise her family of three daughters. She retired as an administrative assistant/legal secretary for the Research and Development Institute, Advanced Technology Institute, and Roger Flair, Attorney at Law, in 2000. Time with her family was a priority with Claudine, who enjoyed taking them on walks, family picnics and travel to Yellowstone and Glacier Parks. She sewed for her children when they were young, often creating fashionable coats and other items from used clothing. She was an excellent cook and her favorite hobby was photography, which was nurtured through the Camera Club of Bozeman. Growing flowers and playing card games were also sources of enjoyment. She and Frank loved to travel, particularly to Florida and Arizona after retirement.
She began working with the Awana Youth ministry in Belgrade Alliance Church when her children were young and continued this ministry for over thirty years. Some of Frank and Claudine's most valued friends are those made while serving on the Big Sky Awana Ministry Team. She also made fast friends through her participation in water aerobics.
Claudine struggled with health problems from young adulthood and was diagnosed with Lupus at age 24. It is only by the grace of God and answer to prayer that she lived to raise their children to adulthood, for which she never ceased to marvel and thank the Lord. Claudine acknowledged that she couldn't have done it without the loving care and encouragement provided by Frank.
Claudine was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Virginia Goetzfried. She is survived by her husband, Frank; daughters, Melanie (Les) Ehresmann, Bozeman, Montana, Marcelyn (John) Woods, New Braunfels, Texas, and Rachel (Doug) Thielmann, Belgrade, Montana; her brother, Duane Eberhardt, Billings, Montana; sisters, Shirlee (Quinn), Red Lodge, Montana; and Judee (Fowler), Spokane, Washington; five grandchildren, Ashley (Lee) Slehofer, Billings, Montana, Lindsay (Jeremy) Chvilicek, Belgrade, Montana, Heather Cross, Dallas, Texas, Zachary Cross, Bozeman, Montana, and Hunter Thielmann, Belgrade, Montana; and one great-grandchild, Fynn Raisor, Dallas, Texas; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Claudine's Life will be held on Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m. at the Belgrade Alliance Church, Belgrade, Montana. Reception immediately following in the church fellowship hall.
Memorial donations may be made in Claudine's name to the Big Sky Strategic Ministries (BSSM), c/o Lisa Beaudin, BSSM Treasurer, 2280 Sunlite Lane, Missoula, MT 59804; or Bozeman Health Foundation (memo line: Hospice), 931 Highland Blvd, Ste. 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715.
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 Feb. 4, 2016