Florence (Bell) Ore (1927 - 2014)

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Beloved mother, grandmother and friend, Florence Bell Ore, died Oct. 17, 2014. She had been residing at the Gallatin Rest Home where the staff compassionately and competently cared for her since March 2014.

Born on May 26, 1927 in a logging camp near Mission City, British Columbia, Florence was the only child of English immigrants to Canada, John and Mildred House Bell. When she was five, the family later moved to the Blackfoot Nation Reserve near Gleichen, Alberta where her father worked as the farming instructor at the missionary boarding school. She attended Gleichen public schools until 1939, then entered boarding schools in Calgary at age 13. Florence graduated from high school at Mount Royal College in 1946, earning the highest grades in her class. She worked as a secretary, eventually gaining the position of executive secretary in an American oil company. For sport, Florence competed in target shooting with the Alberta Provincial Rifle Association. At a match in 1951, she was paired with a Montanan, George Wesley Ore. On Nov. 24, 1951, they were married in Calgary. Florence wrote about this unusual childhood in her memoir, "The Road Between," published in 2011.

On the surface, Florence's adult life followed the trajectory of many women of her generation. In 1952, Wes and Florence settled in Sunburst, Montana. That fall, their first child, George David, arrived, the beginning of a large baby boom family. Five more children followed: Susan, Janet, Spencer, August Roger and Stephen. While Wes worked as a welder and machinist, Florence established a home. In late 1968, the family moved to Bozeman. Wes's job as a salesman traveling the state for Berkeley Pump Company allowed them to live where they wanted. After successfully completing a correspondence course and passing the real estate broker exam on her first try, Florence opened an office as a licensed realtor. The family's time in Bozeman was short and marked by pain; in 1971, their daughter, Susan, died in a horse accident. Florence found a place for her family to heal in Pony. There, Florence found her angle of repose; the beloved house became the family center and refuge to the current day.

Florence was much more than the typical post-World War II matron, however. In all her endeavors, she brought a powerful intelligence and an artistic sensibility. She learned quickly, and she sought opportunities to master new knowledge and to engage the world. In the late 1980s, Florence became politically active when she opposed a cyanide leaching mill in Pony. From this experience, she served as a board member for the Northern Plains Resource Council during its efforts to reform the 1872 Mining Law. Florence had always read widely and eclectically in nonfiction: anthropology, philosophy, history and memoir. In 1996, she drew on this informal education when she and her daughter-in-law, Anne Hepburn Ore, opened Magpie Books in Three Forks. After the bookstore closed in 2006, Florence completed her memoir. Its cover featured one of Florence's paintings. Art infused her world. She drew and painted all her life and taught her children and grandchildren to trust their artistic talents. Though her body failed her in later years, Florence's mind remained acute until the end of her life.

Florence's remarkable life force centered most strongly on her family. Through her generosity and love, she drew her children and their families close. Her home was the family bedrock; everyone congregated there for celebrations and countless spontaneous gatherings on her large back porch. When Wes died in August 1998, people met there for his wake. Florence's strength and essential optimism sustained the family through its tragedies; the death of daughter Susan in 1971 and the deaths of sons David and Spencer in 1986.

Florence leaves behind a reservoir of love and strength that flows through her children and their spouses, Janet Ore and Mark Fiege, August and Anne Ore, Stephen and Margaret Ore, and stepdaughter, Margaret Ore; her grandchildren, Andy Schepp, Daniel, Peter, Sam, Emmet, Mariah, Spencer, Nolan, Martin, and Alexandra Ore; and her wide network of beloved friends. She has marked all of our lives with her warmth, her courage, and her embrace of the fullness of life. Florence's family will celebrate her life with a party on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 19, 2014
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