On Jan. 11, 2009, after a long battle with emphysema, Frankie Lou Grote Sinnema passed gently into the arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ while being surrounded by her loved ones.
The Guest Book is expired.
Frankie was born on Oct. 31, 1934, in Clay Center, Kan. Her parents were certain that she would be a boy and planned to name her after her grandfathers, Frank and Lewis. Much to their surprise she was a girl, thus her name, Frankie Lou.
At an early age she moved with her parents to Idaho where her father worked in the mines. As a young girl hard work was ingrained in her. She would rise early, do her chores and head off to school. Frankie was an only child until she was 11, when much to her delight, her sister, Cheryl Lee, was born in 1945.
It was during her years in Silverton, Idaho, that she discovered one of her greatest passions in life - dancing. As a teenager, Frankie took dance lessons from a family friend, and in turn she gave lessons to local school children, even holding a recital for her students. Frankie performed in several talent contests and many recitals through her early years. She was especially proud of winning the first-prize trophy at a dance contest where the electricity went out as she continued to dance with no lights or music. The only sound was her tap shoes on the stage.
After high school graduation Frankie moved to California to pursue her love of dancing further by enrolling in The Arthur Murray School of Dance. She returned to Idaho after a year and was married to her first husband, Phillip Westfall in Wallace, Idaho, in 1954. Her son, Michael, was born in Wallace in 1955, and soon after the family moved to Bozeman, where her daughter, Deena was born in 1956. The family spent many weekends during the summer camping and going to the Fourth of July Ennis rodeo every year.
Frankie continued to pursue her love of dancing and opened Frankie's Dance Studio in 1956, producing numerous dance recitals over the next 12 years. She also waitressed at the Western Café, The New Grill, the Arcade and bartended at the Rocking R Bar during those years.
Frankie married Charles (Red) Bryson in 1969, whereupon they moved to Manhattan and managed the American Legion Bar for a few years.
She married Norman F. Sinnema in 1974 and worked as a cook at the Manhattan Elementary School kitchen from 1978 to 1994. She loved to tease the children and dress up for them every Halloween (her birthday).
After the death of her husband, Norman, she began another "adventure" in her life. Accompanied by her next door neighbor and best friend, Becky Dehart, she spent many summers RVing, fishing and traveling. They were known by many as the "Dynamic Duo." Frankie also enjoyed working in her yard, taking great pride in her flower garden.
Frankie is survived by her daughter, Deena (John) Leal of Manhattan; her son, Michael (Joni) Westfall of Bozeman; and her sister, Cheryl (John) Brownell of Butte. She is also survived by her uncle, Lyle Grote of Las Vegas, Nev.; four grandchildren, Melinda (Craig) Schroder, Heather Westfall, Michaella and Danielle Westfall; and by four great-grandchildren, Benjamin and Logan Schroder, Kylee Wlodkowski, and Delaynee Westfall; as well as her neighbor and best friend, Becky Dehart.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Alice Grote; husband, Norman Sinnema; and a great-grandson, Spencer Wlodkowski.
In her last few years, Frankie was house-bound, but she still had a zest for life and a great love of family. She rarely complained and had a real knack for making everyone who came through her door feel welcome and comfortable. She always had a servant's heart and was a true "prayer warrior" for her family and friends. She was a woman small in stature but mighty in heart and love for God and family.
We will miss her quiet strength, beautiful smile and her infectious laughter. She is now free - free to breath easy, free to rejoice and free to dance, dance, dance!
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Dokken-Nelson Sunset Chapel.
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 from Jan. 14 to Jan. 15, 2009