Gladys Louise Samson passed away peacefully Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 at her home in Bozeman after a long battle with emphysema and early stages of cancer. Her family was by her side. "Glady" will be deeply missed.
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Born on Dec. 2, 1926 to Clarence and Harriet Storm, homesteaders from Illinois, Gladys grew up on a wheat ranch north of Great Falls, near Power, Montana. She was dedicated to working the ranch alongside her father and brother in the fields, driving ranch equipment, helping to load grain elevators, and helping their mother and her sister in the house. As a child, Gladys would sneak barn kittens into her bed at night, having a fondness for cats that began with rural life on the ranch. She loved playing on the homestead grounds with her sister Dorothy and Brother Stuart. She spoke often of how she loved the peaceful quiet of the ranch and the smell of the wheat fields. She would sing on the tractor to pass the time when she was alone out in the fields during long summer days. During school months, she and her siblings lived in town in Great Falls with their mother and she attended Great Falls High School from 1941 to 1943.
Gladys volunteered for the Air Force at Gore Hill Air Base (now private) in Great Falls, pulling engines from bombers for repair. She drove the aid car to and from Malmstrom Air Force Base, transporting visiting dignitaries. Favorite memories included dancing in the large cargo planes to music coming in on the plane's radio with her fellow volunteers on the base. She loved mechanical work and enjoyed working hands-on with equipment for the air base and for the ranch. She loved working side-by-side with her father who taught her the strong Storm family way of patience with problem solving and conflict.
Gladys went on to attend Stephens College from 1944 to 1946 in Columbia, Mo., and Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. from 1946 to 1947. She also attended Montana State University from 1958 to 1960 where she received her registered nursing degree. She was a member of Alpha Tau Delta Sorority and was president of her Nursing Class Mortar Board. A favorite part of her nursing school rotation was spent at Warm Springs, an experience that deeply impacted her in terms of recognizing how much true compassion and caring were desperately needed in the nursing profession. She went on later in life to work at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital from 1980 to 1985. She was also a volunteer with Hospice when it first formed in the Gallatin Valley – a labor of love that came full circle, as it was Hospice of Southwest Montana that was there to comfort her in her last days.
Gladys married Richard L. Voorhees on June 17, 1947. Together they lived in Helena, Portland, Boston, Denver, and Saint Louis. Gladys and Richard had two sons, Gary Lynn Voorhees and Thomas Richard Voorhees. Gladys and Richard divorced in 1958.
Later she met A'Delbert P. Samson, department head of the Montana State University sociology department. The two were married on Aug. 28, 1960 and had two daughters together, Danielle Suzanne Samson and Michelle Anne Samson. Del and Gladys had many adventures together, including a six-month trip to Europe in 1963 and another trip to Europe in 1978. They lived most of their married life in the General Lester Willson House on the corner of Story and Willson in Bozeman. Gladys cared for and oversaw the big old house, maintaining much of the Willson's décor and antiques as a favor to Helen Willson, widow of Fred Willson, who was born in the original homestead on the property, and later became the famed Bozeman architect.
Gladys and Del were especially supportive of fellow and visiting faculty to MSU. They were also involved in the Bozeman arts community, and the halls of their home were decorated with many Bob DeWeese, Virginia Boeglie, and Jean Perkins paintings, among others. Pottery by their friend Francis Senska graced many a shelf in their home.
Gladys loved horses and shared this passion with her sister Dorothy and with her daughters Michelle and Danielle. She also was an avid skier, an activity she most enjoyed with all of her children and with many friends. When her boys were small, she would take Del, Gary and Tom to Bridger Bowl to teach them how to ski, and later her two daughters, Michelle and Danielle. She once won the Doug Smith Memorial Downhill Race at Big Mountain in Whitefish and also won the Rocky Mountain Slalom Championship in 1948. In her final days, she talked of skiing often and remarked that the first thing she wanted to do when she got to heaven was to go skiing again.
Gladys's children Gary, Tom, Danielle and Michelle were her greatest joy in life, along with her only grandson Max. Her love for them was all encompassing and she loved actively sharing in their lives. She was a favorite surrogate "mom" to many of their friends throughout the years; the Samson house was a favorite place for many of their friends to congregate and Gladys always took the time to chat with them, making each person, in her special way, feel like they were important to her. She was very kind to all and made everyone feel at home when they came to visit.
Gladys's later years were spent at Highgate Senior Living Center, where she forged many strong and lasting friendships. She enjoyed attending Bible study there every week as well as many other activities with her special group of friends who appreciated her gracious warm ways, her love of life, delightful wit and her ever-positive outlook.
Gladys was preceded in death by her parents, Clarence Munroe Storm and Harriet Alice (Parr) Storm; her brother, Stuart Storm; her husband, Del Samson; and her daughter, Danielle Suzanne (Samson) Richardson. She is survived by her sister, Dorothy (Storm) Munoz, of El Paso, Texas; her son, Gary Voorhees and his wife, Nancy, of Stanwood, Wash.; her son, Tom Voorhees and his wife, Peggy, of Bozeman; her daughter, Michelle (Samson) Thiel, of Bozeman; her grandson, Max Thiesen, of Bozeman; and by numerous nieces and nephews on both the Storm and Samson sides.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, March 2 at Dahl Funeral Chapel, with a luncheon and reception to follow. Donations in Gladys's memory may be made to Hospice of Southwest Montana, c/o Bozeman Deaconess Foundation, 931 Highland Blvd., Suite 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715.
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 on Feb. 28, 2012