Holly Arden Ring (1940 - 2008)

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Holly Arden Ring, 67, of Livingston, Montana died suddenly in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on April 3, 2008. She suffered an apparent heart attack while snorkeling near the great reef offshore from the eastern Yucatan peninsula at Punta Maroma.

Holly was born on Dec. 28, 1940, in Oakland, Calif., to Arden Garrison Ring and Erma Lulu Ring. She graduated from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley in 1957, and later earned her bachelor's degree in art from the University of Washington. After some years as a starving artist and parade float designer/builder, she earned a teaching certification, then taught art in Southern California high school districts for over 20 years, as well as two years at California State University, Fullerton, where she earned a master's degree in drawing and painting in 1975. Body-surfing passionately at the wide Southern California beaches, she could catch both gentle swells and 6-foot to 10-foot waves. She loved hiking the San Jacinto mountains around Idyllwild, Calif.

But from her first sight of Montana mountains and streams in 1971, she found a passion for this place, spending every possible summer after that camping and fly fishing in higher waters of all of Montana's national forests, especially the streams and lakes of the East Pioneers and the Absarokas. When she retired in 1996, she worked in ceramics, generating a numerous Potts Family; she tried her hand at the cello, though Ocello resisted her efforts. Then after the long-yearned-for Last Best Move to Livingston in 2003, she kayaked on the Yellowstone River, cadged occasional practice horse rides, night-watched a herd of calving Red Angus, hiked and ran on area trails and hills and amassed topo maps for future jaunts. She felled, cut, and split firewood, thrilled at skiing Bridger Bowl with ski buddies, traveled in the pop-top camper Bronto, fought the local Houndstongue and Knapweed and daily gazed upon the Crazy Mountains and the unbounded skies hurtling past Livingston.

Holly is survived by her sister, Nancy R. Dillman, and nieces Holly Gillen and husband Roman, and Kristin Bialek and husband Michael, all of Corvallis, Ore.; nephews Scott Dillman of Seattle, Wash., and Steve Dillman and wife Mimi, of Snohomish, Wash.; grandnieces Kelcy Gillen and Shannan Bialek; grand-nephews Tad Dillman, Jared Gillen, and Hayden Bialek; and by her life partner since 1973, Rosemary Boston, of Livingston.

She was preceded in death by her parents (Pop, her fly-fishing mentor and storyteller extraordinaire; Mom, her steadying support and comic versifier-phrase turner); a long succession of cherished cats; and many brave Montana trout (though most of the latter, often given names, were released to leap again).

Holly was known by her friends as lively, playful, inventive, intelligent, beautiful, articulate, literate, skeptical, curious, honest, witty, quiet, noisy, loving - and above all, brave and adventurous. She took sustenance from Montana's land, air, waters, fiery sunsets and alpenglows, from the Yaak to the Beartooths, and from the music of JS Bach (though she kept her zest for The Beach Boys, Odetta, and many others).

She was a seeker, searching for truth beyond dogma. She lived an Examined Life, and she lived it well. She leaves behind many people who took pleasure in her presence and will grieve her absence.

The Holly Arden Ring Memorial Fund for the Cats has been established at the Stafford Animal Shelter (3 Boulder Park Road, Livingston, 59047), and contributions will be welcomed now and in years to come. A memorial celebration will be held at the Northern Pacific Beanery, on Park Street next to the Depot, on Sunday, April 27, 4 to 6 p.m.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 18, 2008
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