On the evening of Oct. 2, 2014, Jean Louise Thorson passed away peacefully at her home in Bozeman with her family present.
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Jean was born to Harry JB Wilson and Doris Cornell Wilson on Aug. 26, 1923 on a homestead near McAllister, Mont. She attended a one-room school house near McAllister, high school in Ennis and then received her teaching degree from the State Normal School in Dillon (now the University of Montana Western). Jean taught both elementary and high school in White Sulphur Springs. There she met and married Dean Thorson, a World War II veteran, and they ranched at Sheep Creek and Whitetail. They had one daughter, Barbara. They later divorced.
In 1966, Jean moved to Bozeman where she taught 5th grade social studies and earned her master's degree in education from Montana State University. After 25 years of teaching, she retired in 1983.
After retiring, she started volunteering at the Museum of the Rockies and accumulated over 24,000 hours of volunteer work as a docent, working in the Tinsley House and giving tours at the Living History Farm as well as the museum. She and several other women formed a sewing circle that raised money for the Living History Farm. Jean also worked on historical archeology projects at Ft. Ellis.
Summertime activities came in many forms. She enjoyed cooking at several dinosaur camps with Jack Horner and crew and Les Davis and staff. She performed archeology work at the Natural Cap Cave in Lovell, Wyo. and attended several archeology expeditions conducted by John Montagne.
Her favorite hobbies and activities included spending time with her family, taking lunch to the hay crews at the ranch, sewing, yard work and attending MSU Bobcat football games. She enjoyed canoeing on the Madison and Jefferson rivers with John and Eleanor Mest, exploring old Indian sites with her family, Christmas bird counts at Ennis, Three Forks and Bozeman, Lewis & Clark lecture tours locally, down the Yellowstone, up the Missouri and at the Headwaters.
Other involvements included Delta Kappa Gamma, Montana Winter Fair Board (receiving the Hall of Fame Award), Senior Center Advisory Board for the City of Bozeman, Senior Center Foundation RSVP, Woodworkers at the Senior Center, Lewis & Clark Heritage Chapter, Wonderlust and GallaVan.
Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Ray Russell; two granddaughters, Carla (Ian) Manger and Cheryl (Scott) Turner; one grandson, Raymond Russell; and six great grandchildren, Kelsy, Kendra and Wylie Manger, and Scott, Jared and Hailey Turner.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents, brother and two infant sons.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Museum of the Rockies Living History Farm, 600 W. Kagy, Bozeman, MT 59717; Rocky Mountain Hospice, 301 Edelweiss Dr., Ste. 6, Bozeman, MT 59718; or the Meagher County Library Foundation, PO Box S, White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645.
Special thanks to the neighbors, Dr. Fairbanks, Ginger Lee, Dawn White, Rob Larson, Rocky Mountain Hospice, Serenity Home Healthcare and Home Instead.
There will be two funeral services held for Jean. A funeral service celebrating Jean's life will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church, 26 W. Babcock St. in Bozeman, with a reception to immediately follow in the social center of the church. A visitation will begin at 12 p.m., with a funeral service celebrating Jean's life at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 at the Yoked Parish Church 411 Jefferson St., White Sulphur Springs, Mont. A reception will immediately follow in the social center of the church. Please visit www.stevensonwilke.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Jean.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 9, 2014