Jeanne Lucille Eggert passed away Friday, May 10, 2013 from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was born April 30, 1939 in Youngstown, Ohio to Earl and Faith Mahaney. Five years later her beloved younger sister, Ruth, was born. Jeanne spent most of her childhood in Gary, Ind., where she received her high school diploma in 1957. From Gary, she moved south to Greencastle, Ind. to attend DePauw University, where she got her B.A. in elementary education and met the love of her life, Norm.
The Guest Book is expired.
Jeanne and Norm married in 1961, the summer they graduated, and then moved west to Utah, where Norm attended graduate school. In Utah, Jeanne taught second grade and gave birth to their first son, Jon. From Utah they moved to Colorado, where Norm continued his studies and where their second son, Don, was born. In 1967 they moved to Bozeman, where they set down roots. They gave birth to their third son, Randy, and a year later Jeanne received her M.S. in social work and early childhood development from Montana State University.
Jeanne was a well-loved and important part of Bozeman's community. She was the director of the Children's Activity Program (an after-school program for at-risk children) from 1969-1971. She was the director of the Methodist Preschool from 1971-1976. And she was the founding director of the ASMSU Day Care Center from 1977-1998. She volunteered for numerous organizations: Bozeman Day Care Association, Bozeman Association for the Education of Young Children, MtAEYC, National Coalition for Campus Child Care, Battered Spouse Network, The League of Women Voters, Junior High Parent Advisory Council, Cub Scouts, Kellogg Extension Education Project, Bridger Nordic Ski Club, Child Sexual Abuse Team, Bozeman Pass Citizens' Group Advisory Committee, Safe Trails Coalition, Montana Conservation Voters, and Red Cross, among others. Many Bozemanites have been inspired by her patience, generosity, and kindness.
Jeanne adored small children, and she devoted her working life to them. Her legacy is the ASMSU Day Care Center, which is still going strong today. She insisted on reading to the children even through her semi-annual bouts of laryngitis when she could do nothing more than whisper (the children would remain absolutely quiet and give her get-well hugs when the story was finished). She respected the children as individuals and taught parents and teachers through example – she would physically get down to the children's level when talking to them, letting them know that what they were saying was significant and that she was listening. In the evenings, she offered parenting classes, which were open to the community at large. In 1985, Jeanne received the Geraldine Fenn Award for her work with children, youth, and families; this award was especially meaningful to her because Geraldine Fenn had been a mentor and inspiration.
As an athlete, Jeanne was a late-bloomer, but in her forties she made up for lost time. She became an avid runner, and she especially liked trail runs. Among her favorite races were the John Colter run, in which she placed eight times (four first places), and the Bridger Ridge Run, which she completed twice. She also competed in cross-country ski races and bike races, as well as the Liver Eating Johnson bike-run-canoe triathlon (not to mention a dragon boat race on the Yangtze River in China). But Jeanne was less interested in competition than simply enjoying herself in the outdoors. She and her friends often spent long summer days road-biking. She was among the first women in the country to take up mountain biking. She loved hiking, back-packing, cross-country skiing, and canoeing in the back country.
In 1974, Jeanne and Norm bought property up Jackson Creek, where they and their three sons built a cabin by hand. The property became a place for solitude and for socializing. She and her family spent many quiet weekends at the cabin hiking or skiing during the day and playing board games in the evening. They also hosted many parties, including two anniversary celebrations and two wedding receptions. One of her favorite spots was on the ridge above the cabin, where she and Norm would read and relax. In 2001, Jeanne joined forces with other land-owners to prevent coal-bed methane drilling in the Jackson Creek area, a fight that lasted five years.
Jeanne and Norm traveled extensively after their children left home. They visited China (twice), Hungary, Germany, France, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Greece, and New Zealand. After she and Norm retired, they spent a year in Kazakhstan (where their middle son, Don, and his wife were living), and Jeanne taught at a Montessori preschool there.
After returning from Kazakhstan, Jeanne divided her time between two volunteer activities: The Red Cross and helping with her grandchildren. Among other volunteer activities with the Red Cross, Jeanne devoted herself to training disaster volunteers; this work entailed a great deal of travel all across the state. In 2012 she and Norm were honored by the Lieutenant Governor with the Ready Montana Award for their work with the Red Cross, and in 2013 Jeanne received the Meritorious Volunteer Leadership Award from the Red Cross of Montana. She also traveled to help out her family. Whenever she was needed, she happily drove or jumped on a plane (or even a Greyhound) to take care of her grandchildren.
In 2011, Jeanne and Norm celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary by taking their children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren on a cruise to Alaska. Jeanne was delighted to spend six days surrounded by her family, having dinner together every night, going on shore excursions, and watching her grandchildren sing karaoke.
Jeanne adored and was adored by her family. She is survived by her sister, Ruth Mahaney; her husband, Norm Eggert; her three sons, Jon, Don, and Randy; her three daughters-in-law, Nancy Park, Nancy Schmaus, and France Barral; and her seven grandchildren, Suzanne, Rebecca, Jakob, Victoria, Matthew, Salomé, and Raphaël. She will be missed.
Memorials may be made in Jeanne's name to Montana Red Cross (American Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th Street South, 3rd Floor, Great Falls, MT 59405) or Gallatin Valley Land Trust (www.glvt.org).
Please share condolences and memories at www.jeanneeggert.com.
A memorial and celebration of a life well lived will be held at Pilgrim Congregational Church (2118 S 3rd) Monday, May 20 at 2 p.m. Oral remembrances will be welcome.
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 May 17 to May 19, 2013