In the early morning hours on Sunday, May 29, as the sun was rising and birds were singing, Jeannine traveled onto her next journey. She was born on May 18, 1935, in Hardin, Montana, where grew up until the family moved to Fairmont, Minnesota, in 1950. Here she was active in many school activities and acquired lifelong friendships, including the love of her life, Ron. The two married on New Year's Eve, 1955.
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After receiving a teaching position in Montana, they moved to Winifred. The community generously treated them like family, forming lasting friendships into the following generation. Ron was then given another teaching opportunity which led Jeannine back to her home town of Hardin, where they spent nearly ten years. Again creating lasting friendships that the family maintains today.
In 1971, Ron took his last teaching position at Bozeman Senior High. He was well known and respected statewide for his contribution to the DECA program. Jeannine played a large role in supporting him, the program and students that they were blessed and grateful to help. The couple devoted many years bettering the lives of children. Jeannine volunteered with the Teen Helpline and Crisis Center. Later, she would play a pivotal role in establishing and strengthening the Gallatin Valley Guardian Ad Litem CASA program. Beginning with just two volunteers, today there are nearly 60 volunteers. In the words of a senior member, it is no exaggeration to say that Jeannine's contribution in the early years paved the way to the success of the current program. The CASA program advocates for and gives a voice to those that would otherwise go unheard, the children of abuse and neglect. Jeannine dedicated nearly 15 years to the program, protecting hundreds of children. She not only earned the respect of judges, attorneys, and families, but of most importance the respect and trust of the kids. She was proud to receive statewide recognition near the end of her tenure by welcoming the award for CASA volunteer of the year.
While she was a great advocate for underprivileged children, she showered love and affection on the lights of her eyes, her grandchildren. She showered them with love and compassion, and socks…beaded socks. She could be found any given day, crocheting and beading socks with her poodles in her lap. She was seldom found without a dog by her side; not to mention the occasional hawk or falcon. She will be greatly missed by those that knew her, and that will be a lot as she never met a stranger!
Jeannine was preceded in death by her parents, Sam and Marguerite Meeke; her brother Sam; her sister May Lou and too many cherished pets to name.
She is survived by her sons, Sam (Jan) of Belgrade and Tony (Deborah) of Portland; daughter, Missy (Toby) Erickson of Billings; six grandchildren, Nick Newville, Kayla (Jeff) Lee, Emily (Darin) Zanto and their daughter Peyton, Addy Erickson (Ray D'Alessio), Taylor Newville, Dyllan Newville and too many of their beloved dogs, cats and birds at home.
The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to the staff at Elsie's Assisted Living in Belgrade and Hospice of Bozeman Deaconess.
Jeannine's favorite charities would appreciate any donations; Gallatin County CASA program, World Wildlife Fund, and Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.
A service will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 10 at Dahl Funeral Chapel with a reception to follow at the Elks.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at dahlcares.com
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 5, 2016