Katherine Mary Shevlin left this full and long earthly life surrounded by family members in Helena on July 24, 2011. Kay, along with her twin brother, Kenneth, was born July 6, 1915, in the small town of Lambert. Her parents, Bernard and Katherine Mullin Backes, homesteaded in the area in the early 1900s.
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Two of Kay's brothers, Alonzo and Ken, died at early ages. Ben and Katie Backes kept their family, consisting of Kay and her brother, Otto, going through the tough years of drought and then the Depression by their hard work in farming, ranching, dairy/creamery, gasoline distributorship and service stations.
Katie Backes wanted her daughter to have a college education. Despite financial hardships, Kay graduated from MSU, now The University of Montana, with a bachelor's degree in 1938. She remained a loyal Grizzly fan and enjoyed watching their sporting events on television. She attended her 60th class reunion at the 1998 graduation ceremonies at UM when one of her grandchildren was obtaining her bachelor's degree.
During the 1930s, Ben opened a service station in Wheeler to service the needs of the workers at the Fort Peck Dam operation. It was here that Kay met a young Irishman by the name of Patrick V. Shevlin who was working at the site. Although born in Chicago, Pat was raised in Laurel and considered Montana his home.
On Oct. 8, 1942, Kay and Pat were married at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Lambert. Shortly after their wedding, Pat reported for active duty in the U.S. Air Corps and was stationed in Fort Douglas, Utah. Kay remained in Montana and worked at various jobs until Pat returned.
They were living in Great Falls when their first son, John Patrick, was born in February 1945. Pat was transferred to Glasgow and then Miles City, where Joseph Francis was born in November 1946. March 1948 saw the arrival of Mary Katherine, and the family was complete with the birth of James Michael in May 1950.
Kay and Pat were kept very busy raising their active children. Their large garden on Custer Avenue reminded the family of their agricultural ties to their Lambert and Ireland families. Baseball seasons and swimming lessons occupied their summers, along with tending the garden and marketing produce to the neighbors. Also the children were given instrumental music lessons. The need to be able to play an instrument reflected Kay's and her father's love for music. The gift of singing, however, was not part of any ability that was passed on to the children. Kay and Pat also enjoyed dancing and they were quite good at it. They especially enjoyed square dancing. Kay was last seen dancing at grandchildren's wedding parties after she turned 90 years old.
Following Pat's retirement from the Veterans Administration in 1974, the couple began enjoying winters in Arizona. Kay continued spending the winters in Apache Junction after Pat's death in 1976. She also did some world traveling, but always appreciated returning to Montana.
Kay moved from Miles City to Helena in the early 1980s and built one of the first homes in the then-new Cloverview development on the golf course. Although not a golfer herself, she enjoyed watching them play. Errant golf shots that ended up in her yard became gifts to her grandchildren. She spent time watching her grandchildren in various sporting and academic endeavors.
One of the things that Kay passed on to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was her love for chocolates. There were usually candies available and most likely a chocolate cake awaited any visitor to her house. The recent celebration of her 96th birthday included a delicious chocolate cake complete with chocolate frosting shared with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and fellow residents at Aspen Gardens.
Kay, with the assistance of her son, Jim, for the past two years, lived in her own home until after Thanksgiving 2010, when she went to live at the Waterford. Following a stay at the Big Sky Care Center, she recently moved into Aspen Gardens and was enjoying her new life there.
Kay was preceded in death by her husband, Patrick; daughter, Mary Kay; brothers, Alonzo, Kenneth and Otto; nephew, Kenneth Backes; niece, Barbara Backes Ketterling; and sisters- and brothers-in-law.
She is survived by sons, John and Penny (Conrad), Joseph and Cherie (Helena) and James (Helena). Surviving grandchildren are Brian and Heidi Shevlin (Virginia Beach, Va.), Dan Shevlin (Missoula), Amy Friede (Conrad), Travis and Anna Shevlin (Belgrade), Patricia and Brett Greene (Portland, Ore.), Theresa Bryant (Helena), Michael Shevlin (Boise, Idaho), Katie and Matt Boynton (Missoula), and Jason Shevlin (Bozeman). Surviving great-grandchildren are John Anthony, Cecilia and Agatha Friede; Chad and Desiree Shevlin; Ella, Hannah and Bailey Greene; and Shauntiel, James and Nathin Bryant. Kay is also survived by numerous nephews, nieces and extended family.
Kay passed away on the sixth anniversary of the death of her sister-in-law, Marie Ann Prevost Backes Logue. They were both born in July a few weeks apart, were classmates at Lambert Schools, shared a deep religious faith and enjoyed spending the winters in warmer climates.
A Vigil Service will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at St. Mary's Catholic Community in Helena. Funeral celebration will take place at St. Mary's at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1. Interment with a graveside service will take place at Calvary Cemetery in Miles City at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, with a meet the family gathering at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Pallbearers will be Kay's grandchildren.
Kay appreciated higher education and participated with family members in establishing endowed scholarships at The University of Montana, Montana State University and Carroll College. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to these funds or to charities of choice.
The family would like to thank the staffs at The Waterford, Big Sky Care Center, Aspen Gardens, St. Peter's Hospital and Hospice of St. Peter's for their great care, attention and concern shown to Mom during the last few months.
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.aswfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 27, 2011