Lillian Marie Stocks lived a life of love, bringing joy and comfort to all who shared her presence, giving so much of herself to help so many others. With her family at her side, Lillian's 11-month battle with cancer ended peacefully at her sister Debbie's home in Gallatin Gateway, Mont. on Sept. 21, 2012. She was 55.
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God's beauty and light glowed from within her and she never wavered in her faith – even when it was tested by terminal illness. Her husband of 30 years, Terry Stocks, attests to the depth of Lillian's faith.
Though Lillian and Terry met in high school, it wasn't until Terry had a chance encounter with Lillian's mother four years after Lillian graduated that Terry learned Lillian was single. He quickly made a phone call that resulted in their first date. Terry, however, was turned down for a second date on the premise that Lillian was only going to date Christian men. While wrestling with his beliefs about Christianity, Terry also wrestled with his desire to be with Lillian and wished for a way to navigate both.
"I found her weakness," Terry said. "I'd say, "how about a little rocky road ice cream?" and then we would meet over ice cream and just talk – but Lillian insisted it wasn't really "dating." Terry said that she refused to date him seriously until he had come to know the Lord as his Savior. Terry wasn't about to deceive the woman he wanted to spend his life with and so his journey of faith was perhaps also a great test of patience. "It took me almost three years to get that second date," he said. "She had such strong moral character; she wasn't going to waver on it."
After forging the spiritual relationship that knit their hearts together, they married within a few months and never parted. Two weeks after their marriage they moved to Alaska, where they lived for most of their married life and where their two children, Sarah and Bryan, were born.
Lillian worked full-time as a surgical and sterile processing technician at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, Alaska for nearly 20 years. "Lillian enjoyed being a mother and seldom missed any of our children's activities." Terry added that among her favorite activities was sewing something fun for Bryan and Sarah for Halloween. "She would spend weeks sewing outfits for them to wear on Halloween."
Lillian was always willing to set aside her own needs to help others – even taking those who needed a little extra help into her own home.
"She was a very giving person," said her sister Debbie Rabel of Gallatin Gateway.
When people in her own family fell ill, Lillian was a constant provider of care and comfort. "She took almost all of the suffering out of being sick," Terry said, "and would stay up all night with a person if they needed her."
In addition to helping anyone in need, Lillian brought joy and laughter into people's lives with her cards and letters and homemade gifts – most notably her photo albums.
Most of all, everyone just loved being in her presence.
"She always stood up for what was right," said her father, Fred Fike. And that fact was played out in her life when life's challenges would arise with work or in lending a helping hand.
"Lillian lived her life as a Christian example for others," said her mother, Tressie Fike. "I am very proud to be her Mom."
Lillian's warm spirit and caring nature endeared her to her family and attracted many friends. "She loved to entertain people with big Sunday dinners. At least two to three times a month, members of the church were invited into our home," Terry said, "and they often commented about the laughter they shared in our home." Lillian counted the work and preparation required for these dinners all as joy.
In the midst of helping others, entertaining friends and enjoying her family, Lillian and her husband still found the time to enjoy one of her favorite pastimes – salmon fishing. During the warm July months of Alaska, Lillian could be found on the banks of the Kenai River. "She was pretty good at catching them reds," Terry said. "When she caught a fish she didn't want to part with it."
Because of all the joy Lillian brought to her family and friends she, too, is hard to part with.
In honor of this woman with a heart of gold, about 100 friends and family gathered in July at The Commons in Bozeman, Mont. and celebrated Lillian's 55th birthday. Terry and Lillian ate lobster and held each other close as they danced across the hardwood floor. Neither Terry nor Lillian had ever attended a prom so, in the spirit of high school proms everywhere for every generation, Lillian and Terry decided to get decked out for the event – he in his black tux and she in a sparkly blue prom dress. "She is so beautiful," her husband said.
Lillian was born on July 11, 1957 in Deer Lodge, Mont. She graduated from Powell County High School in Deer Lodge in 1975 and then attended college in Havre, Mont. for a year. She then attended the Vo-Tech School in Missoula, Mont. and received a certificate as an operating room technician in 1978. Her first job was at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.
Lillian is survived by her husband, Terry; daughter, Sarah Hart and son-in-law, Jake Hart; son, Bryan Stocks and daughter-in-law Leah Stocks; her parents, Fred and Tressie Fike; and mother-in-law, Doris Stocks. She is also survived by her siblings and their respective spouses, Dave and Kathleen Fike, Debbie and George Rabel, Ken and Annette Fike and Nancy and Matt O'Reilly. She is also survived by numerous in-laws and their spouses respectively; Vicky and Al Chaffey, Ken Stocks, Cheryl White, Theresa and Bob Webber, Nancy and Mike Boldt and Tammie Daniels as well as special friend R.E. Frizzell. In addition, her nieces, nephews, and numerous special friends with whom she became acquainted with through work and church-related events survive her.
Lillian's family would like to thank Hospice of Southwest Montana and a special thank you for all those involved in making her last days comfortable. If you weren't family you are now.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, Oct. 5 at Kenai Fellowship Church in Alaska, starting at 7 p.m. All who knew and were touched by Lillian, please come and share your memories.
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 on Sept. 26, 2012