Mary Chappelle Langan-Hansen passed away on July 1, 2014. Mary was born in San Francisco, Calif. on July 20, 1932 the third and youngest child, and only daughter, to Thomas Gwynne and Delores Aletha (Graves) Chappelle. She was married to Melvin Letman in Oakland, Calif. in 1952 and John Gibbons Langan in Virginia City, Nev. in 1958. She moved with her family to Wyoming in the early 60s, and eventually came to Bozeman in 1964. She met the love of her life, Chester "Wally" Hansen in Bozeman in 1967. They remained together for the rest of her long life, a total of 48 years.
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Mary led an extraordinary life and in her teens and early twenties, she lived in San Francisco as well as in Sausalito. She had many friends among the beatniks in Sausalito and in North Beach. Mary was always interested in diverse cultures and she was formally adopted by the Shoshone Tribe on the Wind River reservation, Wyoming in the early 1960s. During the late 1960s she studied philosophy at MSU and was known by many young students as 'Mother Mary.' Mary participated in several peace marches of the late 1960s and throughout her life, contributed to many social causes and organizations which fed the hungry and housed the homeless.
Upon her first coming to Bozeman she met her dear friends, Norm and Sil Strung and Bob and Gennie DeWeese, along with others up South Cottonwood Canyon. This was a place that was always near and dear to her heart.
After meeting Wally during the "Summer of Love" in 1967, the two were inseparable. When Wally finished his architecture degree at MSU in 1971, he had an opportunity to do pioneering research in energy conserving building technologies with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in Butte. While in Butte, Mary worked at the local Humane Society. She found homes for many dogs and cats pleading with all who crossed her path, saving scores of animals scheduled for execution. She was gratified to show many of the animals love during their final days. All who knew Mary came to understand, all animals were to be treated as you would the spirits of all living things.
Mary and Wally couldn't wait to get back to Bozeman and they returned to build their dream home, designed by Wally, in 1984. Mary spent much of her time planting and gardening at their family home taking little jaunts on the blue highways of Montana seeing parks and ghost towns and engaging in long conversations about Celtic and Norse mythology, the Classics, ancient Rome, and poetry, always with dogs underfoot.
Throughout the 60s and 70s Mary and Wally kept busy camping and fishing with their friends the Strungs, and Mary was often mentioned in books and articles written by Norm. Mary was always the life of the party, full of great conversation and gentle observances, and had strong opinions about many social issues. She was a big fan of music with a particular love for Pink Floyd, The Beatles and The Doors.
Although she did not belong to any specific religion, she was very spiritual and had her sons, in their teens, reading Siddhartha and Demian by Herman Hesse along with many other writings on religion and philosophy. She was an avid student of her Welsh ancestry and studied her lineage enthusiastically, reconnecting with her Welsh relatives. In the 1990s, Mary and Wally took a walk-about through her ancestral village of Llanelli, Wales as well as most of south Wales. Mary had a sharp intellect and while there, she enjoyed many discussions of ancient Welsh, Mabinogion, and Arthurian legends with the locals in the pubs. She and Wally also visited many ancient Celtic sites and many photos show her praying for all souls while there.
Mary was a free spirit, marked by her crystal blue eyes and loved by all she encountered. Her compassion for those who were in need, was felt by all who needed it. As she awaits us in the great beyond, she would want you to remember; take your vitamin C, and keep your drinks well-iced. Mary is survived by her loving husband, Wally; her four loving sons, Christopher, Mark, Jeffrey, and Colter, as well as her five grandchildren. If you wish, Mary would want you to contribute to the Bozeman area Food Bank.
A memorial celebration, "A Big Party" as she specifically instructed us, will be held at 5:30 p.m., on Sunday, July 20 (Mary's birthday) at the Lindley Park Center (old Moose Lodge – 1102 E. Curtiss) in Bozeman. Please join us for an old fashioned Welsh Wake and to celebrate Mary's life!
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 9, 2014