At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 Mary Ellen (Watson) Jensen left us to meet her husband in eternity.
The Guest Book is expired.
She was born June 2, 1921 approximately 12 miles northwest of Three Forks, Mont. near Shoddy Springs – the 4th child of Grover Cleveland Watson and Brackie Mae (Tribble) Watson. She joined two brothers, Carroll Otis and John Dudley, and a sister, Genevieve.
By the time she was ready to start to school they had moved to the Gastineau place which was much closer to school, where he parents lived for the rest of their lives. She graduated from the Eureka Elementary School in seven years due to such a large enrollment in all eight grades and only one teacher. They started combining 3rd and 4th grades and she was promoted on to 5th grade instead of going back to 3rd grade. At that time to pass from 7th to 8th grade there were state examinations in "hygiene" and "geography." To graduate there were state exams in all subjects.
She attended all four years of high school in Willow Creek staying in town the last two years so she could play on the basketball team. She lived with Viola Heily and her two sons, Jack and Hugh. The basketball team was very strong losing only one game in four years. At that time there were no tournaments and no districts. She graduated with honors in May 1938 tying for the scholarship with Esta Sallee who later became her sister-in-law.
In the meantime well before high school graduation Keith Jensen came into the picture. He worked on several different ranches in the Willow Creek area. Their close association made her life much more interesting and they became engaged during the summer after she graduated.
At that time there were no jobs for girls except housework. Her first job was in Trident keeping house for a teacher and her husband and two little girls. Her wages were $20 a month. Later she worked on a ranch near McAllister where she washed by hand for a bedridden invalid besides the housework and cooking for $25 a month. When the old lady died her job ended. After that she was hired at the Adams Ranch on the Madison River cooking for a crew of men besides keeping house and doing laundry for the ranch foremen who wore white shirts and changed several times a day. This job paid $45 a month. She worked there until early August 1939. She and Keith were married on Aug. 27, 1939.
After their marriage they lived the rest of their lives in the Willow Creek area 15 years of it on a small ranch just a mile north of town.
They were blessed with three children, Juanita Frances in 1943, Ronald Keith in 1946 and Randy Watson in 1953.
Mary Ellen was Clerk of the school board for the Willow Creek school system for 30 years. She instituted the Foreign Exchange Student Program, was secretary to the cemetery board for 20 years as well as part time in the local U.S. Postal System for 27 plus years. She worked on the county election board for many years, was also a member of the Willow Creek study club for many years. It was a community service club.
She was an avid basketball fan from the time she played the game in high school until Willow Creek partnered with Harrison for games. She and most of the refs over the years were on a first name basis.
At Willow Creek Days 2000 she received several awards for her lifetime of service to the Willow Creek community.
At Willow Creek Days 2005 she was one of the grand marshals in the parade.
She was a faithful member of the Church of Christ and had attended in Belgrade since the church started there in 1977.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Keith Elmo, and all of her immediate family parents, Grover C. and Brackie Mae; brothers, Carroll Otis (Mildred), John Dudley (Esta); sister, Genevieve Murphy (Terry Joseph); nephew, Martin Watson; brothers-in-law, John (Cora), Robert Meyers; nieces, Linda and Gwen; brothers-in-law, Mark and Blaine (Jeannie); nephew, Donald LeRoy, and former daughter-in-law, Patsy Miller.
Survivors include daughter, Juanita Fisher (Herb); sons, Ronald (Lynne), Randy (Jackie), foster son, Claudio Jaramillo (Alice) and family of Miami, Fla.; sister-in-law, Helen Meyers of Seattle; sister-in-law, Helen Jensen of Bozeman, and former son-in-law, Jim Hinshaw of Belgrade, 10 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Friday, Oct. 4, at 10 a.m. from the Church of Christ in Belgrade with Rev. Gage Myers officiating. Interment will follow in the Mount Green Cemetery at Willow Creek. A potluck reception will follow at the Willow Creek Fire Hall.
K&L Mortuaries & Crematory of Three Forks assisted with arrangements.
K & L Mortuaries
107 Jefferson St, Sheridan
Sheridan, MT 59749
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 2, 2013