Mary Veronica Hunt of Helena, a wife, mother, registered nurse and community volunteer, died of natural causes on Tuesday night, Dec. 29, 2009, at St. Peter's Hospital. She was 79.
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Mary Hunt was born April 16, 1930, in Dillon, the daughter of Gebhard and Florence Streb Fassler, who had a ranch on Trapper Creek, west of Melrose. She grew up there with her two sisters and four female cousins, who lived on a ranch across the road.
Like her older and younger sister, after attending Melrose Grade School, Mary was sent to Missoula to enroll in the all-girls Catholic Sacred Heart Academy. She graduated as class president in 1948 and received a full academic scholarship to attend St. Patrick School of Nursing from 1949-52. She passed her state boards and became a registered nurse in March 1952, graduating later that year.
On Aug. 25, 1952, she married William E. Hunt, a University of Montana law student.
Mary worked as a registered nurse at hospitals in Missoula, Havre, Chester and Helena for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1992. She also worked as secretary in her husband's law office in Chester.
Mary and Bill had five children: Jim, Joe, Kate, Pat and Bill Jr.
She loved her husband, children and grandchildren unconditionally and fully supported them in whatever they took on. She was so proud of each of them and their accomplishments and was always there for them, no matter what.
The family moved to Helena from Chester in 1970, when her husband was appointed to head the state aeronautics division. Bill later was appointed the state's first workers' compensation judge and was elected to two terms as a justice on the Montana Supreme Court.
Helena was the Hunts' home for nearly 40 years. Besides raising her family and working at St. Peter's Hospital, Mary loved life and participated in a variety of activities.
Although Mary had friends of all political persuasion she was a Democratic Party stalwart and volunteered on many campaigns.
She volunteered for many years at the Montana Historical Society, where she loved taking students on tours of the museum. She was active in Friends of the Montana Historical Society for years, serving as president twice.
She did extensive historical research on her family and gave each of her children many books on her family's history.
As a senior citizen, she audited classes at Carroll College for eight years, especially enjoying history courses. She also took adult education classes in Helena, including auto maintenance and repair.
Mary served as a volunteer for music classes at Smith School when two of her granddaughters were students there.
Her cross-stitching, needlework, quilting and sewing always drew raves.
Mary had a keen interest in the arts. As a senior citizen, she was part of a tap dancing troupe that performed around town. Part of the Hunt tradition was her family singing "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve as she played it on the piano. Her family could always count on answering the phone on their birthday to her and Bill singing "Happy Birthday."
She was an avid reader and a lifelong learner.
Mary loved to garden, travel and tromp around in the outdoors. She loved nothing more than slipping away from town and was a skilled fly fisherwoman.
She was a longtime season-ticket holder who rooted for the Montana Grizzlies' football team.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents; her son, Joe; and her sister, Dorothy Byrne.
Survivors include her husband, Bill; her children, Jim (and his wife, Barbara Howe and children Hannah and Isabelle Hunt) of Helena; Kate (and her husband, Todd Johnson and children Arlo and Jane Johnson) of Kalispell; Pat (and husband Chuck Johnson) of Helena; and son, Bill Jr. (and companion Shelly Collier) of Shelby; sister, Helen Coleman (and her husband Verle) of Richland, Wash.; brother-in-law, Bill Byrne of Missoula; her cousins; and many nieces and nephews.
A vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at Retz Funeral Home. A Funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Helena Cathedral. Burial will follow in Resurrection Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any memorial gifts be made to a local food bank.
Retz Funeral Home of Helena is handling arrangements.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 1, 2010