Molly Lee (Polly) Hester was born Nov. 24, 1924 in Belews Creek, N.C., the middle of nine children of Moses and Nancy Hester. She grew up on the family tobacco farm, and graduated from high school in Kernersville, N.C. in 1943. In January 1945 she joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Washington, D.C. She was honorably discharged in February 1948, receiving the Victory Medal of World War II. In D.C. she met Pat Wilhelm while taking shelter in a bar from a rainstorm. They were married on October 31, 1947 in Savage, Md. Polly and Pat moved to the Swan Valley in Montana in March 1948. Polly was the first member of her family to leave North Carolina. Despite her homesickness, she quickly became a part of the Wilhelm family, embraced especially by her mother-in-law, Marguerite. In 1956, Polly and Pat and their children, Lee and Joan, moved to Melrose where they resided until 1973. Ward joined the family in 1967. After leaving Melrose, Polly and Pat lived in Twin Falls, Idaho; Dillon; Bozeman; Belgrade; Aumsville, Ore.; Yuma, Ariz. and Ennis before moving to Manhattan in October 2012 where she resided at the time of her death. Wherever they went, Polly was the consummate neighbor, always befriending those around her.
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Polly was known for her wonderful sense of style, her southern accent, her "molassey" cookies, and her devotion to her grandchildren.
She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Pat Wilhelm; children, Lee (Mary) Wilhelm of Bozeman, Joan (Richard) Rose of Atlanta, Ga., and Ward (Kathy) Wilhelm of Anchorage, Alaska; grandchildren, Bridget Wilhelm of Seattle, Wash., Connor Wilhelm of Bozeman, Alicia (Brandon) Hardesty and their daughter, Leigha of Melrose, N.M., Terry (Girlie) Shurtleff of Fort Bragg, N.C., and Josh Shurtleff of Anchorage, Alaska. She was preceded in death by her parents, her eight siblings and her granddaughter, Kayla Wilhelm.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at the Dokken-Nelson Funeral Chapel, 113 S. Willson in Bozeman. Memorials may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS, 66675 or online at woundedwarriorproject.org, or to the
. 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 Apr. 17, 2013