Norma Jean (Walter) Brester, 83, died unexpectedly from natural causes at her home on May 7, 2016, in the presence of family members.
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She was born in Billings, Montana, on March 18, 1933, and was the second child of George C. and Marie (Nafts) Walter. George was born in Walter, Russia and Marie in Allendoff, Russia. She was baptized, confirmed, and married in the Pilgrim Congregational Church of Billings. She was a 60-year member of Laurel's First Congregational Church.
Norma was raised on an irrigated farm south of Billings and attended the Elysian School as a child, where there were eight grades but only three classrooms. She graduated from Billings Senior High in 1951 and as a Registered Nurse in June 1955 from Billings Deaconess Nursing Program at Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings). She married Donald Brester on June 4, 1955, and lived in the house that they built on their farm west of Laurel, Montana, since. Don passed away in January 2011.
Four sons were born to that union: Kelly (Sheryl) of Laurel, Gary (Colleen) of Bozeman, Denny (Allyn) of Laurel, and Kevin of Bozeman. Her grandchildren include Holly (Jason) Anderson, Cory, Lauren, Kasey, Erin, Kenzie, and Kyle. She had two great grandchildren – Claire and Reagan Anderson. As the mother of four sons, she was incredibly grateful for the presence and attention provided by her daughters-in-law.
Norma was proud of "Our boys' choices and achievements, and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren" and of her life-long career as a Registered Nurse. She spent 44 years in the nursing profession, which she had selected as a career path following the removal of her appendix when she was only eight years old. She spent most of her nursing career in the maternity ward of the Billings Deaconess Hospital (working swing shifts in the evening, so she could raise her boys and help farm during the day). She retired from Deaconess in 1986. Then, she continued her work with children's health at the Billings Children's Clinic and retired in 1993. She returned to the Deaconess Hospital for a couple of years, and then retired again. She finished her career in the Pulmonary Department of the Billings Clinic where she retired (for the final time) in October of 2004. A memorable event occurred in May 2014, when she traveled to Bozeman for her granddaughter Kasey's graduation ceremony in which she pinned her with the Registered Nurse insignia. Kasey now works in the same department of the Billings Clinic as did her grandmother.
Norma was instrumental in helping build a successful farm business with Don, even though they started with almost nothing. She was also a faithful participant of the Laurel First Congregational Church for the past 60 years. In her retirement, she wore out countless lawnmowers in her never-ending pursuit to rid the world (well, at least her farm) of all weeds. She spent much time doing word puzzles, computer-assisted board and card games, water aerobics, feeding those who worked on her and Kelly's farms, fretting over the newspaper every morning, and mowing her lawn.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband Don of 55 years, her parents, and her brother Gordon. She is survived by two sisters, Eldora and Barbara (Jim) and her brother LeRoy (Norma), and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Mom, thank you and goodbye. You will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent in her memory to the First Congregational Church, 506 South 5th Avenue, Laurel, MT 59044 or a
. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 13, at First Congregational Church in Laurel. Inurnment will be at the Laurel Cemetery following the service.
First Congregational Church
506 S 5th St
Laurel, MT 59044
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 10, 2016