Born in Laramie, Wyo., Feb. 28, 1922 to Morris and Harriet Corthell, Phoebe grew up in Laramie on the edge of the University of Wyoming campus, riding her horse to the family cabin, named "Mertensia," in the Snowy Mountain Range. Phoebe took her final ride Jan. 9, 2015 into her beloved mountains to rest with her animal friends among the trees and flowers. She described a desire to "cross the gurgling creek" to be with John Montagne.
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Memories of a tomboy childhood included horse-centered family farm activities, huge family Christmas gatherings around an 18-foot long table with food served by model railroad, and watching three movie matinees back to back with buddies.
Traveling to Sun Valley Ski Area on the train with her cowboy and lawyer father, "Skiebe" won the 1940 Intercollegiate Ski Meet at Sun Valley and was the Wyoming 1942 Combined State Champion in Downhill Skiing and Slalom!
While attending the University of Wyoming she worked as camp cook for the UW Geology Field Camp. There she met her "man of the mountains," John de la Montagne from Dartmouth College. They married in late 1942 and during World War II she followed him through Colorado, Texas, and 10th Mountain Ski Troop postings.
Upon his return from Italy, she and John lived in Jackson Hole where John was a teacher in the winter and Ranger Naturalist dealing with climbing at Grand Teton National Park in the summer. Son, Cliff, was born in 1947. After a short stint in Crater Lake National Park, they moved to Hanover, N.H. where John worked in the Dartmouth College Admissions Office. After she was told that the Dartmouth staff wives should "dress appropriately and should not wear blue jeans on campus," they again moved to the West in 1953 (where she could). Phoebe urged John back to graduate school at U of WY where she was able to enjoy her extended family while he completed a Ph.D. degree in geology. Matt was born in 1950. Upon graduation they became a faculty couple at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. From there in 1957 the family moved to Bozeman, where John was a member of the new Earth Sciences Department at Montana State Univ. They lived next to the Charles Bradley family on South Tracy Avenue for almost 40 years.
Bridger Bowl skiing weekends, Cub Scout leadership, geology field trips and field camps, canoe trips on Yellowstone Lake and Grand Teton National Park lakes, involvement with the 320 Ranch where son, Cliff, worked, Teton Valley Ranch where son, Matt, worked, and weekend hikes in her beloved woods and mountains were her passions. She and John were involved with the formation of the MT Wilderness Association in 1959. Her dream of "living in the mountains and woods" was realized in 1970 when the Hodgeman House was built south of Bozeman.
A selfless mother and family caregiver her whole life she finally got to "rest" with a move to the Hillcrest Retirement Home in 1995. She and John moved to Aspen Pointe when it was built next door and spent their remaining years there with many friends. The "Phoebe Team" was of great comfort and companionship in her final years there and at the Gallatin County Rest Home.
Preceding her in death were her parents, and an infant sister, husband, John and infant son, Rocky, and sister, Amy King. Remaining relatives are sister, Jean Weitz of Fort Collins, Colo.; sons, Cliff (Joan) of Bozeman, Matt (Judy) of Jackson Hole, Wyo. and grandchild, Greta de la Montagne of Bayside, Calif., and great-grandchildren, Clary and Walker Owen, and step grandchild, Josh Bogle.
A celebration of her life will be held at Aspen Pointe on Feb. 13, at 4 p.m. Memorials can be made to one of her favorite charities, HRDC, at 32 South Tracy Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59715 as helping those less fortunate than she was always her concern.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 11, 2015