Shirley Lee Luhrsen, 89, of Bozeman, passed away Thursday, April 28, 2012. She was born Oct. 16, 1922 in Owatonna, Minn. Her mother Donna Rosebrock raised her in Owatonna and being a librarian, encouraged Shirley's passion for reading, which provided her lifelong enjoyment. Following Shirley's graduation from high school, she earned a degree in natural history from Carlton College in Minnesota. Shirley came out to Montana with her mother and her new husband Joseph Markely and fell in love with it.
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While teaching at Montana State College in 1946 she met Robert Luhrsen. They were married at the family cabins at Deer Creek in 1947.
After Bob's graduation from Montana State College they moved to Malta, Westby, Belfry and Baker. Shirley went back to school when her children were older and earned her teaching certificate and library endorsement from Montana State College. She worked as a librarian and English teacher at Melstrom, Round Up, Judith Jap, and Box Elder. She was a substitute teacher in Zortman and at Bozeman High School.
In addition to teaching around the state, raising a daughter and three boys, she was also a newspaper columnist throughout the state at the Fallon County Times, Miles City Star, Lewistown Argus, Harlo Times, Great Falls Tribune, Billings Gazette and The Lone Peak Lookout in Big Sky. Her column "The Letters from Deer Creek" was the longest running newspaper column in the United States.
Later in life Shirley lived her summers at the family cabins at Deer Creek, feeding the Stellar Jays and squirrels, crocheting, sewing and continuing her enjoyment of reading. When her eyesight started to fail she enjoyed talking books, including many of the classics from her youth.
She was preceded in death by her mother and step-father, Joseph and Donna Markley; and her husband, Robert. Survivors include her daughter, Carla (Richard) McLaughlin of Bozeman; sons, Bruce (Lucy) Luhrsen of Lewistown, Donal (Candace) Luhrsen of Arizona, and Eric Luhrsen of Bozeman; nine grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; two step-sisters, Joann Todd of Las Gatos, Calif. and Caroline of Wisconsin.
In accordance with Shirley's wishes, her remains have been donated to the WWAMI medical program. A celebration of her life will be held this summer at the Family Cabins up Deer Creek.
Memorials may be made in her name to the Montana Association for the Blind, Bozeman Chapter, P.O. Box 6797, Bozeman, MT 59771 or the Pioneer Museum, 317 W. Main St., Bozeman, MT 59715.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 6, 2012