Vera "Bo-Peep" French (1939 - 2011)

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  • "Im so sorry to hear of your mothers passing. They say time..."
    - rena whitney
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Our sweet, loving mother passed from this life to the next during a chinook on Feb. 12, 2011, surrounded by her family, following her unrelenting optimism and hope that she would overcome lung cancer.

"Bo Peep" was born in Winnett to Agnes Kelly on Oct. 13, 1939, and grew up in Lewistown.

She raised her children in Alaska and Billings. Mother always worked very hard to overcome "the glass ceiling." She began her career as a cosmetologist. Her career in hospitality management took her to live in Miami, Fla.; San Francisco and Arcadia, Calif.; Yuma, Ariz., where she owned and operated Mrs. Kelly's restaurant; Phoenix and Chino Valley, Ariz., where she ultimately lived her dream by resurrecting an old farmhouse into a beautiful bed and breakfast inn and which was featured in Arizona Highways Magazine in 2008. She had lived and worked there the past seven years, until it was necessary to come to Montana to be with her family during her illness.

She was a member of local chambers of commerce everywhere she lived, Zonta International, a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy, an artist who helped raise funds to begin the Emerson Cultural Center in Bozeman, and an active member of the Arizona Bed and Breakfast Association.

She enjoyed entertaining guests, travel, the warmth of the sun, the dessert, Baja, Calif., Mexico, gardening and sewing.

Through the love and support of the Bozeman Cancer Support Center, she learned and promoted the message that through meditation and being truly present in this moment, one can see the greatest beauty in life and find peace, no matter one's previous experiences or concerns for the future. She would encourage everyone not to use tobacco or to quit if they do, and to show compassion, love and kindness to everyone they meet, for everyone is fighting a battle of some kind.

Mom quit smoking in 1969. In her final months, the only thing worse for her than seeing an anti-tobacco advertisement featuring someone with lung cancer was seeing a young person using tobacco.

She is survived by her children, Rae English (Stan Cook) of Amsterdam, Rory (Joy) English of Lewistown, James E. English of Moore; their step-brothers and –sisters; two grandsons, Wyatt and Rory (Felicia) English; her sisters, Wanda Hinkhouse, now the innkeeper of the Teapot Inn in Chino Valley, Ariz., and Earleen (Hartford) Galgerud of Grass Range; her Aunt Brownie Meserve; Uncle Dick (Donna) Kelly; nephews and cousins, many very special and loving friends around the world, and her pets, "Chick-a-bird" and (Hobo) "Cat."

She was predeceased by her mother, Agnes Hartford; her grandmother, Vera Kelly, for whom she always held a very special place in her heart; her sister, Kally (Hartford) Biggs; and brother, Robert Hartford, who also died of lung cancer.

She donated her body to the WAMI program at MSU for the advancement of medical science.

Services will be announced, to be held on a sunny, warm day in the church of the great outdoors this coming summer in Montana.

Memorials may be made to the Bozeman Cancer Support Center, or to Central Montana Hospice in Lewistown.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 16, 2011
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