Gladys Marie Yeager

CONRAD Gladys Marie Yeager, 91, of Conrad, who devoted her life to her family and friends, died of natural causes Monday, April 8.

A memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Conrad. Pondera Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Born in 1922 in Butler, Okla., Gladys was one of nine children in the Lee and Anna Kauk family, the youngest of six sisters. In 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the Kauk family hoping to improve their lives in a new agricultural venture, moved to Brady. The move proved successful, and Gladys subsequently graduated from Brady High School. She then attended secretarial school in Great Falls and worked briefly as a stenographer before marrying Conrad's Ray Yeager on Oct. 28, 1942. Almost immediately, Ray's Army Air Corps service sent the young couple to air bases in Texas and New Mexico, where they were blessed with two daughters. When the war was over, the young family headed to Lemmon, S.D., to try their luck at farming. Confronting isolation, hail and drought, Gladys always managed the harmony of the family.

After seven years of turmoil and physical hardship, Gladys and Ray returned to Montana to engage in new endeavors. Their sights turned to a new opportunity ... the creation of the "Star Theater," the first drive-in theater in Conrad and a new addition to their family-a son. The Star quickly became a magnet for the community and a popular success, an operation run entirely by the couple, their children, trusted relatives and friends. Although very successful, Ray and Gladys were again enticed to return to farming taking over the old George Yeager "farm on the hill," seven miles northwest of Conrad. Gladys continued to manage the Yeager family, and the couple farmed for 17 years, selling the farm and retiring to an easier life in 1971.

Gladys was a gentle, soft-spoken lady with a positive attitude and a genuine care and concern for all with whom she came in contact. Besides her passion for her children and grandchildren, Gladys loved a heated card game with friends and relatives, reading romance novels and playing the piano. She was an excellent cook and bread-maker and loved to share recipes. Gladys was a long-time member of the Manson Community Club, active in the Pondera Community Center and Women of the Moose. After Ray's death in 1998, Gladys continued to maintain their home on Kansas Street, inspiring all with her vigor for life and her kindness to all.

Gladys is survived by daughters Charleen (Terry) Utterback of Conrad and Mary (John) Lithgow of Los Angeles; son George Yeager of Conrad; grandsons Greg Utterback of Billings and Ian and Nathan Lithgow of New York; granddaughters Ashlee Yost of Helena, Phoebe Lithgow of New Jersey, Sydel Yeager of Utah and Zoe Yeager of Missoula; a brother, Elmer Kauk of California, a sister-in-law, Lelah Kauk of Conrad; four great-grandchildren; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and seven siblings.

Memorials may be given to the First Presbyterian Church of Conrad, Hospice or a .

Condolences may be posted online at www.gftribune.com/obituaries.


Published in Great Falls Tribune on Apr. 10, 2013