FORT BENTON Mary Ann Hampton, 80, died from complications of Alzheimer's disease Friday, Oct. 26, at the Fort Benton nursing facility.
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Her funeral is 2 p.m. Saturday at Fort Benton United Methodist Church. Following burial at Riverside Cemetery, a luncheon will be held at the church. Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester handled arrangements.
Mary Ann was born Jan. 18, 1932, in Coronado, Calif., to Jasper and Anna (Nelson) Walden. She enjoyed her childhood years on the California coast swimming, taking horseback riding lessons, riding the ferry to the mainland and being a regular visitor at the San Diego Zoo. As the daughter of a career Navy officer, she was well versed in enemy military drills as she experienced the drama of World War II.
In her middle school years, she and her parents moved to Louisville, Ky. She graduated from Okalona High School in 1949. She continued her education at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in education in 1952. While attending college, she met the love of her life, Robert Wayne Hampton. They were married on Sept. 8, 1952, in Louisville, where Mary Ann taught school. Wayne's draft into the US Army brought them to Texas.
An offer from Mary Ann's uncle in Montana to try farming and take over her mother's homestead brought the family to a new life north of Geraldine, where they raised a family of three. Not only was Mary Ann a devoted housewife, she often helped her husband with much of the farming, especially when air conditioned tractors became commonly used. She even had her own tractor – much to the surprise of everyone who knew Mary Ann as an only child with the "Shirley Temple curls," who was very much loved and "spoiled" by doting relatives. Mary Ann and Wayne were not only partners in marriage, but their lifelong unselfish commitment and love for each other carried them through parenting, farming and retirement.
In the winter months, the Hamptons lived in Fort Benton, where Mary Ann was a substitute teacher at Fort Benton Schools for many years. Her favorite hobby was reading. She was known to read several books a week, as well as newspapers and magazines. With her love of reading and knowledge of books, she served on the Chouteau County Library Board. During her term as chairman, she was instrumental in the construction of the addition that doubled the size of the Carnegie Library.
Mary Ann was a talented artist and calligrapher. She generously shared her talent with schools, churches, children and family. She and Wayne partnered to create many projects from jewelry to antique cars, name plates, signs, and posters. They even collaborated on the home they built together. Mary Ann liked playing pinochle with friends, working crossword puzzles, but her favorite game was Scrabble. She belonged to a Scrabble club, and provided stiff competition to any opponent.
Faith was a central theme in Mary Ann's life. She spent many volunteer hours in her church, teaching Sunday school, keeping church books and participating in the United Methodist Women's many projects. Later she became active on the conference level and was one of the first laypersons appointed to the Board of Ordained Ministries, where she participated in the selection and ordination of ministers for the Yellowstone Conference (inc. Wyoming and Montana).
Mary Ann and Wayne especially enjoyed following their grandchildren's activities, as well as traveling to places all over the United States and abroad to visit friends and family. After their retirement from farming in 1991, they became volunteers in Glacier National Park. For 15 summers, they worked as hosts at Two Medicine Campground. These were truly memorable summers in their lives as they found fulfillment in meeting many new people, making friends and sharing their love of Montana with hundreds of tourists.
When Mary Ann faced too many challenges in dealing with Alzheimer's disease, she moved to the Missouri River Medical Center in Aug. 2011.
Mary Ann will long be remembered for her classy style, her organizational skills, her compassion for others, and her willingness to volunteer whenever there was a need.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Mary Ann is survived by her husband of 60 years, Wayne Hampton of Fort Benton; son Larry Hampton of Helena; daughters Gail (Rudy) Cicon of Chester and Linda (Mark) Hendricksen of Spokane; six grandchildren, James (Erica) Hampton; Heidi (Michael) Browne and Kyle Cicon and Taylor, Hayley and Hannah Hendricksen; and five great-grandchildren, Zebulon, Samuel, Caleb, Isaac and Morgan.
In lieu of flowers to honor Mary Ann, memorials may be directed to McLaughlin Research Institute (for Alzheimer's research) at 1520 - 23rd Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405 OR the United Methodist Church in Fort Benton.
Condolences may be posted online at www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Nov. 1, 2012