Charlene Irene (Orcutt) Carlstad, 76, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Benefis Health System.
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A memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday at O'Connor Funeral Home, 2425 8th Ave. N., Great Falls. Her ashes will be buried in the family plot at the Chester Cemetery at a later date. Rockman Funeral Chapel of Chester handled arrangements.
Charlene was born May 25, 1936, in Sparks, Kan. She was one of eight children born to George and Elaine (Drury) Orcutt. She was baptized as an infant in the Methodist faith. Charlene received her education in Kansas at Wathena High School and graduated in 1955. She met Kenneth H. Carlstad, a North Dakota man who was stationed there in the military. They were married June 18, 1955, at Atchison, Kan. Following his discharge, they moved to Texas for seven years then to Oregon. In 1968, they came to Montana to be near some Carlstad relatives. They made their home in Joplin, where Kenneth ran his own excavation/construction business. Charlene worked diligently as a homemaker and mother of seven. After Ken was forced to retire due to a debilitating asthmatic condition, the couple moved to Lewistown in 1981. Sadly, her husband's condition continued to deteriorate in the ensuing years and Kenneth died June 3, 1985.
Charlene remained in Lewistown, where she cooked for the residents at the Eagles Manor Retirement Lodge until her retirement in 1997. She moved to Richey for the next five years and helped her daughter, Sherry, run a café. In 2004, Charlene moved again, this time to a retirement home in Belt. It was a nice quiet place, but it didn't have near enough action to satisfy Charlene. In 2008, she made her final move to the Portage Retirement Apartments in Great Falls, where she thoroughly enjoyed new friends & activities (i.e., Coffee Chat Club, BINGO, Pizza Nite and Senior Center events). On this past Tuesday (Feb. 12) Charlene drove to an area clinic to check on a close friend. As she exited her car in the parking lot, she suffered acute distress. A good Samaritan assisted her until the ambulance arrived. Charlene was rushed to Benefis, where resuscitative efforts were to no avail.
During their early years in Texas, the Carlstads enjoyed attending live shows at Austin City Limits that featured famous country western groups like Johnny Cash. They loved the music and dancing. During those years of raising their family, they looked forward to frequent fishing and camping adventures.
Charlene liked to stay busy. She was an exceptional baker; her homemade rolls, apple pies, and fried chicken were family favorites. She enjoyed taking long walks and being outdoors. In her quiet time at home she liked to sew. She kept up on current events and never missed the evening news. Just for the fun of it she collected coins, loved to "text," and was an avid "Facebooker." Her family will always remember her as a gentle, loving and devoted woman…"She lived in this world quietly – and she left this world quietly."
She was preceded in death not only by her husband and parents but also by a son, Steven in 1982; a great-grandson, Dillon; and a sister, LuVern Orcutt.
Charlene is survived by two sons, Kenneth (Kathy) Carlstad and Gary (Polly) Carlstad, both of Great Falls; four daughters, Debbie (Rick) Miller of Joplin, Sherry (Rob) Johnson of Richey, Jane Thom (Mike Newton) of Lewistown and Donna (Kevin) Siroky of Billings; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; six siblings, Anna Swan of Benton City, Wash., Mark Orcutt of Troy, Kan., Raymond Orcutt of Wathena, Kan., Helen Sexton of Kansas City, Mo., Shirley Gibson of Wathena, Kan., and Marvin Orcutt of St. Joseph, Mo.; numerous nieces and nephews; and a special friend, Betty Stiner of Great Falls.
Condolences may be posted online at www.gftribune.com/obituaries.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Feb. 15, 2013