Kathleen H. Schweitzer
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HELENA - Kathleen Helen "Kay" (McKernan) Schweitzer, 83, the mother of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, died Sunday, Aug. 21, at a Great Falls hospital, after an accidental fall.

A rosary is at 6 p.m. Aug. 31 at Retz Funeral Home in Helena. Funeral Mass is at 10 a.m. Sept. 1 at the Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, with burial at 4 p.m. next to her husband at Highland Cemetery in Havre.

Ms. Schweitzer was born Sept. 24, 1927, on a farm near Box Elder, Mont., the fourth of five children to Michael and Hannah McKernan. Michael and Hannah moved to America from Ireland in the early 1900s. In addition to Kay, their children were Michael McKernan, deceased; Mary Brady, deceased; Nora Nelson and Patricia Warhank.

In 1946, Kay married Adam Schweitzer in a double wedding with her sister Patricia, who married Adam's good friend Raymond Warhank. Patty and Kay met the young men at a post-World War II dance on the Hi-Line.

After their marriage, Kay and Adam managed the Schweitzer family farm near Gildford, Mont., before moving to Geyser, Mont., in 1954. Kay played an active part in managing the family farm, especially since the 1970s, when the family built the internationally renowned Schweitzer Simmentals. Schweitzer Simmentals produced the first Simmental calf in the United States in 1968 and held the first production Simmental Sale. Schweitzer Simmentals produced award-winning Polled Fullbloods. The Schweitzer Simmental cattle won numerous awards, including: grand champion with a bull named Montana in Argentina, and grand champions in Europe, Australia and Mexico. Her final show was in Fort Worth, Texas, where she won the title of World Championship Bull. Kay was the driving force behind Schweitzer Simmentals; everyone knew that Kay was the one who marketed, groomed and trained the cattle.

Kay also became passionate over world and political events. She organized a group of women to protest the low price of wheat in Great Falls, Mont. Later, many of these same women became the founding members of Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE). She organized a protest to the boycotting of eating meat movement, also held in Great Falls. During the early 1970s, she wrote countless letters to Montana's legislators regarding her political beliefs. She even tried acting when she played Eleanor Roosevelt for a play about First Ladies produced by the Flathead Women's Democratic organization. She became active with the Hibernian Women's organization in Helena, Mont. Kay was a devout Catholic. She was the coordinator for mass at Waterford Retirement facility for the past several years. In her later years, she enjoyed world travel to countries such as Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. Kay was proud that all six of her children attended college and pursued successful careers as doctors, real-estate agents, farmer, rancher, consultants and governor.

Kay is survived by her sisters Nora Nelson of Havre and Pat Warhank of Rudyard; her children Darwin (Sharon) of Oregon; Warren (Ingela) of California, Mike (Jolyn) of Billings, Mont., Brian (Nancy) of Helena, Walter (Cindy) of Helena and Mary of Ohio; 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Adam; two siblings; and one grandchild.

Donations may be made to her grandson's Beau's Catholic order, the Society of our Lady of Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), P.O. Box 149. Robstown, TX 78380.

Condolences may be left online at www.RetzFuneralHome.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 23, 2011.
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9 entries
September 3, 2011
Kathlene was a member of WOTM Chapter 597
in years past. Many of our members remember her fondly. My memories were of our several visit at the Moose Lodge when our conversation were of her grandchildren that I knew when they attended Cross Currents and Whitefish H.S. She loved her family and in turn she was loved by family and many friends.
My condolences to our Govenor and his family.
Carolyn Pfrimmer
August 25, 2011
Darwin, Warren, Mike, Brian, Walter and Mary,
My sympathies to each on your loss of a remarkable Mother. I am sure our Mothers will team up on some active and fun projects to continue the many good times they shared. Condolences, J. P. Mansfield, III
J. P. Mansfield, III
August 24, 2011
Mr. Governor, our deepest condolences to you and yours for the loss of your Mother.
Steve & Patti Azure
August 24, 2011
Governor Schweitzer and family: our family is so sorry about your Mother's passing. What a woman! Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family. Her life was certainly one to celebrate. Margarett Campbell and Warren Means, Poplar, MT.
Margarett Campbell
August 23, 2011
Dear Aunt Nora, Aunt Patty, Cousin Brian, Walter,Mary and all the family. Mick and I have increased our prayers for you and yours. Your mother, sister,aunt and friend filled our hearts with joy and laughter. We will miss her so much. Our hearts are with you all today and always.

Mike and Jeannie McKernan
St Paul Oregon
August 23, 2011
Darwin, Warren, Mike, Brian, Walter & Mary and all your families,
Our hearts and prayers go out to all of you for the loss of your Mother. My Mom just chatted with her at the Geyser 100-Year Reunion. She has joined your father in heaven and is watching over all of you. God Bless you all.
Chriss & Lee (Olson) Payment
August 23, 2011
Gov. Schweitzer and family;
We are very sorry to hear of your loss. May you take comfort knowing that your mother has gone home to be with our creator.
Kim and Rhonda Grindeland
Rhonda Grindeland
August 23, 2011
Walt & family,
We are so sorry to hear of your Mothers passing. Our hearts & prayers go out to all of you.
Cliff & Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
August 23, 2011
To all the families of Kay, I am sorry to hear the loss of your mother, grandmother, she touched many lives and will not be forgotten, May God be with all of you during this time.
Melony Graham, Dunn
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