Frances Louise (Hares) Larson, 92, passed Thursday, March 30, 2023. Her passing was peaceful and covered with her family, prayer, worship music, and compassionate healthcare. Frances was born on December 22, 1930, the middle child to Ivan John “Tobey” and Irma B. Hares in Midwest, WY. Frances had two sisters, Patricia and Donna, who were particularly dear to her. Her father, Tobey’s, work in the oilfield began in Wyoming and continued in southern Montana. The family lived outside of Bridger in an encampment known as “Dry Creek”, a designated living space for the oil company for employees and their families. All the children attended a one-room schoolhouse in the camp, and Frances’ original school desk has remained in the family. Several of her great grandchildren have studied on her desk. Frances’ father installed a playground for the kids as well, complete with an underground swimming pool. He constructed many projects for the kids’ enjoyment-making the outdoors a magical place for 3 generations of children. The camp was their cherished home for over 40 years.
Frances and her sisters learned to play the piano, and became quite proficient, taking lessons for many years. Frances remembered her high school teacher tapping the rhythm of the music on her shoulder while sipping a martini with her other hand. The same piano they learned on is now being played by Frances’ great grandchildren, several of them performing duets with her.
The Hares sisters graduated from Bridger High School, and all went on to college at the University of Montana in Missoula. Frances studied nutrition. She described working hard in her inorganic chemistry lab to pass the class. She was a beloved member of the Tri Delta sorority, and celebrated their 50th graduation anniversary together.
She met John Larson, a business major, during their college years. She was the supervisor in the kitchen where he worked. Frances supervised the kitchen for the next 51 years but in a different setting. They exchanged vows on June 11, 1954 and kept that covenant for 51 years. They shared many joys and weathered their share of challenges together, each one having a testimony of how God miraculously intervened in dark times.
Their life together took them to many locations in Montana, beginning with their first jobs - teaching high school in Fromberg. They spent Frances’ entire salary on a car! They went on to live in Sun River, Great Falls, Conrad, Valier, Libby, and Whitefish. John was a dependable provider and Frances a constant presence in their home. Together, they provided a stable and loving environment for their 4 children.
They were committed to their faith. They were intentional about worshipping as a family and set an example of service in the Lutheran Church. There was never a question about how their family spent Sunday mornings. Frances was the church organist and she accompanied the church choir that John(and some of the kids) sang in. Their love of worship and music is a cherished family legacy. Their children and grandchildren trust the same Savior and have the reassurance that they will have an eternity to worship together.
Frances learned how to make the traditional Norwegian foods that John loved. Frances always had a coffee pot on, and there were many conversations shared at her kitchen table. If your conversation with her was over the phone, you can be sure she took notes, because your life mattered to her.
Larson’s favorite way to spend family time in the mountains. They particularly loved their years of living in Whitefish, and memorable times together camping in Glacier Park. To celebrate that joy, at age 86, Frances and four generations met to camp together at the specific, favorite campsite in the Apgar campground. It was probably the first time she camped without the responsibility of cooking! It was a spectacular time.
She is preceded in death by her husband, John; her parents, Tobey and Irma Hares; her sisters, Patricia Brabec and Donna Blumenthal; her in-laws, Fred and Leone Choate, Hubert Brabec, Roger Larson, and Marcia Larson; her nephews, Ron, Greg, Mark, Gary, and Brian; and niece, Jan.
Survivors include her children, Debbie (Rod) Stine, Patty Larson, David (JoAnna) Larson, and Paul (Rachel) Larson; 12 grandchildren, Mackenzie (Brandon) Ross, Alyssa (Sean) McDevitt, Chris (Chelsey) Stine, Brennan (Randi) Stine, Tricia (Chad) Patterson, Tyler (Natalie) Robinson, Ryan (Lindsey) Riewer, Hayden Larson, Camryn Larson, Sam (Kasi) Vanderwall, Joshua Larson, and Aaron Larson, 21 great grandchildren, soon expecting #22 and #23!
Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, April 1, at 12noon at Pondera Valley Lutheran Church. A reception in the fellowship hall will follow the service.
Memorials can be made to Benefis Healthcare, 1101 26th St So, Great Falls, MT 59405 or Pondera Valley Lutheran Church, 518 So Delaware St, Conrad, MT 59425.