Cover photo for Judy Diane Gunderson's Obituary
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1941 Judy 2022

Judy Diane Gunderson

March 26, 1941 — December 12, 2022


Judy Diane Gunderson, 81, passed at her home on Monday, December 12, 2022.

Judy was born in Great Falls March 26, 1941. She was the second of five children born to Douglas and Josephine (Plank) Gunderson. She received her education at the rural Bears Den Grade School, Joplin High School, and Montana Ste College. She was baptized and confirmed at the rural Immanuel Lutheran Church. She was active in Lutheran Children of the Reformation, Sage Creek Pioneers 4-H Club, Lutheran Daughters of the Reformation, Luther League, and Future Homemakers of America. She enjoyed playing piano and organ for her own pleasure and for church services. She especially enjoyed singing in groups with her siblings and cousins-they considered themselves The Plank Family Singers.

She married Albert Pelzl of Miles City on September 10, 1961. In June 1962 they reported directly from college to Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Washington, for two months. They spent the next two months at Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia, while Bert attended Signal School. They spent the next month at Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia, for Airborne Training/Jump School. They spent the next two years stationed at the Army Post in Poitier, France, with the 313th Signal Company. They lived their first year on the French economy at Rue de la Frappier before getting into Military Housing at Camp d Chalon. In her spare time Judy enjoyed being a leader for the Girl Scout Cadets. She and her girls saved for and went on a memorable pilgrimage to Lourdes.

In 1964 Bert extended for an additional year. In November of that year, they were transferred to the 8th Signal Battalion in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Vicki Jo was born in Germany on June 21, 1965. While in Bad Kreuznach Judy taught beginning sewing classes for the Officers Wives Club, in which she was an active member. In May 1966 they returned stateside as civilians and settled in the Los Angeles area. They lived one year in Torrence and then bought a home in Palos Verdes Peninsula. Judy ran a busy daycare from their home. In January 1970 they moved to Modesto, California, and bought a home in Camelot housing development, which was mostly young couples their age. It was within walking distance to the elementary school where Vicki began Kindergarten that fall. Judy trained and worked as a dental assistant and sold Tupperware. In September 1973 they moved to Portland, Oregon, and rented a home in West Slope. Judy worked as a pet food consultant for Blue Mountain Pet Foods. They bought a 32-foot cabin cruiser boat, and both became active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary where Judy was appointed youth chairman. She and a member of the regular Coast Guard taught boating safety assemblies in schools throughout the Portland area for which Judy received both local and state recognition. In September 1975 they moved to Seattle, Washington, and rented at the Bay Shore Apartments on Lake Washington. Judy worked there as the assistant manager and later the full-time manager. After selling their boat, they bought a home and moved to Lake Tapps. The fall of 1976 Judy began working at the Jack Nagel Ski School in Enumclaw

In January 1977 all employees were laid off because of no snow. Judy then went to work at the head office of Seattle First National Bank as supervisor of medical insurance. She and her two clerks were responsible for getting the medical claims in a timely and efficient manner to the Insurance companies. Judy oversaw the President, Vice Presidents, and both short- and long-term disability employees. She was responsible for calculating and getting a check each month to the insurance company and for conducting training for the bank's subsidiaries.

The Pelzl marriage ended in 1979, and in August of that year Judy and Vicki moved to the Gunderson farm/ranch, thirty miles north of Chester, MT. Judy worked there as needed and did much of the cooking for the family and hired help. January 1980 Judy finished the year teaching home ec at Chester High School. That fall she began teaching at the neighboring Sage Creek Hutterite Colony. She taught there until December 20, 1984.

She married Daryl King of Great Falls December 21, 1984. They lived in southwest Great Falls for several years. Judy worked at Frontier Screening for 6 M years. Eventually they bought a home in rural Vaughn and opened a little shop in Vaughn called The Trading Post, where they sold second-hand items and antiques.

About 1990 Judy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when they discovered optic neuritis in her left eye. They sold their home in Vaughn and bought a home in Condon, MT. As her MS progressed Judy ended up in a wheelchair, but depression was not in her vocabulary.

April 2001 Judy returned to Chester and took up residence at the Sweetgrass Lodge to have time with her sister, Robin, whose breast cancer had returned and metastasized.

Judy had been raised in the Lutheran faith. After returning to Chester, she began attending and became a loyal member of the Assembly of God church. She enjoyed her antiques and collection of Hummel and Willow Tree figurines. Her mother had once commented that she had taught her daughter the basics of cooking and then Judy had gone gourmet. Vicki has fond memories of her Viennese steak, Rouladen, and her homemade noodles. In the cookie department, she was renowned for her shortbread and Svenska Toscas cookies. For many years she brought French carrots to the Lodge potlucks.

She was preceded in death by her father in 1977; her mother in 1987; niece, Valerie Gunderson 1988; sister, Robin 2005; brother, Dennis 2007; nephew, Josh O'Neil 2016; brother, Dale in 2018; and ex-husband, Daryl King 2019.

She is survived by her daughter, Vicki of Kalispell; her sister-in-law, Lanea Gunderson of Rudyard; brother, Leonard and Katheryn (Kit) Gunderson of Scottsdale, Arizona; sister-in-law, Jeri Gunderson of the Philippines; and brother-in-law, Kevin O'Neil of Fountain, Colorado; six cousins, thirteen nieces and nephews.

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