“She loved to feed people.” Lola Kelleher was a loving mother, a wonderful spouse, an infinitely patient grandmother, a dear friend, a proud member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and a passionate card player. But above all else, she expressed her affection and care through second and third helpings of coffee and doughnuts, meals, and desserts at the farm, picnics, and church gatherings. From hearty homemade meals to nutritionist-disapproved snacks, no one left hungry.
Lola was the youngest of four children of Cecil and Agnes Brown of Sweet Grass. Born out of a challenging childhood was her deep affection for her siblings, Kay, Vern, and Charlene, all of whom preceded Lola in death. Work and sports brought much stability to her youth. She worked numerous jobs through high school and played on the boys’ varsity basketball team. She remained lifelong friends with several classmates. By her example, she instilled a strong work ethic in her family, often driving grain truck while raising a young family and feeding a large work crew. Her passion for sports, however, fizzled somewhere down the distant genetic line.
Lola Brown met the love of her life, Charles Kelleher, at a box dinner dance in Sweet Grass the fall after her high school graduation. After marrying, they moved south to Vaughn, near Charles’ Irish uncles, where Connie was born. They then moved back north, farming north of Shelby, where Chuck was born. Despite Charles’ musings (with a wink) that “there are farmers who ranch and ranchers who farm, but few do both well,” Lola took pride in caring for cows and calves through subzero nights during calving season. Over the years she provided safe haven for countless cats and chickens, and even one poor saddle cow.
“Family” was a loose term that encompassed neighbors, friends, and those lucky enough to arrive at the farm. She quietly looked in on elderly widows over the years, a natural extension of Lola’s family.
Lola, 84, passed away April 16, 2020 and was preceded in death by her husband, Charles, and one granddaughter, Sarah. She is survived by her children, Connie (Terry) Alme and Chuck Kelleher; 7 grandchildren, Aaron (Erin) Alme, Kristin (Kyle) Zellmer, Brian (Heather) Kelleher, Scott (Dani) Kelleher, Patrick, Katie, and David Kelleher; and 8 great-grandchildren, two of whom are still on the way! She deeply loved her family, friends, church and community. Her generosity truly knew no bounds.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. William Catholic Church in Shelby once it is safe to gather. Memorials are suggested to the American Legion Auxiliary #73, PO Box 215, Kevin, MT 59454, or Shriner’s Hospital in Spokane, C/O Tri-County, PO Box 1206, Cut Bank, MT 59427.
Lola’s presence carries on in all who knew and loved her; she will be greatly missed.