Montana Mae Conell left to join her soulmate on May 25, 2023. After her husband Walt departed nearly 15 months ago, she could no longer be without him. Tana was born on August 24, 1938, to Wesley and Mae Dix. She was the youngest of two daughters.
Tana grew up in the Bitterroot Valley around Darby and Hamilton. Her family moved with her dad's logging jobs. She often lived in homes with no indoor facilities. Her dad built some of their homes near logging sites where he worked. In her junior high years, they moved to Butte where her dad would work in the mines. On her 15th birthday, she got the treat of going down into the Anselmo mine shaft in the skip car. She always remembered how fast the car dropped and how deep down the mine felt.
Tana was always the life of the party. She could carry a room with her loud voice and her bright, beautiful smile. She was always outgoing. She loved to host and plan parties, family reunions, backyard barbecues and holiday gatherings. Christmas was her favorite holiday. She loved Santa, and Walt made sure that every Christmas Santa would leave something in her stocking. Her house was decorated to the hilt and in every nook and cranny. Her home always looked and smelled so good at Christmas time. It's no wonder that her favorite color was red. If you could describe Tana with only one word, it would be "joyous".
Tana met Walt when she was only 15. She married him just 5 days after her 16th birthday on August 29th, 1954. Together they enjoyed camping, fishing, going to the cabin in Avon, bowling, target shooting (where mom outshot Walt...shh...), cards and traveling. They traveled America in an RV. They sometimes flew and even took a cruise or two.
Tana worked in sales for most of her adult life. She loved working with people and setting up sale displays. She worked in dollar stores to department stores before retiring from Sears/Kmart. Someone once said, "Tana is so good at what she does, she could sell freezers to Eskimos!"
Tana’s other great talents and loves were crafts, organizing and gardening. She was not shy about starting new hobbies or projects even if she had never done them before…painting, ceramics, sewing, beading, crocheting and many more. In each home she would design, build and update flowerbeds and gardens. Tana’s gardens were often the highlight of the neighborhood. They consisted of odes to Butte with a hill, small scale Lady of the Rockies and a mine car, or a babbling brook and pond complete with a bridge and statuettes of small children fishing.
Tana was always there for her family and was quick to respond when family members were sick. She would help with moving, cooking, cleaning, painting or gardening. She rarely missed a Homecoming parade for her grandkids. She attended plays, dance showcases and basketball games. A couple of those events were even in the rain. She enjoyed checking out where her grandkids attended college too.
Montana is survived by her daughter Peggy (Rick) Rice, sister Beverly Cummins, grandchildren Michael B. Conell, Eric (Doni Presnell) Rice, Lisa (Nick) Visokey, Marcia (Dale) Manthey, Michelle (Mike) Cheuvront, great grandchildren Michael C. Conell; Morgan (Skyler Frank), Wyatt, Virgil and Jasper Manthey; Addison, Lily, and Juliette Cheuvront; Erica and Kohelbi Rice; and many nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 67 years Walter J. Conell, Jr., son Michael A. Conell, daughter-in-law Georgia Badgett, grandchildren Sean Conell and Sara Rice, brothers-in-law C.L. (Bud) Cummins and R.M. (Bud) Johnson, and sister-in-law Mary Johnson.
Services will be held Monday, June 12, at 11:00am at Fort Harrison Cemetery. A reception at Conell's residence, 3228 Rawhide Ct, Helena, will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are encouraged to charity of donor's choice.