Jennie Lee Flaget was born in Ethridge on March 3, 1921, to John Olson Flaget and Guri (Gina) Boe Flaget. She died March 27, 2022, 24 days after her 101st birthday anniversary.
Funeral services will be Thursday, March 31, at 1:00pm at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Reception at the church will follow burial in Crown Hill Cemetery.
Jennie’s parents migrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Norway. They didn’t come to the U. S. together; instead, they met in Minnesota where she was visiting her sister and he came to work at that farm. As they followed John’s jobs across Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, Gina Flaget bore 10 children of which Jennie was number six.
Jennie started school in that tiny town of Ethridge at the age of five and eventually her parents moved to the Cut Bank area. In her musings about her life, she said that she met Marvin Johnson when she was 14 years old at a country dance. That may sound young to us now, but in those days of large families, 14 was not as young as today’s 14-year-old. She had lived through the poverty of the Great Depression and understood the value of work. When she was fifteen and her freshman year of high school completed, Marvin asked her to marry him. She said she told him that he would have to get permission from her parents. He immediately strolled out to the garden to ask permission and they gave their blessing. On a trip to Havre for parts soon after his proposal, they stopped in Chester on the way in July of 1936 and said their vows in front of her brother Johnnie and Marvin’s brother Warden. Starting with very little, they built a family and life together - from a small Seville farm to a large cattle ranch north of Duck Lake and Goose Lake.
On New Year's Eve 1938, Jennie had her first child, Gerald. She welcomed motherhood and she learned to cook, clean and help on the farm. Soon, she and Marvin added Neil, Nancy, and Ralph and that seemed to complete the family - until those children started adding more to her family through marriage and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In 1972 she got up one morning in February to discover she had lost the love of her life when Marvin quietly died on their ranch of his dreams. She, being the strong woman she was, quietly moved to Cut Bank, and bought a house and left the ranch for sons to run. She bought a gift store on Main Street in town and soon was meeting the people of town as she helped them pick the gifts they came to buy. Thus, she learned about town life, and she became a member of card clubs, social groups and the Lutheran Church.
On a visit to her daughter Nancy’s, she met an old friend that she and Marvin had known from their days of farming and ranching. She and Gordon Maston renewed their friendship and soon he was making trips to Cut Bank to see her. In March of 1979, they married in the Lutheran Church in Cut Bank and made their home together in Cut Bank. Her life with Gordon was completely different from the farm/ranch life she experienced in her first marriage. She and Gordon traveled, they hosted many friends in their home; they played every kind of card game they could find to learn; they joined the Sons of Norway; and participated in activities there; they learned to square dance; and he built a special room in their house so Jennie could paint. He took her to painting lessons, a reunion of over 1200 of her family in Norway, camping, visiting relatives and cruises everywhere. She lost Gordon in June of 1996.
Jennie loved to play cards and worked at winning. She didn’t like to lose and felt no remorse as she won your last dime or penny. Her talents were many. She sang as she baked when she felt no one was listening. She wrote poetry. She painted with oils and watercolors and did pencil art. She could quilt by hand and made many beauties to share with family. She was a master of all kinds of needles, threads and yarns. There wasn’t a craft she could not learn and coming from a family of 10 creative people, it was a constant competition to see who could bring the next craft that brought out the “ooos” and “aaahhhs” of the family get togethers. She learned early in marriage how to make breads, the best cinnamon rolls ever, bake all the cakes, cookies and pies that she set on the table for dinners and desserts. Her favorite description was “yummy” and this culinary art was also a family competition amongst her sisters and sisters-in-law. Family gatherings were calorie rich.
Jennie was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Johnnie and Ole Flaget; sisters, Mollie Gibson, Josie Brekke, Elsie Ward, Cliela Presnell and Helen Johnson; son Neil Johnson; great-grandson, Brenden Johnson; and great-great grandsons Tyler Elliott and Chamomile Gonzales-McCord.
Jennie is survived by brother, Carl Flaget; sister, Mary Leonard; sons, Gerald “Jerry” (Liane) Johnson, and Ralph (Raenell) Johnson; daughter, Nancy (Don) Kraft; daughter-in-law, Jetta Johnson; grandsons, Scott (Phyllis) Johnson, Neil -JR-(Jennifer) Johnson, Bret (Lyndie) Kraft, Thane (Nancy) Johnson, Jeff (Jennifer) Kraft, Shawn (Ami) Kraft, Roman (Carrie) Johnson; granddaughters, Jeri Johnson Elliott, Barbara Johnson, and Raylee (Blaine) Suta; many beloved great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
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