Winifred Anne “Wini” Barnett was born September 10, 1926, to Ted and Louisa Allen. She was born in the family home at Whitlash, built by her grandfather Lester Stott, called Ranchers Cash Store. There she grew up with siblings, Evelyn, Golda and brother, Lester Edwin Allen (later called Ed). The store was also the post office. Her mother, Louisa-Allen- Anderson, served as postmaster for over 46 years. She was the longest serving postmaster in the United States. Wini attended a one-room schoolhouse in Whitlash. School sessions were sometimes all summer long and vacation came when it was snowing too deep to get around. This continued until they sent her to the boarding school in Thompson Falls. She returned home for high school and went to Shelby High School until she graduated.
Life was exciting for Wini on the plains of Northern Montana, in the midst of the Sweet Grass Hills. You were only a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. People went across and back pretty much as they felt like it. They had dances at the local hall, sledding and skating parties. Card parties all helped the winter to pass. As radio was rare and TV wasn’t even invented. She attended the Presbyterian Church, that her grandfather helped build.
Richard Barnett began courting Wini while he was working for his uncle Bill Schaefer, a rancher near Whitlash. The girls would work for locals when school wasn’t in session, to make money for themselves. It was the 30’s and times were tough. World War II started and Rich enlisted in the army. Their courtship was put off until the end of the war. In 1945, he returned home and in 1947 they became officially engaged. Rich and Wini were to marry soon after. The happy couple left for Helena and started a truck garden that flourished until they retired to Arizona.
Wini has been a lifelong artist and her talent really took off after the move. Rich died of a heart attack in the spring of 2001. Wini and Rich didn’t have children but their nieces and nephews were like children to them, and she loved them very much. Wini by this time, was an accomplished artist and taught classes while selling many paintings.
For the last 10 years, she has been living in the Heritage center of Shelby. They have taken excellent care of her. She has enjoyed many outings and activities. Her sister, Evelyn Aiken, joined her at the Heritage until her death in 2019. Wini passed away in her peacefully in her sleep on November 11, 2021. She was 95 years old.
Survivors include her nieces, Charlo Reynolds, Denise Anderson, Bonnie Shaw, Cindy LaSorte, Toni Wehr; nephews, Donnie and Rob Lass; and many cousins. Preceded in death by her husband, Rich Barnett; sisters, Evelyn Aiken and Golda Lass; brother, Ed Allen; and parents.
Visitation will be Wednesday, November 17, from 6 to 8pm at Whitted Funeral Chapel in Shelby. Funeral Service will be Thursday, November 18, at 2pm at Whitlash Church.
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