Alice Fern Janssen, age 86, formerly of Coalwood and Miles City, Mont., passed away May 8, 2017, at the Sweetwater Retirement Community in Billings, Mont.
Alice was born April 27, 1931, in Miles City, Mont., the daughter of Orvel L. and E. Lucille (Wildman) Campbell. Alice was raised on the Campbell Ranch on Powder River, which was homesteaded by her grandparents Edward and Eva (Denny) Campbell. She enjoyed growing up around horses and the cowboys who worked on the ranch. As a child, she rode horseback to school, crossing the Powder River. Depending on the season that might mean a shallow, languid stream, a maze of ice chunks and debris pushed by the spring thaw or a roiling flow of gumbo-thickened runoff following a heavy rain. After taking her freshman year via correspondence, Alice, her mother and brother moved to Miles City so she could attend high school. Graduating in 1949, Alice worked as a clerk at Woolworths and later at the Vaughn & Ragsdale department store. She was also employed as an operator with Mountain Bell Telephone, working in the 3-story brick office on Main Street next to the Carnegie Library. Alice met John M. Janssen in 1947. They were married Aug. 29, 1953, in Sheridan, Wyo. Their first home was a 8×40′ Rollohome trailer south of Coalwood, on the old Reverend Duncan place. They built a modern ranch-style home, doing much of the work themselves. Sharing the trailer with two children, a dog and a tricycle, the additional space was much welcomed when it was completed in 1962. They raised three children there: John Roger, Jeri and Dallas.
Besides tending to the house and raising a large garden, Alice was actively involved in Janssen Charolais Ranch: riding horseback, working cattle, driving tractor, running swather, handling the books and cattle registrations and inseminating cows. Along with breeding their own cattle, Alice artificially inseminated milk cows for folks in the surrounding counties. Alice’s own milk cows were bred to top-of-line Jersey sires. Alice’s sourdough biscuits were legendary; she would make a batch to feed folks who dropped by unexpectedly for supper. She enjoyed working with horses, hunting for Indian artifacts, raising stock dogs, drawing and oil painting. Alice and Camille McIntyre designed the cover of Echoing Footsteps, published in 1967. Alice was a member of Eastern Star and the Coalwood Ladies Aid. During the farm crisis of the early 1980s, she served as a volunteer for the Montana Department of Agriculture Farm Ranch Hotline. John and Alice made their home in the pine-covered hills south of Coalwood for 45 years before retiring. In 1997, they moved to Sunday Creek near Miles City, downstream from where L.A. Huffman photographed clerk line 12 on the Old North Mnt. Freight Road.
Alice is survived by John Roger (Lana) of Billings, Mont., and their children John (Ardawna) Denny and Ronna (Sean) Denny; Jeri Lyn (Robert) Dobrowski of Wibaux, Mont./Beach, N.D., and their children Jennifer (Brent) Rogers and Brian Dobrowski; Dallas (Connie) of Waseca, Minn., and their children John and Dillon Janssen; great grandsons Maxwell and Alexander Rogers; sister-in-law Patricia Campbell and her daughters, special nieces of Alice’s, Cassie (Bill) Erickson and Carmen (Charlie) Cavill; brother-in-law Lewis Janssen and his wife Helen. Alice was preceded in death by her husband; parents; brother Kenneth Campbell; daughter-in-law Diane (Embertson) Janssen; grandson Bruce Dobrowski; and dear friend and fellow artist and artifact hunter Camille McIntyre. The family wishes to thank those who made it possible for Alice to stay in her home on Sunday Creek and live independently for as long as she did. She moved to Billings in Nov. 2016, residing at Sweetwater Retirement Community. We couldn’t have found a more beautiful assisted living environment and the staff were exceptional. Bless your hearts!
Cremation has taken place. Inurnment and graveside services will be held on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the Custer County Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Range Riders Museum, 435 I-94 BL, Miles City, MT 59301; rangeridersmuseum.com or Farm Rescue, PO Box 28, Horace, ND 58047; FarmRescue.org. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.