In the evening hours of April 17, 2017, Clara Berry, 96, passed away peacefully at the McCone Health Center in Circle, Montana.
Clara was born March 23, 1921 in a tar paper shack on the family homestead in southern McCone County to Jacob Bieber and Justina Widmer Bieber. Attending to her birth was a mid-wife, Clara Patterson, whom she was named after. She was a blue baby and they did not expect her to live. Since her dad wanted another boy he nicknamed her “Pete” which stuck with her the rest of her life. Many memorable years were spent growing up with her brother Edwin and sisters Esther, Laura & Helen. She attended Skull Creek School and Brockway High School, graduating in 1939. After graduation, she went to work at the White House in Circle.
On September 1, 1946 she married Harley C. Berry at the E.U.B. Church in Circle. She continued working at the White House and Harley worked for Harold Wangen the first few years of their marriage. In 1947, they bought Pete Rorvik’s farm and moved to the country. On December 28, 1949, their first child Kathleen was born. She was joined a year and a half later by a sister, Sharon. Eight years later came a BIG surprise – daughter #3 was born – Lana. In the 1960’s they expanded their farm operation and bought land east of Brockway.
Mom was a very busy farm wife, raising chickens, gardening and canning a huge amount of produce, beef and chicken; just like any farm wife back in the day. Every Saturday she made many loaves of homemade bread and caramel rolls. She made the best lemon meringue pie ever and many others must have thought so too as many times there were extra chairs pulled up to the table. In the early 80’s Mom and Dad built a new house in Circle and semi-retired. They spent many years traveling to places such as New England, Washington D.C., Branson, and spent several winters in Arizona.
Mom was active in Eastern Star, VFW Ladies Auxiliary, and Brockway Homemakers Club. She was very instrumental in compiling the “Tried & True Favorite Recipes” cookbook and “As It Was Yesterday” a history of the Brockway community. Mom was always busy. Her motto was “Busy hands are happy hands.” Many a day was spent embroidering dish towels and pillowcases, making macrame’ lawn chairs, quilting and other crafts.
Mom entered the McCone Nursing Home in May 2015. She was especially grateful for Patti Wittkopp and the nursing staff there who were so kind to her.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Edwin (Elsie) Bieber and sisters Esther (Morris) Svela, Laura (Robert) Rath and Helen (Robert) Olson. Her husband Harley also preceded her in death in 2008.
Survivors include daughters: Kathleen Pedersen of Wolf Point, MT., Sharon (Richard) Kurtz of Circle, MT, Lana (David) Hovland of Yakima, WA. Grandchildren : Jeri (Robert) Toavs, Rob (Jodi) Pedersen, Tami Sleeth, Jody (Thad) Kohl, Kristi Favard & Kim Rodman. She is also survived by great-grandchildren: David Toavs, Jarett & Jaxson Pedersen, Cody Sleeth, Cameron Sleeth, Cory Sleeth, Amanda Kohl & Trevor Kohl, Jasmym Favard and Tristan Favard. And two great-great grandchildren, twins, R.J. (Robert) & Emi (Emilia) Toavs. and special friend whom Mom thought of as her “fourth daughter” Sharon Jensen.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Circle. Interment will follow in the Riverview Cemetery. Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home of Circle is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the charity of one’s choice.