Our mother, grandmother and sister, Billie L. Sterling Knudson, passed away on June 11, 2021. Billie was born on June 27, 1930 to Ulon Brock “Bob” Sterling and Emma Ann Mankameyer in Sheridan, Wyoming. Bob was the Sonnette postmaster and a rancher. Emma was a general store owner at Sonnette, Montana. In 1931, sister Betty Lou was born and Billie now had a sidekick to play with. They worked hard helping on the ranch and at the store as children but still found time to have fun. Billie attended school through the 5th grade in Arvada, Wyoming where she lived with her grandmother, Grace Mankameyer. She attended 6th through 8th grade at the Mitchell School near Sonnette before attending her freshman year of high school in Miles City, Montana, living with JoAnn and Carl Smith, her aunt and uncle. About half way through the year, Billie came back to Broadus to go to school with Betty. In 1946, little sister, Bonnie, came along and Billie stayed home from school for that year to take care of her so her mom could operate the store and post office. Billie returned to school the following year and graduated with Betty.
When Billie was a senior, she did not have a date for the high school prom. Aunt Hazel Palmer suggested she ask Lars Knudson, a 25 year old neighbor who lived 10 miles from the Sonnette Store. Billie asked Lars to go, he said yes! Three years later, on October 20, 1950, Billie and Lars married in Roundup, Montana. To this marriage were born three children: Ann in 1952, Gaye in 1954 and Bea in 1955. Billie raised her children and worked the ranch with Lars for 42 years until she retired to Broadus in 1982. Billie enjoyed visiting with the grandkids and by fixing lunch for 8 grandkids over a span of 30 years during the school years gave her that opportunity. The grandkids and their friends were always welcome at Grandma Billie’s house.
Billie had a great love of sports. Before she married, her goal was to be a Physical Education Teacher. She had the opportunity to enjoy part of that goal when she coached the Broadus Girls Golf Team for 10 years. Her interest in sports extended into watching the grandkids participate in sports throughout their Junior High, High School and College careers. She even made the long trek to Missoula to watch Shawn play basketball for the Griz. Billie could talk football, basketball and golf with the best of them. Bowling, fast pitch softball and golf were other sports she enjoyed playing to the fullest.
Billie loved to dance from her teenage years through her senior years. She shared stories of her and Betty going to country dances with the Melville boys, getting home just in time for her mother to tell them to get the coffee started. Lars and Billie shared their passion for dancing with sisters, Betty & Charles and Bonnie & Dennis.
Billie hosted and attended many card parties over the years. Friday was a favorite day of the week because several family and friends gathered to play Pinochle. She did love playing cards with her friends and especially with her daughters, Bea, Gaye and Ann and sisters, Betty and Bonnie. When she was living in the Powder River Manor, she looked forward to seeing family and friends that came to play cards.
Billie is survived by her children: Ann (Tom) Emmons, Gaye (Sid) Samuelson and Bea Knudson; grandchildren: Brett (Kimber) Emmons, Jacy (Jim) Collins, Shawn Samuelson, Kevin (Sami) Samuelson, Mandy Samuelson (Todd Rambur), Heidi (Cody) Terrett and Cody (Jessica)Samuelson; great grandchildren: Malachi (Savannah) Emmons, Jared (Kylie) Samuelson, Shane (Kola) Samuelson, Addison Rambur, Emma Isaacs, Cale Emmons, Gracie Gali, Kade Samuelson, Kensi Emmons, Caty Emmons, Deacon Rambur, Brock Gali, Landyn Merwin, Karlee Emmons, Sidney Samuelson, Whitney Samuelson and Willow Samuelson, great great grandchildren: Jordyn Samuelson, Blair Samuelson and Barrett Emmons. She is also survived by her sisters, Betty Stabio and Bonnie (Dennis) Lyda. Billie’s husband, parents, great granddaughter, Kenna Emmons and brothers-in-law, Charles Alderman and Charley Stabio preceded her in death.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Powder River Manor.