Elphie passed away on February 20, 2020. She was born January 7, 1925 near Houghton, South Dakota, to Helga and Hieronymus (Rony) Tunby, who eventually grew their family to eight living children, all of whom grew up caring for and sharing with each other. Our mom had a kind, generous, and caring soul.
Elphie graduated from Baker High School and worked as a legal secretary for a Baker law firm. She then married Kenneth D. Briggs, with the goal of creating a healthy and happy home. She thoroughly loved and admired her husband, and they began their married life first in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he was a masonry contractor and she was church secretary at Trinity Lutheran Church. Later, she worked as a secretary at Coeur d’Alene High School, and then was recruited to be the secretary to the administrator of the new Kootenai County Hospital. Family and church were the foundation of their lives. Dancing and having with fun with friends and neighbors, especially with the Sons of Norway, added to their happiness.
In 1967 they moved to Miles City, Montana, and became active members of First Lutheran Church. Mom was a gutsy lady, learning to drive at 40. When Kenneth died at age 48, and she was 46, her church, family, and friends cared and supported her through this tragic time. She worked as secretary to the superintendent of Pine Hills School for Boys, helped at church, and enjoyed dancing at the Drop In Center and Range Rider Museum where she was a Range
Rider Rep. She also served as church council secretary and president of the women’s group. She loved her extended family and helped organize many Tunby family reunions.
While attending dances, she met her second husband, Gene Wood, a rancher from the Volborg/Stacy area who played fiddle at the dances. She married Gene in 1984, moved to Gene’s ranch, and loved her life there with the Wood family and the new friends she made. When Gene died in 1992, she moved back to Miles City, and in 2005, she moved to Billings to live with her daughter ToniAnn, and she once again became very active in the life of her church and traveled as much as she could to visit family. She was able travel to Germany, Scotland, Norway and many national parks.
Elphie is survived by her children, Toni Ann Little, Ruth Franes, and Kenneth Wayne Briggs (Linda), grandchildren Heather Jess (John), Tony Franes (Diana), Kelsey Morello (Matt), Kenneth Sandy Briggs, and six very special great grandchildren; brothers Maurice Tunby and Rolph Tunby, and sister Marie Moe. From Gene’s family, she is survived by Helen Jeane (Walt), Sandra Wood, and Jan Wood, and several step-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, Kenneth Briggs and Gene Wood, her brothers Roy Tunby and Gordon Tunby, her sisters Helen Jensen and Edith Johnson, and by Blanche Wood and Stephen Wood on Gene’s side.
A funeral service was held on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 11:00 am at American Lutheran Church, 5 Lewis Avenue, Billings, Montana, 59101. Inurnment will take place at the Bonnievale Cemetery in Baker, MT on Friday, July 23rd, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the American Lutheran Church in Baker. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
Memorials may be made to American Lutheran Church, Billings, Montana, or to the charity of one’s choice.