“Well done good and faithful servant! Come and share in your master’s happiness!”
If ever there was a good and faithful servant, it was our dear mom, Lois. Mom stepped out of this life and into the open and loving arms of her savior early on the morning of January 2, 2023, following complications from surgery. Grief is the price we pay for love and we are grieving, but knowing this good woman, who worked so hard for so many years is at rest in paradise, helps soothe our broken hearts.
Lois Ruth Balducke was born to Frank and Leona Balducke November 27, 1934 in Fryburg, North Dakota. One of nine children, she spent her formative years on the family ranch southwest of Sidney, Montana. From the time she could toddle around, she chipped in with the chores and relished her life as a ranch kid. She told us many stories of the adventures they had over the years, how she loved to ride her horse Dynamite and how hard her mom and dad worked. Grandma and Grandpa instilled that strong work ethic in each of their children. Mom’s first waitressing job was in Sidney at the Met Café but most remember her from The Crossroads, The Red Rock Supper Club and the Hole-in-the-Wall in Miles City. She also worked in dietetics at the VA Hospital in Miles City before reluctantly retiring in May 2013 at the age of 78. Miles City was her adopted hometown. It’s where she and our dad Scotty started our family after they were married November 21, 1959.
Mom truly had a servant’s heart, whether it was taking good care of her customers, her children or her brothers and sisters, every need was tended to. She was an excellent cook and baker and had quite the green thumb. Mom’s workload increased substantially once she and dad divorced and she worked two, even three jobs at times. There were some very lean and difficult years but that work ethic, combined with her faith in God and the belief that better times were ahead, kept her going.
Once we all moved out of the house to start our own lives, mom could relax a bit. She still worked 60 plus hours a week but found new joy in being a grandmother. She was thrilled to become a great-grandmother and trips to Billings included those sweet babies in her arms and on her lap. Her smile, delight and laughter warmed our hearts.
We were grateful for any and all opportunities to make memories with mom. Special memories were made for her 75th birthday when we took her to Italy to see where her father was born and to meet cousins she had never met. She also enjoyed a fall foliage tour to New England and a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Our mom was so many things. A doting daughter, a selfless sister, a gracious mother-in-law, a playful and proud grandma, a humble soul. She loved and was so loved by her family and all who knew her. She touched many people with her genuine smile and gentle spirit.
Mom is survived by her children, Noni (Aaron) Ramage of Billings, Jeff (Ashley) McRae of Belgrade and Becky (Mitch) Hillier of Billings, grandchildren Ryan, Casey (Arieanna) and Kim Ramage and Garret (Wyatt) and McKenna Hillier, great- grandchildren Avery Jane, Margo June, Cal James and Darby Jo Ramage, her sisters Louise Rehbein of Sidney, Francie Mackin of Miles City and brother Billy of Miles City, as well as many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Leona, a brother, Joseph Frank who died in infancy, her sisters Maebelle Staggs, Myrtle Brown, and Mary Thrams and brothers Benny and Tony.
Mom was very practical and did not want a funeral, but we will have a visitation in Miles City at a later date, before she is laid to rest next to her mom and dad in Sidney.
We know mom would love it if you shared your smile with a stranger, played a good-natured practical joke and tipped your waiter or waitress generously, in her memory.