Mary Elizabeth (Bette) Clarke Dunnam, passed from this life on December 3rd, 2007 from natural causes.
Bette graced this world for a few days shy of 86 years. She was a wonderful mother and wife and a friend to all whom she met. She never had a harsh word about anyone. She will be very much missed by her family and all who knew her. Bette was born on the Clarke homestead approximately 20 miles north of Terry, Montana, December 8, 1921, the youngest child of Charles Godfrey Stanley Simeon Clarke (probably best remembered for the builder of Clarkes dam near the old Clarke homestead on Cherry Creek along with his son Guib) and Gertrude Amelia Elizabeth Hayes. She graduated from Terry High School in May 1940 and shortly thereafter was offered a job at Youngs Bar and Cafee (later Bud and Bettes). She worked there until the following May when she and friend, June Abrahamson, rode the bus to Dillon on their way to Seattle. The two worked at Skeet McFarlands Restaurant (Skeet was formerly from Terry) until offered a ride to Seattle by Emma and Frank Smalis who were on their honeymoon.
She met her husband Harold Donald (Don) Dunnam from McKinney, Texas, while working at the Keyport Naval Torpedo Base near Poulsbo, Washington as a lathe operator. They were married June 12, 1943, in Poulsbo. She eventually moved to the Los Angeles area waiting for the war to end and her sailor to come home. After the war and Dons discharge from the US Navy in 1948, she left Southern California with her husband and three month old son Clarke and returned to her beloved Terry where she lived until her death. Her twin sons, Chad and Craig were born in Miles City in 1950.Bette was a housewife until she started working at the Prairie County Library in December 1959, where she worked for 27 years. During those years, there are few children who were not touched by her love and few children who did not touch her heart as well. Many will remember that Bette was instrumental in the great remodel/expansion project of the library many years ago. After the death of Don in June 1964, she started a second job with the U.S. Postal Service in Terry to support herself and her three sons. She retired from both in 1989.
Bette was a lifelong member of the Royal Neighbors of America until the Terry chapter was finally dissolved many years ago. She was active in the Presbyterian Church her entire life and was a regular attendee until her confinement. She was an avid supporter of the Senior Center both in giving service and later in receiving it and was proud of the fact that the Center was located in her late husband’s business building, the old International Harvester dealership. It was a great joy in her life to meet friends there for lunch on the days it was served. And it was her early morning coffee clutch at Bud and Bettes during her working years where she started many, many of her days with coffee and friendly chit chat with friends. The pot was always on at Bettes and she was often the host for her pinochle
club both before and after Dons death. After her husband’s death, she continued her education at the junior college in Miles City and several other classes in various locations in Montana in relation to her library job. She traveled often visiting her sons where ever they happened to be living as well as Dons relatives mostly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and her half brother, Harold Betzner and his wife Bettye, in Oklahoma City. She even managed to get a four week trip to Europe in when her son Clarke was stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1976. The highlight of her trip was her hat purchase in Paris and the subsequent story that went with it. Bette had many, many friends but her best friend in the world was Emma Smalis. It was with the generosity of Emma and husband Frank that she and her friend June made it to the big city of Seattle. This was to start a lifelong friendship. It was a great blow to Bette when Emma passed away several years ago. She had many fond memories of her great friend and the legendary hospitality that Emma offered Bette as well as all others who crossed the threshold of her home. During the last three and one half years of her life, she resided with the Dan and Dawnya Kirkpatrick family in Terry and was given loving care by the entire family. She loved them all and was loved in return for her warmth, easy to get along with ways and positive attitude. What a great blessing it was that she could stay in her town of birth among friends she knew and loved and in a loving family setting. Bette will be long remembered for her warmth and unconditional love for friends and most certainly for the hundreds of birthday cards, anniversary cards, get well cards and just general pick-me-ups she dispatched to friends, neighbors and family over the course of her life and especially her latter years. Few it was that were not the recipients of this generosity, love and thoughtfulness for friends and neighbors.
Bette was preceded in death by her husband Don, mother and father, her brother Stewart, step brother Harold Betzner, sister Jane (Clarke) Walla and brother Guib. She is survived by her half brothers Norman Dean Clarke, Las Vegas and Newell (Rene), Terry, and half sister Nancy (Duane) Morast, Missoula. She is also survived by her son Clarke and wife Malinda (Taos, New Mexico), granddaughters, Chanille and Mikaela, and her twin sons, Chad (Miles City, Montana) and Craig and wife Kay (Oak Harbor, Washington), grandson, Donovan Dunnam, (Oak Harbor) and granddaughters Sacha Dunnam, (Oak Harbor) and Lisa (Joe) Stanley (Great Mills, Maryland) and great-grandson Sean. She is also survived by her nephews Dennis Haughian (Terry), Richard Robert (Dick) Clarke (Terry) and Nelson (Marcy) Walla (Billings, Montana) and nieces Sharon Lash and Betty Jane (Ray) Harwood (Tongue River), Montana.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made instead to the Prairie County Library in her honor. Bette was an avid reader devouring most of the books in the library and loved the service the library gave her community.