Joan Carole George of Belfry, passed away Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at Cedar Wood Villa in Red Lodge. She was 77. Joan was born in Albany, Mo., on April 18, 1936, the daughter of Ernest and Edith (Dill) Shelby. As a young girl, Joan moved with her parents and two sisters, Jeanette and “Jackie”, to Basin, Wyo., where little brother, “Jimmy,” was added to the family. She attended schools in Basin, and on Jan. 23, 1953, Joan married William “Bill” Dean George in Billings. From this union five children were born: Don, Dale, Dean, Verna and Darin. With Bill’s employment as a lineman, the family lived in various communities throughout the Big Horn Basin of Wyo. including Powell, Meeteetsee and Basin, and for a time in Olympia, Washington, before residing for several years in Glendive, Montana. While in Glendive, with full days keeping up a home and raising and chasing a growing family, Joan also operated a cleaning service and worked at the Uptown Motel. She would say her only entertainment back then was visiting over coffee with other mothers, and that her life was nothing like Doris Day’s perfect housewife life on T.V. In 1976, they moved to Fort Peck, where she worked at the Fort Peck Café. In 1979, Bill’s work took them back to Wyoming, to Thermopolis, where they remained for almost 15 years. Joan was employed with J.C. Penney (and a very good customer) until the store closed; she then went to work at Business With Pleasure. She had fun times as a women’s sorority member, and she regularly attended and participated in community events.
Everywhere she lived, friends were made; many became life long. Joan’s priority was always being “Mom” to her children, but it was during the years in Thermopolis that another passion really developed: being a grandmother. As time went on and the number of grandchildren grew, so, too, did the number of photo albums “Grams” filled, afghans she crocheted, impulsive perfect gifts she bought, games she played, books she read, treats she shared, hugs she gave, tears she dried, false threats she made, trips to the park she took, activities she went to, phone calls she dialed, cards she mailed, miles she traveled, so many special memories she created. Her joy was with the kids. It was also during this time Joan endured the saddest days of her life. Joan’s first born, “Donnie,” passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 28, 1990. In 1994, Joan and Bill moved to the country a few miles south of Belfry. Bill passed away on Dec. 1, 1997. Joan remained in the home until shortly before her death, and many gatherings took place there during the span of time. Never to be idle, she periodically worked part time and became very active in the Belfry Booster Club initiating and promoting various projects to benefit the local school.
As effects on health put adjustments in her lifestyle, Joan’s tenacity in character gave her a drive that sometimes gave cause for her family to just wonder. And in recent years, she welcomed another role that gave purpose to get out and go: great-grandmother. Interests Joan enjoyed include reading (murder mysteries were the best), talking (in person or on the phone), eating (enchiladas, daiquiris and “syrimp” were favorites), winning at card games and Aggravation (even if it meant cheating or name calling), gambling (any kind), traveling (anywhere, anyway), going to Billings (anytime, all day), and just spending time with family and friends (always, anyone and everyone).
If the richness in life is measured by love that was given, and received back in return, then Joan George lived her life as a very wealthy woman. She will forever be missed. Joan was preceded in death by her parents; husband Bill; son Donald E. George; sister Jacqueline Marchant on Dec. 27, 2009; brother James A. Shelby on Aug. 18, 2011; and nephew Jay Marchant. She is survived by three sons, Dale (Teri) George of Glendive, Dean (Kim) George of Casper, Wyo., and Darin (Kary) George of Phoenix, Ariz.; daughter Verna Bickford and companion (and special friend to Joan) Ted Nuncio of Denver, Colo.; daughter-in-law Mary George (Paul) McDowell of Sheridan, Wyo.; sister Jeanette Adams of Billings; brother-in-law Jack Marchant of Lovell, Wyo.; two sisters-in-law, Carolyn Shelby of Powell, Wyo., and June George of Bridger; 13 grandchildren, Ian (Alexandra) Ogilvie, Shannon Bucy (Vic) Smith, Shane Bucy, Christy Bickford (Seth) Ebel, Channa George (Tom) Richardson, Shelby George, Jon George, Shaun Bucy, Brooke George, Jerek Bickford, Seth George, Hanna George and Madi George; six great-grandchildren, Alyse, Jon and Leah Ebel, and Shaylynn, Skylar and Abby Smith; numerous relations including Donna Jo Franklin of Powell, Wyo.; and all of the many others who have been touched by Joan’s friendship.
Cremation has taken place. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8 in the multi-purpose room of the Belfry Elementary School. A luncheon will follow immediately after the service. Memorials in Joan’s honor may be made to a charity of choice, or to the Belfry School, Box 210, Belfry, MT 59008 to purchase elementary age storybooks for the library.