Frances Isabelle Cole Owen

Frances Isabelle Cole Owen, passed away on Thursday, April 5, at age 95. An inspiration to us all, she lived independently on her ranch in Red Lodge until a month before her death. Although, her family hoped that - like the mountains - she would be there forever.

Franny was born to Catherine and Charles Cole in 1922 and grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota.  She graduated from Northrup High and earned a BA from the University of Minnesota where she was a member of Alpha Phi sorority.  In 1944, she married her childhood sweetheart, William F. Owen, and together they raised a family of five children on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.  Franny was a sailor, skier, tennis player, and an excellent business woman.  While in Minnesota she co-founded Ski Jammers Ski School, which continues to thrive today.  

In 1972, the Owens moved to the ranch on the West Fork of Rock Creek.  Franny loved Red Lodge and threw herself into various enterprises: creating Top Notch Knits with daughter-in-law, Marilyn Owen; selling real estate for C-Mor; developing and subdividing land; and running cattle on her Willow Creek ranch with former Red Lodge resident, Dale Purington.  Dale was her great friend and companion, with whom she hiked, camped, raised quarter horses and went on many adventures over the years. 

In her mid-seventies, she decided to join her artist friends by trying her hand at painting.  She attended Minnesota River Art School and subsequently spent most of her time perfecting her craft.  She enjoyed the comradery of her painting groups, the “Palette Packers” and the “Painted Ladies.”  She was a well-recognized and awarded local artist and supporter and director of the Carbon County Arts Guild.

She spent her last days living with her daughter Catherine where she received loving care from her family.  She will be greatly missed by family and friends. She was preceded in death by her daughter Julia and survived by her children, Bill (Mimi) Owen; Steve (Marilyn) Owen; Catherine Owen; and Tim (Robin) Owen. Also, eleven grandchildren; Andrea; Tom; Kelly; Eric; Tina; Anne; Morgan; Margaret; Beth; Rob; and Stephanie and 13 great-grandchildren; Owen; Samantha; Isabelle, Genevieve; Eliza; Osa; Finn; Cole; Elsie; Charlie; Margaux; Gretchen and Nellie.

The family would like to thank all of Franny’s friends who sent letters and messages to her.  Your words were of great comfort during her last days. At Franny’s request there will be no public service.  Memorials may be sent to Carbon County Arts Guild.


Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 6:30pm
    The Montana Metal Rockfest will feature Zen, Kicking Karma, and Mr. Big with Trixter, July 18-20 at Boyd’s Garage on 7th Street, Red Lodge. The gigs will kick off at 6:30 p.m. each night.  There is no cover charge. Vendors will be on site. For tickets and information call (406) 446-1519. 
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 19, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.