Violet Irene Willis

Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Violet Irene Willis, age 96 passed away peacefully on May 15, 2019 in her home at The Willows in Red Lodge, Montana. She was born in Decker, Montana, on Feb. 14, 1923 to Anna (Ellison) and Sumner Dahl. At the age of 17 Violet met and married the love of her life Olan (Shorty) Willis. They married on May 18, 1940 in Decker, Montana.

Violet and Shorty began married life in Hardin, Montana. Four of their seven children were born there. In 1949 they purchased a ranch at Lower Red Lodge Creek and had a sheep operation. Three more daughters were born and after one more move to Upper Red Lodge Creek the family of nine settled in to ranch life and had a thriving registered Black Angus operation. In addition to being a partner in the ranch operation, wife and mother, Violet cooked at Jackson School for many years. 

In 1978 the couple retired, sold the ranch and built a log home south of Red Lodge. Violet loved being retired and pursued many sports with bowling being her favorite. She was a great bowler and was able to travel cross-country with her team for many tournaments and bowling events. She loved golf, traveling, fishing, snowmobiling and baseball. She was an accomplished artist and seamstress. She loved to entertain and have friends and relatives come to her home for parties, family reunions and lots of games and great food. She was famous for her potato salad and biscuits and gravy. Violet lived life to the fullest with lots of great adventures, accomplishments and hobbies.

Violet and Shorty were active members of the Red Lodge Rodeo Association. They helped build new bleachers at the rodeo grounds and were involved in every rodeo the association hosted. Violet served as Grand Marshall in the 1995 the Home of Champions Red Lodge parade.  She loved riding horses and rode in the Homewood cattle drive that ran from Luther, Montana, to Frannie, Wyoming, for many years.

Violet was preceded in death by her husband Shorty in 1988, infant daughter Anna, son John, son in law Jeff Mann, sister Helen and Evelyn and brother Leo. She is survived by her son Frank, Cowley, Wyoming, and daughters Nancy (Doug) Dupuis, New Port Richey, FL,  Linda Mann, Missoula, Montana, Janice (Dusty) Steinmasel, Baggs, Wyoming, and JoAn (Butch) LaFollette, Greybull, Wyoming, sister in law Dixie Dahl, 17 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren, 5 great-great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Violet would want to be remembered for her great wit and sense of humor and memories made with family and friends. Weep not for me though I have gone into the gentle night. Grieve if you will, but not for long upon my soul’s sweet flight. Please do not dwell upon my death, but celebrate my life.

Memorial services will be held at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers the family would be pleased for donations in her honor to St. Olaf Church Foundation c/o Terry Inderland, 2811 South Gregory Drive, Billings, MT 59102.

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Upcoming Events

  • Monday, September 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 26, 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, September 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, September 27, 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, September 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday 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.