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Grace McClurg

January 24, 1917 ~ July 24, 2017

Service: August 03, 2017 1:00 PM
   Location: Sunset Hills Cemetery
Graveside Service: August 03, 2017 1:00 PM
   Location: Sunset Hills Cemetery

Grace Doris (Burtner) McClurg, beloved Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother and Friend passed away July 24, 2017 in Billings, Montana. Grace was born on January 23, 1917 to Loyal H. Burtner and Minnie (Hermsmeier) Burtner at home in Spokane Washington. The story, as Grace told it, was that the doctor didn't report her birth till the 24th of January. Her birthday was always a two-day celebration.

In 1918, Grace nearly died during a flu epidemic that swept the nation and killed millions. After she recovered from her illness her father quit the Northern Pacific Railroad and moved the family to the Eastern Montana to farm and ranch. They lived in a tar paper shack, using newspaper for additional interior insulation, with no running water or plumbing. Grace’s family survived droughts, the Great Depression, broken bones, and sicknesses out on the Montana prairie.

Grace loved school; she finished the 8th grade early so she could stay home and help on the farm. With the onset of the depression, Grace’s sister, Olive, moved from Circle, Montana to work for room and board, in what was then called Duncan District, west of Sheridan, Montana. Grace and Olive’s relatives owned a ranch there and that was where Grace graduated high school in 1935. She made several life-long friends there, especially Bessie Rule.  It was during that time when Grace met the love of her life, Con McClurg Jr., a skinny 6’3” basketball player and trackman.

After graduation, Grace moved to Bozeman to job share with a friend of hers. During her two weeks off she would go back to Sheridan to help her sister, who would become the only phone operator in Sheridan. When World War II broke out Grace and Con decided not to get married right away. Con was stationed in Fort Douglas, Utah when they finally did decide to get married in 1942.

A short time later he was reassigned to Fort Missoula where he had been on the Montana Highway Patrol before. On May 2,1950, their only child was born, Con Michael, in Missoula, and later the Highway Patrol took the family to Glendive, Montana in 1954. In 1955, Con Jr., was transferred to Bozeman and later became Sheriff of Gallatin County. Grace helped at the Gallatin County Jail on Main Street. She helped Con Jr. transport inmates, completed secretarial duties, and prepared meals.

When Con Michael started first grade, Grace went to work for George McKean part-time, working taxes and secretarial duties. She worked for Mr. McKean for 30-some years, later purchasing the business when George retired, continuing it from her home office on N. 10th Ave.

In the 70’s, Grace’s two granddaughters were born. After a short illness in 1980 and regaining his health, Con Jr. purchased a boat and camper much to their granddaughters’ delight. Grace and Con Jr. loved nothing more than spending time camping and fishing with their granddaughters throughout Montana. Con Jr. became ill again in 1984, losing his battle to cancer in May 1985.

Grace then continued to live in the home they had built in 1959. She continued to thrive and work hard supporting her church, bowling, her friends, grandchildren, and cats as the years flew by. She had a tenacity that couldn’t be beat. Grace completed most of her yard work and snow removal until the age of 96. She continued to drive until just after her 99th birthday. She had such determination at her age to do things herself. Her personality and sense of humor will continue to live on through stories her son, Con Michael; her granddaughters, Mandy and Liz; and her great-grandchildren, Ashley Elizabeth and Con Martin, will continue to tell.

After breaking her hip and getting it replaced in March of 2017 she bounced back phenomenally, returning home after six weeks in rehab. In 2017, she also saw her great-granddaughter, Ashley Sinclair, graduate from Bozeman High.  She was also overjoyed to be able to meet her great-grandson, Con Martin, who was born on her 99th birthday….the 23rd of January, 2016.

Grace McClurg is survived by her son, Con Michael McClurg (Sally Chamberlain McClurg); granddaughter, Elizabeth Boles (McClurg); grandson-in-law, Donald Boles; great-granddaughter, Ashley Sinclair; granddaughter, Amanda McClurg; grandson-in-law, Todd Meagher; and great-grandson, Con Meagher.

Graveside Services will be at 1:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 3 at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman near the east entrance off Aylsworth Ave.  A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, PO Box 11390, Bozeman, MT  59719, or Al-Bedoo Shrine Transportation Fund, 1125 Broadwater Ave., Billings, MT 59102.

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