MISSOULA — Chari Rae Schmitz Lipski passed away unexpectedly in her home on May 12, 2018. She was 72 years old...and will be greatly missed.
Born on Oct. 17, 1945, to Charles Schmitz and Ivah Gilbert Schmitz in Seattle, Washington, Chari was a doted upon little girl. Not long after her birth, the family moved to a few different ranches in Montana, where her mother was from. They finally settled on the Diamond Bar 3 Ranch north of Florence in 1953, land the family still owns today. While she had two half brothers 18 years or so older, she basically was an only child whose best friends were her dogs, cats, horses and other ranch animals. She was a natural with all animals and loved the peacefulness of the landscape she roamed.
Her mother owned an accounting office and Chari began in the office at a young age. She graduated from Florence Carlton Grade School and attended Missoula County High School, graduating in 1963. After finishing high school each day, if she didn't have an appointment with a personal shopper at the Merc, she would head to her mom's office and spend hours working until the day wrapped up.
Chari excelled at piano and received a music scholarship to University of Montana. In addition to taking music courses, she took accounting. Not long into her freshman year, a professor challenged her on an accounting method she was using. Her system had yielded the correct answer, but the professor wanted her to use the method he was teaching. Needless to say, her college career ended at the end of the first year as Chari was not going to waste her time doing accounting the long way when she knew a better way.
While working at the accounting office, Chari met her future husband and father of her children. John Edward "Ski" Lipski noticed an attractive older woman trying to make her way across snow covered streets in high heels and a fur jacket. He asked if he could help her and it was Ski who ended up falling, with Ivah making the save. Nonetheless, he stopped into the office one day to thank Ivah and saw Chari. In 1964, Chari and Ski married (divorced in 1984).
In 1969, John Joseph "Joe" Lipski was born. He was the spitting image of Chari. Twenty-one months later, Angela Rae Lipski was born. Both children were showered with love and support their entire lives, given the best that was possible. Chari ran a tight ship and had high expectations without communicating them. However, it was quite clear when a violation occurred. Angie's high school friends called it "The Wrath of Chari," a term Chari found amusing many years later.
Chari and her mom worked side by side at Ivah G. Schmitz Accounting until 1987. Ivah lost her eyesight and Chari decided she'd had enough of the accounting world. From 1987 to 1988, she worked as a clerk in the City Courts department. In 1988, she moved to the Missoula Police Department desk until 2005. She worked at Missoula County 911 from 2001 to 2006, working at both MPD and 911 for a few years. From 2006 to 2014, she worked the front desk of the Missoula County Sheriff's Office.
During the years with the city, Chari met Michael Ginnings, with whom she had 26 wonderful years. Another bright spot in the law enforcement years was all the friendships she made with officers, fellow staff members and anyone else who happened to work in the building. It was clear that she was a mother to many people beyond Angie and Joe. One friend in the department said, "Chari was Google before there was Google." Her sharp mind never dulled. To Chari, everyone's story mattered and she always had time to talk.
Angie talked Chari into quite a few adventures, encouraging Chari to travel to wherever in the world Angie might be. However, the greatest adventure Angie gave Chari was the gift of two enchanting grandchildren in 2013, twins Axel and Annika Johnson. Their bright spirits were matched by Chari's. She reveled in their excitement for life and they loved her with all their hearts. She was up for all activities with them, whether at the lake, watching ballet or soccer or swimming, cooking, taking walks or reading. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother.
Chari is preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Ivah Schmitz (Holloway) and her partner Michael Ginnings. She is survived by her son, John Joseph, of Bradenton, Florida, and daughter, Angela Rae (Dean Johnson), and grandchildren, Axel and Annika, all of Missoula.
A memorial service will be held for Chari at Garden City Funeral Home on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018, at 2 p.m. Immediately following, a reception will occur on site. In lieu of flowers, any donations can be made in her name to the Missoula County Law Enforcement Youth Camp.