MISSOULA — Florence Elsie Ottenbacher, 93, of Missoula, passed away Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at Village Health Care Center, surrounded by family.
Florence was born Sept. 29, 1924, in Frenchtown Valley to Philias and Florida LaCasse. She was the baby of the family and was raised with her siblings on the family ranch. She started school in a one-room school in Frenchtown and graduated from Frenchtown High School in 1942. She attended Montana State Normal College and graduated in 1944 with a teaching degree. Following her first teaching job at Kalispell, she taught at Lowell Elementary in Missoula.
On July 3, 1948, she married John Ottenbacher. Florence quit teaching to raise their three children, Kenneth, and twins, Michael and Michele. Sadly, John died while the children were still preschool-aged. Florence was fortunate to have a large extended family and friends to assist the raising of her young family. When her children started school, Florence began teaching fourth grade at St. Francis. Even though she was a single parent and working full time, Florence was quite active. Holidays, birthdays, and summers were filled with family gatherings, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and an Easter egg hunt at the Frenchtown ranch. Florence was known for her creativity in making birthday cakes. Every year, her children would have a unique, special cake. Florence also enjoyed doing ceramics and sewing and loved to bowl and garden. She was well known for the beautiful roses at the home where she lived in Missoula for 55 years.
Florence quit teaching elementary school and worked for several years, as a bookkeeper for City Disposal Company owned by the Bauer Family, long-time neighbors and family friends. When her children were in high school, Florence took an accounting job at the University of Montana Controllers Office. She worked there until her retirement in the early 1980s. After retiring, she was an avid golfer, playing at least three times a week and traveling to courses throughout western Montana. Florence spent many hours attending her six grandchildren’s activities, including many games, dance recitals, and school productions and was a special influence in their lives. She also enjoyed surprising her grandchildren with handmade gifts for birthdays and holidays. More recently she enjoyed spending time with her great-grandchildren.
In 2010 Florence moved into the Village Senior Residence. Then in 2012 she moved to the Village Health Care Center. She enjoyed the ice cream desserts and playing bingo and loved the cooking club.
Preceding her in death were her parents; Philias and Florida; husband, John; sisters, Evelyn Steiner, Angelina LaCasse and Regina Dougherty; brothers, Leo, Henry, and Edward LaCasse.
She is survived by her son, Kenneth and his wife Margaret Ottenbacher of Galveston, Texas; son Michael and his wife Julia Ottenbacher of Cedar City, Utah; daughter, Michele and her husband Dave Kratz of Missoula; grandchildren Heather and Allison Ottenbacher, Brian and Jenny Kratz, Taylor and Connor Ottenbacher; grandchildren, Annalise Zilliox, Bobby and Kenny Ottenbacher; numerous nieces and nephews.
Florence was a member of the Christ the King Catholic Church. Memorial donations may be made in her name to Loyola Sacred Heart Academy.
The family would like to thank the staff of the Village Health Care Center who took such compassionate care of Florence, particularly the activities staff.
A Vigil Service will be held at the Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula on Tuesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Missoula. A reception will follow. Burial will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Missoula.
Garden City Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be left at GardenCityFH.com.