MISSOULA - Florence Marie McCart Bakke Riel passed away on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at Hunter's Glen Assisted Living Home. Florence was born in Missoula on Jan. 27, 1914, to Ira L. and Anna Iverson McCart. She attended Hawthorne and Willard grade schools and graduated from Missoula County High School in 1932. She received a degree in foreign languages from the University of Montana in 1937.
On April 25, 1936, she married Vincent Bakke, also from Missoula. Florence and Vince bought a home in the Rattlesnake area where Florence lived until moving to Hunter's Glen in 2001. They had five children, Bob, Ken, Barbara, Gary, and Ron. They owned and operated Vince Bakke's Conoco Service Station at the corner of Main and Pattee Streets. Florence was the bookkeeper and during World War II she worked beside her husband pumping gas, greasing cars, and fixing tires. They sold the Conoco Service Station in 1953 and started Vince Bakke Tire Service. Florence continued as the bookkeeper until Vince's death in 1961. Florence, with her sons Bob, Gary and Ron, continued in the tire business until her retirement in 1979. During these years Florence and her sons expanded the business to include three retail stores, a truck shop, and a retread plant.
After retirement, Florence found time to remarry, travel and become a community volunteer. She married James Merrell Riel in 1980.
Florence was involved in numerous civic organizations including the Credit Women's Breakfast Club, Sons of Norway, and Women's Pilot Club. Through her association with RSVP, Florence volunteered over 6,000 hours at various public schools, the University of Montana Library, Missoula Youth Homes, Adventure Cycling, Community Hospital, and the YWCA. The YWCA honored her with a Salute to Excellence award for her many hours of volunteer work. In 1998, Florence was chosen as Senior of the Year from Missoula County for her life's work in community service. Then Gov. Marc Racicot presented Florence her award at a banquet in Great Falls.
Preceding her in death were her two husbands, Vincent Bakke and James Merrell Riel; her parents, Ira and Anna McCart; two brothers, and three sisters. Florence is survived by her four sons, Robert (Arlene) and Gary (Donna) of Missoula, Kenneth (Denise) and Ronald (Debra) of Washington and daughter, Barbara Bakke of Oregon. She is also survived by 12 grandchildren and 13 greatgrandchildren.
Family graveside services are being handled by Garden City Mortuary.