MISSOULA - Debra Thatcher Gilcrest, 46, of Missoula, passed away Tuesday, June 16, 2009, at the Community Medical Center Rehabilitaion Unit after a brief bout with cancer.
She was born Nov. 9, 1962, in Missoula to David and Dawn Thatcher. Always an excellent student, and recipient of numerous academic honors and awards, she graduated from Sentinel High School (1981) and Dartmouth College (1985). In 1990, she earned a juris doctorate with high honors from the University of Montana School of Law, where she was an editor of the Public Land Law Review. Her legal practice included a clerkship with the U.S. District Court for the state of Vermont and positions with law firms in Eugene, Ore.; Waukesha, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; and in Missoula, most recently with the Connell Law Firm.
She married David Gilcrest on Aug. 24, 1986, in a ceremony scheduled to allow friends from out of state, especially those on the East Coast, the opportunity to experience the Western Montana Fair and Rodeo. The couple honeymooned in Glacier National Park, the Canadian Rockies and on the beaches of the Olympic Peninsula.
Passionate about music, she was an accomplished vocalist and trombonist. She played regularly with both the Missoula Community Concert Band and the Missoula City Band. During her rehabilitation, she was looking forward to marching again with the University of Montana Alumni Marching Band at Homecoming. Most at home in the natural world, she was also an avid camper, canoeist and birder. She especially enjoyed the time she spent at the family's cabin on the Landers Fork of the Blackfoot River.
A rare intellect and a caring and compassionate friend, mother and companion, she graced the lives of all who knew her.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Gary, a medevac helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War.
Survivors include her husband, David of Missoula; a son, Mackenzie Lee, and daughter, Abigail Marias, of Missoula; her parents, David and Dawn Thatcher; a sister, Sandra Miller of Little Rock, Ark.; a brother, Jeff Thatcher, also of Little Rock, Ark.; and a sister, Becky Meidinger of Cooperstown, N.D.
A family cremation ceremony will be held Friday, June 19, at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula. Her life and spirit will be celebrated at a memorial service in mid-July.
A memorial account to benefit her children is being established by the family. Memorials may also be sent to the Missoula Community Concert Band, P.O. Box 3813, Missoula, MT 59806.