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Colleen E. Marinkovich

ANACONDA – Colleen E. Marinkovich, 80, of Anaconda, passed away at 10:45 a.m. Friday, March 5, 2010. She died in her Missoula home surrounded by family. She approached her eight-year battle with metastatic breast cancer the same way she approached life – with courage, passion, and determination.

She was born Jan. 1, 1930, in Ekalaka, the daughter of John and Susie Elmore. Her mother, Susie, was taken by horse and sleigh from their ranch at Chalk Buttes 15 miles to town where Colleen was born. She lived on the family farm near Ekalaka, where she attended the Foster Country School for her elementary education. She graduated from Carter County High School in 1947.

After high school, Colleen moved to Miles City, to attend the Presentation School of Nursing. She continued her nursing study in Aberdeen (S.D.) College. While on psychiatric nursing training at the Warm Springs State Hospital, she met her future husband, Dan. After a whirlwind romance, they married in August 1950. Because of the school’s policy prohibiting marriage, they kept their matrimony a secret until she graduated in May 1951.

After graduating, Colleen worked as a nurse and started to raise a family. In the 1960s, she decided to go back to college and major in elementary education. She attained an associate of arts degree from Miles Community College and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Montana College, in Billings.

She taught elementary physical education at the junior high school in Miles City until Dan accepted the superintendent of schools position in Anaconda in 1975.

Colleen enjoyed being outdoors and gardening. She always had a beautiful flower garden. She enjoyed watching the deer and other animals in her yard, especially owls on the antenna in the backyard of her Anaconda home. She became quite proficient at trapping moles and was often referred to as the “mole lady.” She helped many people get rid of their moles.

In 2005, Colleen won the title of “the world’s best Rattlesnake Racer” at San Patricio, Texas. She enjoyed playing bridge with her many friends. She also loved to play Mexican Train Dominoes. A favorite pastime was to be pushed in her wheelchair to feed the ducks on the pond near her house, and was an avid birdwatcher.

Colleen loved her family, grandkids, great-grandkids, grand-dogs and grand-cats. She enjoyed people and liked sports, especially watching her growing family participate in them.

She was a member of many organizations. She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution, National Education Association, Montana Education Association, Montana Retired Teachers Association, PEO and the Anaconda Garden Club. She was especially active in the Garden Club and PEO. Colleen and her husband, Dan, loved to travel and did so for years. She loved going to the Final Four men’s basketball tournament for 34 straight years until 2008 when her health stopped them from going. She always watched the Grizzly games both at home and away. She had an outgoing personality, and loved and cared about everyone. She never swore or said a bad word about anyone. She was a member of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church.

Colleen had many animals. Her first horse’s name was Dandy. Her second horse was Blazer, which she often rode to the country school she attended. During the winter, if there was a snowstorm, she would sit facing backward to avoid the wind while the horse took her the five miles home. She had as many grand-dogs and grand-cats as she had grandchildren. A special one was Cotton, the Persian cat.

She will be missed deeply by all who had the honor to know and be loved by her.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Susie, who lived until she was 99.

She is survived by her husband, Daniel; her daughters and their husbands, Danette Shirley (Bob Shirley) of Santa Fe, N.M., Shelley Schafer (friend Greg Pearson) of Anaconda, Jaimie Marinkovich (Perry Whitted) of Durham, N.C., Johnna Kovacich (John Kovacich) of Missoula and Kane Boyce (Pete Boyce) of Oregon City, Ore; grandchildren, Courtney Burks and Jamaica Varner of Denver, Daniel Shirley of Missoula, Susie Schafer of Butte, Jennifer Dodson-Cantiu of Missoula, and Isabella and Katherine Boyce of Oregon City; great-grandchildren Alissa, T.J., Angelina, Landon and Danika.

Funeral services for Colleen will be celebrated at Holy Family Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church, 2100 Continental Drive, Butte, at 11 a.m. Monday, March 15, with Father Russell Radoicich officiating, Interment will follow in the S.H. Sloga Plot of Upper Hill Cemetery in Anaconda.

The evening prayer service will be conducted from the Anaconda chapel of KT Riddle Funeral Homes at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 14. The family will receive friends 5-7 p.m. Sunday, at the funeral home.

The family suggests memorials be made in Colleen’s honor to Anaconda Garden Club, 422 Hickory St., Anaconda, MT 59711; Guardian Oncology & Center for Wellness, 2835 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 301, Missoula, MT 59804; or to a charity of their choice.

Services are under the care of the KT Riddle Funeral Homes in Anaconda.

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