BUTTE — Jeaneen Genevieve (Keane) Dougherty died Monday at Big Sky Senior Living following a valiant battle with heart failure. An only child, she was born in Helena on July 5, 1935, to Sarsfield and Florence Keane. She graduated from Cathedral High School in Helena then began her studies that would lead her to her life’s work and passion. After she finished "nurse’s training" at St. James School of Nursing in Butte, she completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Carroll College in Helena. While studying to become a nurse she met a Butte boy, Hugh Dougherty. They fell in love and were married on Aug. 29, 1959. Hugh’s early career with the highway department took them to a variety of small Montana towns during the first few years of marriage. Their five children were born during these years and when Hugh was finally transferred to Butte, they settled into the home on West Broadway Street where she lived for 55 years until she decided her declining health made it too difficult to stay.
Once Jeaneen became a registered nurse, she felt it was important to actively participate in the profession and had only brief departures while her children were young. She would talk about working nights at the Emergency Room at St. James when she was the only nurse on shift. Long before the days of a doctor always being in the ER, she had to decide if a patient’s condition warranted a phone call to ask a sometimes-reluctant doctor to come in. Her persuasive personality usually won out. She was a lifelong advocate for nursing and kept up to date on current trends, which often dismayed her when it seemed nurses had less time for patients. She was proud to reach the status of an Old Nurse and maintained friendships with many of her fellow retired nurses. Her varied experiences allowed her to gain a deep understanding of the human condition and how things worked “in the real world.”
She finished her career at the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and began taking full advantage of the retirement years. Until Hugh’s death in 2004 they traveled and took in every family activity they could. After Hugh died, she continued her love and devotion to family and participated in many events and get-togethers, even when it was terribly difficult for her to get there. She also focused on her well-known passion for her home. Her goal was perfection and she rarely failed. Upon seeing her yard and home many people remarked, without exaggeration, that it looked like a photo shoot from House Beautiful magazine.
“Fiercely independent” barely describes Jeaneen’s level of self-sufficiency. The most painful part of her declining health over the last several months was not being able to do things for herself. Up until the week before her death, she was still shopping (using dictated lists), and visitors to her apartment would find her in the middle of some type of sprucing up.
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Jeaneen was preceded in death by her parents, loving husband of 45 years, sisters-in-law Sister Mary Catherine Dougherty, Margaret Julian, and Barbara Dougherty, and many close cousins. Survivors include her brother-in-law Daniel Dougherty and his nine children, and numerous cousins. She was loved and adored by her children and spouses Sar and Teresa Dougherty of Missoula; Seaneen and Pat Prendergast of Butte; Danette and Bill Melvin of Butte; Barney and Nancy Dougherty of Irvine, California; and Emmett and Michelle Dougherty of Lewsiton, Idaho. She felt blessed to have 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and sorted them into location when referring to a specific family; the “Missoula Kids” SP Dougherty, Ryne Dougherty, his wife Nikki and children Roisin and Liam, and Kevin Dougherty; “Butte Kids” Kiley Prendergast and her daughter Taylor, Bill Prendergast, his daughter Kaya and fiancé Sami Masica and her son JJ, Kerra Melvin and her husband Luke Rona, Hallie Melvin, and Ross Melvin; “California Kids” Bryce Dougherty, Alex Dougherty, and Kyle Dougherty; and “Idaho Kids” Katie Dougherty, Maghan Dougherty, and Micayla Dougherty.
The family would like to acknowledge Dr. Shawna Yates for the negotiation-based partnership she formed with Jeaneen, and neighbors Lynn Dennehy and Lynn Orr who were almost solely responsible for making sure she was safe and able to stay in her home for so many years.
Jeaneen’s Catholic faith sustained her throughout her life and she was an active member of Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick’s parishes. Visitation is Saturday, October 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 am at St. Patrick’s church and Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m.
Jeaneen was generous to those less fortunate than her and hoped that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in her name.