MISSOULA — Kim Mansch took her beautiful smile and wonderful bright spirit to meet with other angels in Heaven on Jan. 1, 2019. She passed while resting comfortably at home in Missoula, surrounded by her loving family and secure in the faith that sustained her.
Kimberly Sue Novak was born on July 7, 1966, to Joseph and Elaine Novak in Missoula. She was the apple of her father’s eye and was named after his favorite actress. She attended Jefferson Grade School and graduated from Sentinel High School in 1984 with near-perfect grades. She earned varsity letters in basketball and played with her team in the state tournament her senior year. After graduation she took a trip to Hawaii with her friend Gail, using the money she had saved from working at the Lily Restaurant. Kim enrolled at the University of Montana and studied accounting. She graduated with highest honors in 1988 and immediately began studying for the CPA exam, which she passed on the first try.
Kim inherited a strong work ethic from her parents. Throughout her college years she worked nights at Missoula Community Hospital in the patient accounts department. She then worked for several years as the office manager and accountant for Jones Equipment in Missoula. In 1993 she began work as the accounting supervisor for the Western Montana Clinic. After five years at WMC she became the chief accountant for the City of Missoula. In 2002 she became finance director at Partnership Health Center. In 2008 she became PHC’s executive director, a position she held until ill health forced her to retire in 2016.
Under her remarkable leadership PHC flourished. Kim oversaw increasingly expanding services in medical, dental, pharmacy, and behavioral health. PHC became the largest community health center in Montana, serving over 15,000 patients with nearly 200 employees. She oversaw large capital building projects including the Creamery building, the Lowell School site, and many extensive renovations. Under the direction of Kim and her leadership team PHC also became the clinical home of the Western Montana Family Practice residency program, which brought twenty or more new resident physicians to our region every year; pharmacy services expanded with the first robotic pharmacy dispensary; two satellite centers in Seeley Lake and Superior were established; services to the homeless were expanded in the new Poverello Center, and many others. All of these innovations and programs greatly improved community health and made Missoula and Montana better places to live. Kim was recognized nationally for her work: she received the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Excellence award five times, and the National Association of Community Health Centers Leadership award twice.
Kim was dedicated to improving the health of the disadvantaged and underserved, not only through her work, but through her volunteer service. She served as president of the Montana Primary Care Association. She was a member of the Montana Healthcare Workforce Advisory Committee, and served as a board member of St. Patrick Hospital, and the Family Promise Homeless Program. She regularly participated in Relay for Life. She also was a member of the Board of Directors for the Montana Innocence Project. She was a member of several national health care committees, including the Region VIII Veterans Workforce Steering Committee, and also worked as a Federal Grant and Site Reviewer for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Care.
For 15 years Kim also worked as a professor for the University of Phoenix online, where she developed the governmental, nonprofit, financial, intermediate, advanced, and management accounting curriculums. She taught students from around the world, and there was always a waiting list to get into her classes. A year ago she was honored to receive the University’s distinguished service award.
For all of her professional achievements, Kim was most proud to be a loving wife and mother. She met Larry in the summer of 1986, and they married a year later. Throughout their joyous 31-year marriage she encouraged and supported all of his projects and endeavors. Together they raised four beautiful and accomplished children: Bethany, Lincoln, Abigail and Madison. Kim took an active role in all of their activities. She passed the best of her many qualities on to them: kindness, dedication, service and faith. All four children competed in college athletics. More important, due in large part to their mother’s inspiration, they all earned college degrees and have gone on to successful and rewarding careers. She was so very proud of them and loved them with all her heart — and that love was returned to her every day.
Kim was an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where she enjoyed worship services with her family and many friends. Her faith was quiet but very strong. She loved taking walks, on the trail or at the mall. She liked baseball and football and country music. She enjoyed attending concerts and shopping and dining in downtown Missoula. She loved to travel, and particularly enjoyed visiting Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and London, among many other places. She enjoyed annual trips to Yellowstone National Park. She liked to float the river on warm sunny days. She loved Christmas and the Fourth of July. She liked to work in the garden and was an accomplished baker; her cupcakes and cookies were legendary among her kids and their friends. She spoiled her puppies Getty, Wrigley and Dolley. She loved watching the seasons change. She loved all things Disney, and particularly enjoyed planning vacation itineraries to Disneyland or Disney World for her family and friends. She was good-natured, loving, considerate, compassionate, generous and kind. She had an easy smile and a warm heart. Her beautiful green eyes sparkled when she laughed, and she laughed all the time. She was a true friend to all who knew her. She was one of Missoula’s shining stars.
Kim was preceded in death by her father Joseph and brother Brian. She is survived by her loving husband Larry, daughter Bethany (Jake) of Lakeville, Minnesota; son Lincoln of Missoula; daughter Abigail of Boise, Idaho: and daughter Madison (Mitchell) of Ronan. She is also survived by her mother Elaine of Missoula, brother Donald, and brother Brad (Cathy) of Seeley Lake, along with numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Kim’s family would like to thank all the many friends and relatives who supported her and offered prayers and good wishes during her illness. She loved all of you. We would also like to thank doctors Mack, Menendez and Thomas, and the wonderful and caring staff of nurses and other professionals at St. Patrick Hospital. We are also very appreciative of the invaluable hospice support provided by Partners in Home Care.
A memorial service celebrating Kim’s life will be held Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Missoula. The family suggests any gifts be given in her name to Partnership Health Center or the American Brain Tumor Association.