MISSOULA – Our mom, Mary Pauli, joined our dad and little brother in the folds of God’s robe on Saturday, May Day, 2010. This test of will called life ended two days before her 92nd birthday. She left this world to “join the gang that got away from me.”
Her story of determination begins on May 3, 1918, at her Uncle Billy’s homestead house south of Cottonwood, Idaho. She survived the birthing that her infant twin sister Joanna could not and returned to the family homestead east of Brady below the West Knee with her parents, Irish immigrants Mike and Kate Hanley. Brothers John and Barney would join the family at this place before it was lost from years of not proving out.
They moved to a house in Brady close by where the water tower now stands. When Mary was 14, her dad passed a way in his sleep after having just moved his family to Conrad. In 1936, she graduated from Conrad High School and then helped the Dominican sisters at St. Mary’s Hospital for a year until 1937, when she entered nurse’s training at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls.
She admitted being tricked by the sisters into becoming a nurse because they would let her help with everything right up to the procedures, then close the door to her. She decided she wanted to be on the other side of that door. She graduated nurse’s training in 1940 and was very happy being a nurse back at St. Mary’s in Conrad, for $65 a month. A brief service in the Army Nurses Corps during 1945-46 ensued and then it was back to Conrad, her job, her mother and brothers.
Conrad’s Whoop Up Trail Days of 1946 proved to be a matchmaker for Mary as she met her husband of 54 years, Bill Pauli from Valier. They married on Sept. 1, 1947, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church when she wore a wedding dress she fashioned from the silk of Bill’s paratrooper’s parachute. Short stays in Shelby, Williams and Valier preceded a lengthier stay in Dupuyer where she helped her husband with his farmer’s co-op and tended to their family of five sons. While living in the remoteness of 1950s Front Range territory, she was certified as a pattern designer and dressmaker through a correspondence course. She continued to tailor her wardrobe for the next 30 years while also making many garments for her husband and boys.
The Pauli family moved to Missoula in 1958 where the opportunities for parochial education and college degrees could be found for her sons. Mary’s Irish spirit OK’d the purchase of the Shamrock Motel as the first of many business ventures she and Bill would engage in Missoula. She also resumed nursing, first at Hillside Manor, then at private practice doctor’s offices. She particularly enjoyed the practice of Dr. C. P. Brooke. She maintained an active nursing license for 42 years.
These years in Missoula were filled with family and friends for Mary. She was a house plant gardener favoring African Violets, Begonias and Philodendrons. She had many years of singing with her music club, being a church lady with the Altar Society at St. Anthony’s Parish, volunteering at the monthly Red Cross Blood drives, sewing, knitting, baking, canning and once a month looking for the cards to “shoot the Moon” during pinochle parties. She professed to not enjoy cooking meals except for holidays when she could set the table with her china, crystal and silverware. But cook she did, thousands of meals, for her husband and sons; usually prefaced by the order to, “get in here and eat while its hot!” We were eating low fat, low salt and fresh foods 50 years before we knew we should.
After Bill’s retirement in 1982, they became Montana snowbirds for seven months each year to Lake Havasu City, Ariz. She started walking and enjoying the winter sunshine and vistas found there, but not the wind, never the wind. Back in Montana they visited family, friends and grandkids throughout the summer and early fall. Digging for Montana sapphires also beckoned them to camp and relax in the splendor that is Montana. A highlight during these times was a 40th wedding anniversary trip to Ireland and the village of her mom, Kate Flanagan, in County Roscommon. She also watched her husband Bill inch his way out on his back to kiss the Blarney Stone! Other highlights for mom were the big party for her 90th birthday, which she said it was the first birthday party anyone had ever thrown just for her and the birth of her great grandson Arlo.
Anyone who knew our mom knows she was plain spoken and suffered no fools. Her circle of trust was tight and she was determined to prevail in the face of any circumstance presented her. Her credos as we grew up were, “you don’t have to like it to do it” and “you don’t always get the things you want.” We were always pushed to exceed our own limits and to develop high self-esteem. Not always pleasant things were said to be heard but we can thank her for this instilled character.
Mary was preceded in passing by her newborn twin sister Joanna; parents Mike and Kate; brothers John and Barney; husband Bill and youngest son Timmy. She is survived by son William John, his wife Jan and their sons Jacob and Jeremy; son Michael Thomas and his kids Allison, her husband Jacob and great-grandson Arlo, and Jordon; son Patrick Joseph, his wife Cheryl and their children Sky, Yve and her husband Ian, and Duke; son Eugene Loras, as well as sister-in-law Kathleen Kuka. She also has many nieces and nephews who have memories of their aunt Mary.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on Friday, May 14, at 1 p.m. A lunch reception will follow in the church’s assembly hall after the mass. Garden City Funeral Home is handling the arrangements and condolences may be sent to gardencity@missoula
funeralhomes.com. Finally, our family would like to thank Dr. Susan Selbach and nurse Jan at the VA for years of caring and the wonderful staff at Village Health Care for taking such good care of our mom while she made the final jaunt of her earthly journey for her heavenly home. Memorials are suggested to the American Red Cross.