Clarice H. Skillman, 96 of Hamilton passed away peacefully at her home in Hamilton, Saturday, September 14, 2019 in the company of her daughter and special caregiver.
She was born May 5, 1923, in a single room cabin near St. John, North Dakota. She was the first of three children born, to Henry and Elsie King, both from immigrant families settling in the United States.
Clarice’s childhood was spent in North Dakota and Wyoming, moving often as her father struggled through the Great Depression. Her father worked on farms, in North Dakota, mining and logging camps, in Wyoming, and migrant worker camps, when no other work could be found.
By 7th grade the family had moved back to the family homestead near the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota. At age 17, she had dropped out of school to attend beauty school, in Fargo. Toward the end of WWII, Clarice followed friends and her sister to the Seattle area to work as a mechanic’s helper for Boeing Aircraft.
In 1945, Clarice had moved with her family to the Livingston area, to start a new life, ranching in Montana. There, she met and married Fred Skillman, settling down to a life of hardscrabble ranching on Mill Creek Flats, near Chico, Montana. By 1957, they’d had enough and decided was time to move to the promised land of the Bitterroot Valley, ending up with a few acres, in Victor. Fred started a new career, building homes; Clarice finished her last 2 years of school to earn her diploma. She was the first and probably the last 30-something year old student at Victor High School.
Shortly thereafter, she went to work as the all around office manager, receptionist, and nurse for Dr. WR Spencer, in Stevensville. There she met and made friends with people from all over the valley. In 1966, Clarice decided to once again further her education by getting her LPN license. She worked several more years at Missoula hospitals and clinics. Clarice and Fred moved to Stevensville in 1965. Fred passed in 1994. Clarice continued to make Stevensville her home until moving to Hamilton in 2003. She was active in her faith community with the Corvallis Community Church and volunteered at Marcus Daly Hospital.
Clarice was able to live out her final years at home. Thanks to loving attention from her church friends and the wonderful caring and kindness of a small group of caregivers, who have watched over her while attending to her needs, in her home for the last four years. She was eternally grateful for them and the services of Marcus Daly Hospice.
Clarice was a woman of many talents with a gift of resourcefulness, although many times it seemed she could easily find the most difficult and treacherous path, she was equipped with the character and perseverance to usually succeed at whatever, when she put her mind to it.
She is survived by her daughter, Beth from Potomac, Montana; and son, Jerry, from Helena, Montana.
Services will be held 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 18th, at the Corvallis Community Church, 310 Second St. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Corvallis Community Church per Clarice’s wishes.
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