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Earlene Mae (Roberts) GaudinApril 30, 1927 ~ December 16, 2017 (age 90)
Earlene Mae Roberts Gaudin, a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, special Aunt, friend, and lover of life passed away on Saturday, December 16, 2017 in Hamilton, Montana, due to natural causes at the age of 90 after living a long healthy life. Earlene was born at home in Philipsburg, Montana early in the morning on April 30, 1927 shortly after her parents completed their weekend dance band gig. Her father Earl was so excited about the news of his newborn daughter he boasted to his friend Henry who asked what her name was. Earl proudly announced we named her Earlene Mae. Henry quickly responded why didn’t you call her Late in April? Her name sake always reflected this endearing story, and epitomizes her quick whit and loving humor. Leaving the “Burg” as they fondly remembered it, Earl and Alice and Earlene all returned to the family roots in Victor where her grandparents had homesteaded. Earlene was a 4th generation Bitterrooter, completing her high school years in 1945. Throughout her youth she lived a simple life enduring the struggles of the depression, all the while living rural life to the fullest. From an early age, Earlene was fond of music and was a lover of animals; during her high school years she became an avid tennis player. Following high school, Earlene committed herself to aiding the war effort by traveling to San Francisco to become a stenographer. Upon completing her stenographer training, Earlene was transferred to Olympia, Washington where, as fate would have it, she met a young army soldier who became her partner for life (even though her mother had warned her to not get involved with "those soldiers"). The soldier she fell for was from Convent, Louisiana, named Melvin J. Gaudin.
As the story goes, Earlene was working at the Western Union when a handsome southern gentleman stopped in to send a telegram to his mother in Louisiana. Earlene's eyes hit Mel's and it was love at first sight. Earlene and Mel were happily married on August 30th, 1946 at St. Mary's Mission, in Stevensville, Montana, by Fr. Leonard Jensen; they were one of the last couples married in the original St. Mary’s Mission. Earlene's and Mel's enduring love as husband and wife will carry on as they have been reunited in Heaven.
Early in their married life, Earlene and Mel ventured south to Louisiana in their 1917 Model T Ford, a trip that took 11 days traveling at breakneck speeds of 22 m.p.h. The newlyweds resided in New Orleans for a short time, and while many exciting stories survived the trip, Earlene's and Mel’s love of Montana and family beckoned them back. Earlene worked at the Missoulian and Mel attended the University of Montana. While Mel went on to get his bachelors degree and later his master’s degree it was always recognized that she also completed her education with an HHD (helping husband degree). They resided in Bridger, Montana for six years where their son Michael Earl was born. Earlene longed to return back to the Victor area and so they purchased a 160 acre ranch west of Victor where Earlene tended to 200 head of sheep while Mel taught school in Stevensville. Cheryl Ann was born during this time in 1957. On weekends, they performed with the Roberts - Gaudin Family Orchestra playing dance jobs throughout the Bitterroot Valley. Local Bitterrooters danced to the tapping of Earl’s drums, Alice on the piano, the blues and soul of Mel's trumpet and Earlene’s smooth saxophone sound.
Earlene and Mel transitioned from the sheep ranch to join Earlene’s father and mother where they operated Roberts Realty. Earlene worked as licensed real estate agent together with her father Earl and husband Mel. While in the real estate office she always had the passion to open a gift shop, which she did on the Northside of the real estate building. The C’est Bon Gift shop (meaning it’s good in French) was delightful but not profitable as she sold to her friends and family at her wholesale discount! Earlene and Mel’s children Mike and Cheryl joined the family business and between selling real estate, playing dance band jobs and conducting local auctions they remained active in the community.
Earlene volunteered many hours with the American Cancer Society at the local level coordinating and encouraging every rural route homeowner in Victor to donate to Cancer research and learn the 7 signs of cancer. Earlene's volunteer efforts expanded to serving on the State board for the American Cancer society. Earlene also endeared and loved her faith deeply, she volunteered in her church community, played the organ at St. Mary’s in Stevensville, was a member of the altar society and taught catechism.
As an only child to Earl and Alice one would have thought she grew up with multiple brothers and sisters. She was so giving, never self - centered but always concerned about everyone else. Earlene served as an inspiration to all those she met, with Her great faith in people and family. She never missed saving a good recipe and pasting it to the inside of her cupboard, or putting a friend's or family’s accomplishment on the outside of the refrigerator, clipped with pinking shears. She loved a good box of Russell Stover's and a quick trip to the store to pick up her Power Ball ticket. She would sneak to the raspberry patch early in the morning before Mel would put a stop to it and tell her that it was just too much work anymore. She was home base to the family. She could come up with the best ideas to a make a difference in someone’s life or fund- raising project to build a new grade school from her kitchen sink. Earlene cared for those in life that didn’t have a fair shot and she when she walked into a room she loved everyone in it.
Earlene never missed participating in a parade like Creamery Picnic or Chief Victor Days, or watching one. She loved to fish and one time laid down and cried right on the banks of Sweathouse Creek when the biggest German brown ever slipped off her hook. She always had time to rock a grandchild, (all 5 granddaughters never went to a babysitter), put up the Christmas Nativity in the Pleasant View Drive field, and make a quick batch of southern pralines for someone that needed a little something.
Earlene and Mel, the "Irish" and "Cajun", always enjoyed making the rounds whether it was a run in the Minnie Winnie motorhome or heading south to Jackpot, Nevada to pull a few handles. The pair also traveled to Europe and Nova Scotia and enjoyed visiting Mel’s family in Louisiana, whom Earlene loved dearly.
Earlene is survived by her son, Michael Gaudin (wife, Sherri); daughter, Cheryl Gaudin Smith (husband, Butch); and granddaughters Chelsey Smith Kukuk (husband, Erik, daughter Savannah Mae); Chenelle Smith; Paris Gaudin Dickerson (husband, Drew); Cierra Smith Facey (husband, Mike, daughter Lennon June; and Sedona Gaudin. Additionally, Earlene is survived by cousins, nieces and nephews.
To celebrate a life well lived a Vigil will be Friday, December 22, at 7 pm, at Daly-Leach Memorial Chapel in Hamilton, Montana. A Funeral Mass will be on December 23, at 11 am, at St. Francis Parish with Father Jim Connor and Father Jack Darragh officiating. A private interment will be held immediately after Mass at the Victor cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Victor Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 610, Victor, MT. 59875