Welcome to the memorial page for

Emma Lee Nicholson

February 2, 1922 ~ May 26, 2017 (age 95)

Hamilton – Emma Lee Nicholson, 95, of Darby/Hamilton, passed away peacefully at Valley View Estates on Friday, May 26, 2017, surrounded by her family.     She was born on Feb. 22, 1922, in Springfield, MO, to the late Perry Dolph & Gertrude Cooper. 

She was raised in Darby, Montana, and married Edward “Bud” Nicholson, the love of her life,  on Nov. 10, 1939.  They moved to Longview, WA, in 1945, where Bud worked as a longshoreman and Emma Lee raised their son, Nick, and gave birth to their daughter, Sharron.  They returned to the Bitterroot Valley in 1949, purchased the Hilltop Café of Darby (Montana Café) in the 1960’s and owned that for many years. They managed the KOA in the early 1970’s after which Emma Lee opened her own bakery at their home in Darby.

Emma Lee loved her family, the Darby Community, baking and telling stories about her wonderful 95 years.  She has been credited with starting the Darby Booster Club in the 1950’s (and still wore her jacket at 95 years old), she went door to door raising money for the Darby Clubhouse and once baked pies for the Darby Library raising $1800 from just one of her pies.  She could be found every Christmas season baking with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This was a love she carried with her until her last days.

Emma Lee was an avid Grizzly supporter her whole life and at age 95 still insisted that all Griz basketball and football games be on if she were in the room.  Emma Lee and Bud never missed a volleyball, basketball, track or softball game of their grand-children’s.  Emma Lee could also frequently be found at her great grandchildren’s sporting events at 90+ years of age.

Emma Lee’s civic mindedness, spunk, and independence was legendary and admired by all who knew her.  She set the bar high and continued to be a role model for her great- grandchildren by encouraging them to be active community members and baking with them to raise money for the Canyon Hideaway Playground in Hamilton. 

Emma Lee is survived by her daughter Sharron Olson of Hamilton; sister-in-law Esther Cooper of Hamilton; daughter-in-law Donna Nicholson of Darby; grandsons Jim (Ann)Else of Oklahoma and Mic (Cindy) Else of Virginia; granddaughters Shelly (Rix) Kordsmeier of Hamilton, Deb (Jack) Gabelhausen of Hamilton, and Stacey (Curtis) Brickley of Hamilton; 12 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Mabel VanAuken and Dorothy Chambers, her brother Lester Cooper, her husband, and her son Nick Nicholson.

A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, June 6, at 2:00 pm, at the Daly-Leach Chapel in Hamilton, with Pastor Thad Butcher officiating. A dessert reception will follow, and then a private family urn placement at Lone Pine Cemetery in Darby.

The family would like to thank Dr. Crews for his many years of caring for our mother/grandmother, and also to Valley View Estates for loving on her over the past 9 months.  The family suggests that flowers and condolences be sent in care of Daly-Leach Chapel, 1010 W. Main Street, Hamilton, MT 59840. 

 Service Information

Celebration of Life
June 6, 2017

2:00 PM
Daly-Leach Chapel
1010 W. Main St.
Hamilton, MT 59840

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