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HAMILTON - Helen Frances Semmens Madeen. Our mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, partner, friend and care giver died of natural causes on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 while in Hospice care at the Hospice Center of Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital (MDMH). Helen was born April 20, 1921, in a little house off Rickets Road near Hamilton. She was named after her grandmothers, Mary Helen Duffy Bolles and Frances Pender Semmens. As her parents were part-time farmers and part time cooks for logging camps, Helen split time between the Bolles family homestead in Victor and various logging camps in the Bitterroot and Clark Fork.
Growing up Helen was known as “Petey” because when asked her name as a preschooler she answered her Dad’s name but mispronounced Percy Semmens into Petey Semmens. Petey (later just Pete) loved growing up in Victor and loved going to school in her little town. She graduated from Victor High School in 1939. After a year in business college, Helen returned to the Bitterroot. She met Austin Madeen, a Hamilton man, in a logging camp in Conner where he was employed by the U.S Forest Service cruising timber. Their romance resulted in marriage in September, 1941 and they made their first home in Darby. Austin left the USFS and joined the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration service. They were stationed in Glasgow, MT where son, Larry A. Madeen, was born in 1942 and Eastport, ID where son, Ronald E. Madeen, was born in 1946. She also followed Austin during the 2nd World War to his duty stations in Gulfport, MS and Great Lakes, IL from 1943 to 1945. Immigration Service orders settled the Madeen family in Great Falls from 1954 to 1975. While in Great Falls, Helen was a homemaker and active in Cub & Boy Scouts, PTA and other school activities with her sons. She loved basketball and enjoyed rooting for Great Falls High School Bison and later Hamilton Lady Broncs and the Lady Griz. After her children were old enough, Helen was employed as the receptionist for the Grain Terminal Association of Great Falls from 1958 to 1975. During this time she became the voice of GTA and one of their most treasured employees.
In 1975, Austin and Helen both retired and returned to the Bitterroot where they became active members of the Hamilton and Victor communities. She always loved playing “hard nose” pinochle and duplicate bridge and became an accomplished player in both. Helen was a member and leader in the Victor Garden Club for several years. Intent on traveling during retirement, she instead was faced with family crises and responsibilities which she admirably embraced. Austin developed ALS disease in 1984 and quickly required her intense home care until his death at home in August of 1985. Shortly thereafter her oldest son Larry became incapacitated and Helen helped his family care for him nearly every day until his death from emphysema in 1996. Coincidental with Larry’s illness her mother Mae required more and more care and moved into Helen’s house in 1988. Helen cared for her mother at home until a short time before her death in 1997 at the age of 96.
Helen loved her close friends, two children, their spouses, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren dearly and cherished visiting them and doing whatever she could for them.
In her latter years, Helen was an avid bridge player with the Senior Center Duplicate Club, the St. Francis Marathon and the Ladies Marathon clubs. She relished the competition of the Golden Age pinochle group and the community pinochle group at the Sapphire. She was a life member of the Ladies Auxiliary to MDMH. Helen lived completely on her own until she was 90 then resided in independent living at Sapphire Lutheran Home. Sapphire Lutheran Home proved to be a superb retirement home and Helen grew to love living there and the facilities’ professional and caring staff. Helen went into the gentle and loving hands of MDMH Hospice nurses in early May 2018.
Helen was preceded in death by great-grandparents, James and Marie Duffy, who arrived in the Bitterroot via covered wagon around 1880; grandparents, George Nelson Bolles and Mary Helen Duffy Bolles. George was a descendent of Joseph Bolles who immigrated to New England about 1637. George was a master blacksmith whose forge and shop were located in the NE quarter of the present day Victor park. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Percy Semmens and Mae Helen Bolles Semmens. Percy and Mae were logging camp cooks (for up to 40 loggers) in camps all over western Montana and later dairy farmers in Home Acres, Victor. Helen was also preceded in death by her brother, (actual cousin) Dick Bolles; her husband, Austin; son, Larry Austin; and daughter-in-law, Margaret Joyce Jimenez Madeen. She is survived by son Ron, of Hamilton; daughter-in-law, Bonnie McCrossin Madeen Bruggeman (Clint) of Hamilton; grandsons, Paul of Whitefish, Erik (Leslie) Keller, TX, Leon (Michelle) of Missoula, Todd (Becky) of Las Vegas, NV; and six great-grandchildren.
Daly-Leach Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements. Helen’s cremains will be laid to rest in Victor cemetery on August 4, 2018 during a graveside ceremony at 11:00 am for relatives and friends. In lieu of flowers and gifts the family requests those acts of kindness be in the form of donations to the MDMH Hospice Center or to the Ladies Auxiliary to MDMH. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.