Music 11

Verna Marie (Howerton) Molenda

May 21, 1945 ~ August 6, 2021 (age 76)


Verna Marie Molenda went home to Our Lord on Friday, August 6, 2021 at 76 years young.  She was born on May 21, 1945 and the first few years of her life have two versions that brought her to be a young mother at 16.  She married young which added a beloved son to our lives as well as two more babies to raise.  She raised these 4 small children in very rustic homes most without running water, indoor plumbing or electricity. Two of these loving homes were near Bellevue, Colorado and Stillwell, Oklahoma. In 1968 she left that world behind and moved to Montana to begin anew. She met and fell in love with William “Bill” Molenda and they were married in Hamilton on March 26, 1970 after just 3 months of dating.  Last summer they were able to celebrate their 50th with close family and many friends.

Verna was very involved with the Community and she wrote many poems and letters to the editor over the years.  One of her letters coined the now famous “Darbarian” phrase and she had bumper stickers made with “Proud to be a Darbarian.” She was on the Bitterroot Community Federal Credit Union Board and was instrumental in the Darby Library summer reading program as well as reading to the Darby elementary students.  Verna owned and operated her own adult foster care home for many years just south of Darby and cooked for Council on Aging and delivered Meals on Wheels.  She wrote and performed Cowboy Poetry for many years.

Verna raised a beautiful garden and canned the most fabulous canned goods.  She was known for her bread baking and cinnamon rolls.  Verna had a passion for Bluegrass music, first following Bill and later learned to play autoharp then the dobro, becoming one of the Darby Sireens and made a solo album of her own.  It was at one of the music festivals that she met a Reiki Master who immediately recognized her healing powers.  Verna became a Reiki Master Teacher in 2006.  She was able to bring much peace and healing to friends and animals near and far.  Verna was known for her special connections with all animals.  She was just special all the way around!  In addition to her four kids she was known as “Mom” and ‘Aunt Verna” to many others.  Verna was a positive influence to hundreds and her sense of humor is legendary.

Verna is survived by her loving husband of 51 years, Bill Molenda, her amazing children, Earl Shewmake, Jeniece Howerton-Palmer, Marvin Shewmake and Grace Shewmake, her sisters Ruby Shields and Toots Krumdick, Brother-in-law Dwight Bristol, Grandchildren; Eric Shewmake, Chad Shewmake, Amy Engelhardt, Ronald Vincent, Levi Vincent, and Samantha Fonken.  Great Grandchildren; Presley, Rayce, Ripp, Alex, Nathanial, Chance, Avi, Milo, Talon, Noland, Luca, Landen, Ross, and Ariana and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her siblings; Lynn Howerton, Tiny Bristol and Joyce Anderson, and by three grandsons; Branden Vincent, Todd Shewmake, and James Howerton.

A visitation will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, August 13, 2021 at the Daly-Leach Chapel.  A Celebration of Verna’s Life will be held on Friday, September 17th at 11:00 a.m., at the Darby Clubhouse. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Verna Marie (Howerton) Molenda, please visit our floral store.


August 13, 2021

3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Daly-Leach Chapel
1010 W. Main St.
Hamilton, MT 59840

Celebration of Life
September 17, 2021

11:00 AM
Darby Community Clubhouse
106 N. Main St.
Darby, MT 59829

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