Alice Bernadette Brown

Alice Bernadette Brown
Alice Bernadette Brown

Alice Bernadette Brown, longtime resident of Laurel, Montana, passed away in the early morning on July 27, 2017 from complications associated with congestive heart failure. It can truly be said that she fought the good fight, finished the race with grace, and kept the faith until the end. She was a young 94 at the time of her death, and seemed to recognize with peace, in the days and weeks before, that her time was drawing near.
Alice was born on October 6, 1922 in Mecaha Montana, near what was then the confluence of the Musselshell and Missouri rivers, to Henry and Evelyn Gauthier. She was the third oldest of the 10 Gauthier children, two sisters, and seven brothers. Educated until she was 14 in one-room schoolhouses, in 1936, together with her sister, Agnes, Alice boarded out at a convent high school run by the Ursulines in Miles City. The area of the Gauthier farm was to be inundated by the waters of the Fort Peck Dam, so in 1938, the family moved to another farm outside of Absarokee, Montana, on the Stillwater River. Alice attended Absarokee High School and graduated from there in 1940.
She met her future husband, Sigurd Brown, at a dance at White Bird School between Absarokee and Columbus, Montana, in 1939. They were married in 1941, in Columbus. During the years 1941-1943, Alice and Sigurd made their home in Absarokee, Columbus, Billings, and at the Moat mine site. They moved to Laurel in 1943, when Sigurd began to work for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and lived there the remainder of their lives. They saved for a house, and along with other railroading families, the Smiths, the Krolls, and the McCrackens, purchased one at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street in 1951. During the 1950s, Alice worked out of the home for three years at St Vincent Hospital in Billings in addition to her work as homemaker. Alice was, like many of her generation and circumstances, a hard worker, though she also knew how to relax and play, especially in her later years, and to contemplate in quiet moments God’s good world.
Alice and Sigurd were blessed with four children: Ron, Sharon, Bernadette and Michael. Alice took her parenting seriously, but this never got in the way of her loving her children, and grandchildren, with a mother’s love and patience. After her own children were raised, she took to babysitting in her neighborhood, at her parish, St. Anthony’s, and “for the Methodist ladies and their children,” as she put it. She did this for many years, both while Sigurd was alive, but retired, and after he passed away. It is no exaggeration to say that she had a hand in helping raise a good number of children, for decades, in Laurel. The Methodist ladies showed their gratitude by naming the nursery at their church in her honor. Hardly a trip downtown, during her later years, didn’t involve stopping to talk with children she had helped to care for when she was younger. Alice volunteered with many different organizations in Laurel. She loved to read, for example, and was a volunteer librarian at the West School for years; she survived cancer, and worked to help others who faced the same challenge; with her lay Franciscan colleagues, she prayed daily for peace.
Those who knew Alice know she had a strong and abiding Christian faith, and was a committed Catholic. She was an active member of St. Anthony’s from the time she first moved to Laurel until her death, and thought of her fellow parishioners as really a second family. Alice had indomitable spirit, but was humble enough not to take credit for that, believing that each of us depend on God’s grace, for any good we manage to do. Love God, your family and your neighbor, this was the simple creed by which she tried to live.
Alice was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers, Raymond, James, Fred, Richard, Lawrence, and Louis; her sister, Rita; her daughters, Sharon and Bernadette; her son, Ronald; and her husband, Sigurd. She is survived by her sister Agnes, of Fishtail, and brother William, of Absarokee; by her son, Michael (Christina) of Omaha, Nebraska; by her daughter-in-law, June Brown (Columbus, Ohio); and by her 11 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and many friends and fellow travelers, on life’s way. Barbara Fischer of Laurel, mother of six of her grandchildren, has been a very special friend.
Visitation will be at the Smith Funeral Chapel in Laurel from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, August 3. A rosary and wake service will follow, at 7 p.m. St. Anthony’s parish church cannot at present be used, since it is undergoing extensive renovation, so the United Methodists of Laurel have graciously agreed to allow the funeral Mass to be held at their church, just down the street from St. Anthony’s. The United Methodist Church is at 307 West Fourth Street, and the funeral Mass will will be held there, August 4, Friday, at 10 a.m., with interment at the Laurel Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to St. Anthony Catholic Church, 317 W. 7th Street, Laurel, Montana, or to Angela’s Piazza, 420 Grand Avenue, Billings, Montana, 59101, the welcoming place for women in need, founded by the Ursulines.

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Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 12:00pm
    Every Wednesday either at noon or at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org
  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:00pm
    Evening immunization clinic, third Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 10:00am
    Mondays, 10 a.m., Thursdays, 1 p.m., Laurel Senior Center, 720 S. 4th St.
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:00pm
    Thursdays, 6-6:30 p.m., Old Middle School, Room 102
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:00pm
    First & third Thursdays, 6 p.m., at The Crossings, 600 Roundhouse Dr.

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