Alma Ruth Bongiani Hedges

Thursday, December 12, 2019
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Alma Ruth Bongiani Hedges passed peacefully into the arms of the Lord, with her loving family by her side, on December 9, 2019. She was 88 years old.

The daughter of two Italian immigrants and the youngest of nine children, Alma was born on September 30, 1931 on her family’s farm in Park City, Montana. She fondly remembered these childhood days, and often told stories about the fun times she spent with her siblings and friends growing up.

Alma joined the United States Army shortly after graduating from high school, and used the opportunity to have adventures around the world while also serving her country. She was also a passionate hair stylist, and after leaving the military, she attended the Anderson School of Beauty Culture in Billings, graduating in 1955. In her later years, Alma used her stylist skills to give buzzcuts and perms to her children and grandchildren (often with mixed results for the person receiving the haircut or perm).

At 25 years old, Alma married her long-time school friend and love Donald Hedges. They were partners in life and love for over 64 years. In order to meet the demands of Don’s rigorous job with the telephone company, the two spent years traveling around Montana, living in many interesting (and not-so-interesting) spots in this state. Eventually they settled permanently in Laurel,

MT, where they raised their five children, several

loyal dogs, and one very cranky cat.

After spending years as a stay-at-home mother, Alma decided to take a job as a cook for Laurel Public Schools, a position she stayed in for 14 years.

In her retirement years, Alma greatly enjoyed getting together with her friends and playing cards, especially pinochle. She was especially excited on the days where she won more than a dollar.

Alma also enjoyed other types of board- and card games and was known to only cheat at Yahtzee occasionally. She was a master Go-Fish player. She also loved spending time with her twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren, and often insisted on making their favorite treats when they came over, even though she claimed that she hated to cook. Alma was notorious for mischievously but good-naturedly teasing people whenever she had the chance and loved when people teased her back. She also bestowed special nicknames, of her own creation, upon many of the most important people in her life, and most of us are stuck with those names for life.

Ultimately, there aren’t enough adequate words to describe the strong and dedicated woman that Alma was. She was the matriarch and a beloved member of our family, a devoted and life-long Catholic, a loving daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, and grandmother, and she will be dearly and deeply missed by all who knew her.  

Alma is preceded in death by her parents, her eight siblings, and many dear friends and family members. She leaves behind her husband Donald Hedges; her five children Dan “Odie” Hedges (Kenya), Rod “Boy” Hedges (Carol), Lori “Anna” Ray, Shelley “Maria” Emry (Ken), and Lisa “Wij-Ann” Shifley (Bryan); 12 grand- children; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, De- cember 18 at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Laurel. A military graveside service will take place at 1 p.m. at the Yellowstone Na- tional Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please con- sider donating to St. John’s United, found at  Condolences for the family may be shared at



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