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Carol Perry Van Cleve Kirby

June 13, 1947 September 3, 2021
Carol Perry Van Cleve Kirby
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Obituary for Carol Perry Van Cleve Kirby
Carol Perry Van Cleve Kirby was born in Billings, MT on June 13, 1947 to Paul Ledyard Van Cleve III and Barbara Knudson Van Cleve, their youngest child.  She attended the Settlement school and then went on to Sweet Grass High School, graduating in 1964. She started college at Duchesne in Omaha, NE then transferred to Greeley and received her degree in secondary education/English from MSU-Bozeman. Carol began teaching English at Sweet Grass High School, married John Kirby, and together they raised two daughters, Shannon and Kelly. 

More people knew her as “Buckshot”, the nickname given to her by her dad Spike.  She grew up on the ranch outside of Melville, learning about and loving the land and animals from her parents; she became an excellent horseman.  Carol had a deep connection with and a reverent love for animals – horses, cats and dogs, especially Irish Wolfhounds and Siamese cats.  She was most at home a horseback, riding the country she grew up in and loved so deeply.   Carol rodeoed and was a champion barrel racer.  She was also a proud and accomplished member of the International Side Saddle Organization and was the 1st ISSO instructor west of the Mississippi. 

Carol spent her summers at her family dude ranch, the Lazy K Bar Ranch – she was the 4th generation of the Van Cleve family who opened their home to guests and shared their way of life with them.  She proudly continued the tradition started by her dad – raising fine Quarter Horses with foundation bloodlines.  Carol truly enjoyed sharing her love and way of life with guests from all over the world, guests who became family.   She loved riding with guests over to meet Sam, the stud, and the mares and foals – she just loved sharing it all with people who truly appreciated it.  

From 1987 until 1994, Carol, John and the girls lived in Newport, RI for John’s recall to active duty at the US Naval War College.  While there, they sponsored many foreign Naval families from all over the globe, including India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Honduras, and Morocco.  Carol took the students and their families all under her wing, sharing her home and heart with them, making sure they felt connected and had someone to turn to.  She enjoyed countless meals with them all, shared our culture with them, as they shared their culture with us, and became fast and lifelong friends with these students and their families.  

Over the years, no matter where she was….at the ranch, at the War College or in her hometown of Big Timber, she touched many lives very deeply.  Carol was unconditional in her love, her honesty, and her acceptance.  She was always willing to share her time, her wit and wisdom or to just sit and talk over a cup of coffee.  Carol’s warm heart, easy laugh and willingness to help anyone with anything made her profoundly loved by many.

Carol lived life fully and loved with a big, generous heart.  She led a compassionate, genuine, and very fulfilling life, full of deep connection to family and friends and maintained her deep faith to the end.  She was always willing to lend a helping hand and gave freely and humbly.  The number of lives that she touched over the years, more deeply than she knew, are immeasurable. 

In lieu of flowers, Carol asked that you please send donations to either of two organizations that were very special to her, the Stafford Animal Shelter, 3 Business Park Rd, Livingston, MT 59047 or the Crazy Mountain Museum, PO Box 83, Big Timber, MT 59011.

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Previous Events

Memorial Service




10:00 AM 10/8/2021 10:00:00 AM - 11:30 AM 10/8/2021 11:30:00 AM
St. Joseph's Catholic Church

910 McLeod Street
Big Timber, MT 59011

St. Joseph's Catholic Church
910 McLeod Street Big Timber 59011 MT
United States

Memorial Contribution

Stafford Animal Shelter

3 Business Park Road
Livingston, MT 59047

Crazy Mountain Museum

PO Box 83
Big Timber, MT 59011

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