Her siblings were Clyde E (Lydia), George (Laurie), Charles (Margie), Clarence (Hilda), Fanny Alberta (Charles Perkins), Paula (Penny Adams), Joyce, (Gilbert Cook) and James (Barbara).
Mom talked a lot about growing up in Red Lodge, delivering milk at 4 in the morning, getting a Finnish sweat bath from a lady that beat her with rushes, fishing in Rock Creek and her friend Goldie Hotchkish, the fun they had and pranks they pulled. The 1940 census shows George and Lillian and their family were living near McLeod, MT.
Grayce graduated from Senior High in Billings. She wanted to go to Seattle to learn telegraphy but was told “no” by her older brother. So, she worked for the railroad, calling out workers, running errands. At that time her folks were living out of Laurel near where the horses are by the river.
The war was on, so women were working many jobs. One day her brother, Clarence, came home bringing a friend, Ross Thatcher. It must have been love at first sight as they were married soon after Dad’s discharge, February 13, 1946. They shared almost 50 years together.
Their marriage produced 6 children. Timothy Norman (Ha), Lillian and Lydia (deceased), Terri (George), Trudy, and Randolph George (deceased). They ranched out of Laurel and Grayce rode a bike to work in Laurel. Tim and the twins were born while they were on the ranch. Ross was ditch rider. Then they moved to Billings, Terri was born there. Grayce worked at the sugar beet factory. Ross was in Greenland when Tim was sick with Polio, Terri got burnt. But, she told Ross to keep working. She borrowed $600. from her father-in-law, Miller Thatcher, and she paid every penny back.
Then they moved to Mouat Mine on the top of Iron Mountain near Nye. They enjoyed the time there picking huckleberries in the summer, seeing a bear out their back window, surviving the earthquake at Yellowstone. Both Grayce and Fannie lived there. Trudy and Randy were born in Columbus while they lived at Nye. They had many friends including Betty Kendall, whose husband, Bud, Dad’s partner died in a ceiling collapse at the mine.
Over the years our family moved from mine to mine. Jeffery City, WY, Billings, Jeffery City, Riverton, WY, Cottage Grove, Oregon. Grayce commented “with all this green you park us on a slag pile.” But we picked wild blackberries, she fell into the bushes; It was hard to get her out!!! On to a mercury mine in Paradise Valley, NV. Tim graduated from Winnemucca and joined the Army, Class of 1966. Then a gold mine in Oregon, where she cooked for the miners and the three youngest stayed with Hazel Thatcher Ray in Midvale, ID. The cook stove blew up on July 4th.
That fall they moved to Troy, MT. Ross worked in a gold mine, then asbestos, then helped build Libby Dam for the great Lake Koocanusa, finally at the school. Getting some property again Grayce had chickens, pigs, a horse. She started working for the Forest Service. Planting trees, clearing trail, maintaining roads and trails, mapping. She planted 1500 trees at the most in one day over terrain where trees had fallen. She volunteered for the Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Service. They lived there over 25 years. She planted trees in three different states. When not busy with the Forest Service she cooked at the grade school and she painted (pictures, quilts, shoes, hats, shirts, rocks)! She loved telling stories.
Ross and Grayce moved to Post Falls to live with Trudy. While in Post Falls, Ross passed, in November of 1994. Grayce stayed there for a short time then went to be with her sister Joyce. Joyce joined Ross a month later. Cousin Gertrude a month later.
For the next five to eight years Grayce and Paula were companions. They traveled to Alaska along with cousins Allan Crans and Arlene and Kenny Bevins. Toured Arizona and California and visited with every relative they could find. Grayce especially enjoyed visiting with Betty and Clifford Long and with her brother Jim and Barbara. Then Paula and Allan joined the heavenly relatives.
Tim, Trudy and Terri helped get Grayce organized and moved her to Terri’s in Colorado. There she was in fish heaven with San Isabel Lake close by. Of course, she still needed a job, so she started working at a greenhouse that grew seed potatoes. She was the oldest, 80, and the rest had a hard time keeping up with her. Randy joined her so there was always someone to go fishing with.
In Colorado Grayce had her camper beside Terri’s house, she came and went as she liked and for the next 13 years, she enjoyed family life there with occasional trips to Trudy’s in Idaho. In August 2013 she helped George and Terri move to Big Timber. Welcome back to farm life, and extended family. Extended relatives were closer which made communicating with sister Fanny and brother Jim easier, and in-laws Frances Kraft and John and Anna Thatcher. Fanny joined the heavenly choir in Oct. 2013, Jim in 2016 and Frances 2020.
Since moving to Montana trips to Trudy’s was easier so she started staying in Idaho for 6 months at a time. While at Trudy’s she helped stack firewood, canned and dehydrated food. She hand quilted several quilts. She visited old friends from tree planting and Troy. She fed chickens and fished and enjoyed sitting in the sunlight. She helped in Trudy’s raised garden.
At Terri’s Grayce had her camper down by the orchard. She would walk back and forth to Terri’s house. She had low vision problems and did not see the long black snake that was sunning on the railroad tie a few feet from her. Losing her vision bothered her a lot so, at 90 years old she attended a month-long School for the Blind in Helena, which gave her more confidence. She was the second oldest participant at that time. She loved the sheep and bum lambs. She had her first stroke when she tried to get a horse out of the orchard. May 2015. June 2015, her son Randy joined Ross in heaven.
After the night Grayce came to the house at 10:30 pm thinking it was morning, it was decided to move the camper closer to the house. Grayce took her trailer to Tim the fall of 2017. She had hip replacement in 2018, then knee replacement in 2019 at 92 and 93 years old. From then on Grayce stayed at Trudy’s or Terri’s.
Grayce was vivacious and very independent. She was always ready to help, plan, do. She supported us in whatever we chose. She enjoyed adventure and when she could not do it, she listened to it via Talking Books. She has flown in planes, helicopter, and hot air balloon and gone deep-sea fishing. She has been to Canada and Mexico. She loved music and enjoyed the music at the Hospitality House and dancing with Dallas Roots. On her bucket list was hiking the Appalachian Trail. She may be doing that now, singing “Oh here I go a wandering…”
Grayce was preceded in death by her parents, her daughters, her husband, her son, her sisters and her brothers. She is survived by her son Timothy (Ha) and (Timothy Ross, sons Dvante and Jevon; William Randolph, daughter April and sons William and Gabriel); daughter Terri (George) their family, George Jr and Cade; Susanna (Tom), Ashley (Jose) and Genesis and Leo; Christopher and Nicholas; Maria, son Timothy; Clarence (Emilee) sons, Chace and Jacob; Donald (Sarah) sons Jiraiya, Jasper and Elijah; Trudy Deon, son John; daughter Laurie; daughter Mykayla and Kyle; son Ben (Sherry), Jared; Randy’s son Jimmy Guinard (Lori), daughters Hailey and Violette, granddaughter Lainey. And numerous nieces, nephews and friends. Cremation has taken place. Inurnment at a later time in Laurel, MT. Memorials to Senior Center, Big Timber, MT; Hearts and Hands Hospice, Big Timber or your favorite charity.
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Laurel, MT 59044
Senior Citizen's Center
Big Timber, MT 59011