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Julia 'Julie' Kinsey

August 5, 1942 April 25, 2024
Julia 'Julie' Kinsey
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Obituary for Julia 'Julie' Kinsey

We lost a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend on the 25th of April at home with her family surrounding her.


Julie was the eldest child of Louis & Dorothy Kohnke, born August 5, 1942. She grew up in Powell, Wyoming and followed in her parents’ footsteps by becoming a teacher. She met Don at Eastern Montana College in an education class where they shared a book. They were married on August 8, 1964 and Julie taught in Billings for nearly two years, and Don taught one year.


Their love of adventure inspired them to drive their ‘65 Ford Mustang, pulling a small trailer, on the gravel Alcan Highway for 10 days, camping along the way, and arriving in Anchorage, AK with teaching contracts in 1966. After teaching there for a year, they ventured onward to teach in rural native village schools, teaching Aleut and Eskimo children. Don got his pilot’s license to fly Julie and himself in and out of the bush. Their son William Lee was born in 1971 in Anchorage, while they were teaching in Togiak, AK. Rachel Anne followed in 1973 in Dillingham, while they were teaching in Aleknagik, AK.


After looking for a place to settle on their way home, Don and Julie bought their ranch in Don’s hometown of Big Timber, Montana in 1975. They raised sheep and cows, and when their sheep were sheared, Julie would pick several fleeces to card, spin, and knit into many items. She was one of the founding members of a women’s spinning and knitting group. Julie stayed home with Rachel while Don taught at the Big Timber Grade School until 1978, when Julie became the Chapter 1 Math teacher. Julie taught numerous grade levels and subjects throughout her 30 year career at BTGS. She was adored by her students, and finally knew it was time to retire in 2006 when she was teaching grandchildren of her former students.


Although retired, Julie still kept very busy in her community! She volunteered for the Big Timber Community Food Bank for ten years, and created a meal of the month with the recipe and all ingredients, similar to popular meal delivery services. She also enlisted other retired teachers to create a database and photograph all the graves at Mountain View Cemetery for FindAGrave. She later began retyping obituaries from the Pioneer onto FindAGrave memorials. Julie was active in Bridge Club, Delta Kappa Gamma, and loved to travel to visit with cousins and extended family. She never forgot to send birthday or thank you cards to extended family members and friends.


After surviving breast cancer in 2015, Julie made sure that anyone in the community also diagnosed would know they weren’t alone and sent them a “Be Strong” necklace. She knitted soft hats and donated them to the Billings Clinic Cancer Center. Julie was always looking for a way to give back to the Big Timber community.


She is fondly remembered for her laugh, which filled up a room (even a theater, as her granddaughter would say) with joy. She loved a good joke and reason to giggle and laugh.


Julie is survived by her husband Don Kinsey, brothers Keith (Donna) Kohnke of Billings and Gary (Nancy) Kohnke of Las Vegas, son Lee (Abby) Kinsey and granddaughter Libby of Livingston, daughter Rachel Kinsey of Big Timber, and her bonus family, Chris (Janice) Lorenzen and their two daughters.


Upon Julie's wishes, there will be no funeral, however a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Big Timber Community Food Bank or the Big Timber Carnegie Library in her name.


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