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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Valley News at a Glance

New preschool to open in Stevensville

Forest officials caution visitors about outdoor travel/recreation

WIC program struggles with funding shortfall

Stevensville resident receives scholarship

Governor announces local appointments

Local business receives top honors

Curves donates to American Cancer Society

Head Start taking applications

Local children shine in Christmas pageant

Offers to help fix food bank truck pour in


New preschool to open in Stevensville

Two teachers are opening a new school in Stevensville, the Ginger Bread Preschool Academy, which will be located on Buck Street on the corner of Buck and Central. Opening date will be January 7, 2008.

This new business in downtown Stevensville has been a dream of Jane Karr and Eda Karr-Scholten, both teachers who have many years of teaching experience between them.

According to Jane Karr, education in Stevensville dates back 135 years. The very first school was on Buck Street just two blocks north of the Ginger Bread Preschool Academy. The first school came about with the Homestead Act of 1862 when many settlers came to the Bitterroot.

Quoting from the "Montana Genesis": "The first school was a log cabin built by the parents involved, and each pupil furnished his own desk, books, and a slate. On the wood stove stood a container of water, and when each slate had been filled the student would go and wash off the writing. School was held only in the winter months, and they went to school in sleighs or wagons. Straw was put in the rigs to sit upon, and they covered themselves with buffalo robes to keep warm. If they had no boots, they bound their feet with cloths such as grain sacks."

The first school on Buck Street was limited to the briefest exposure to the fundamental three R's. But it was the acceptance of the fact that education was important and necessary and an American birthright that made this school succeed," says Mrs. Karr. She says this will be the premise of the Ginger Bread Preschool Academy. All children who attend the Academy will receive a broad exposure to learning. Karr-Scholten has a degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Special Education. Jane Karr has a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in music and also holds a K-12 Reading Endorsement.

"The Ginger Bread Preschool Academy wants to make learning so much fun that every day will be an exciting adventure," says Karr. "We want to stimulate the child's creative, physical, cognitive, and social skills to new levels. Our goal is to make school the extraordinarily thrilling doorway to a whole new world for any child. We also want children to be in a loving and caring environment where they will want to learn. A summer program could be a consideration. There have been inquires and we will continue to keep our options open based on interest from parents."

Eda Karr-Scholten has a son in lraq, and so the Ginger Bread Preschool Academy will be offering a reduced rate for any child enrolled who has a parent serving in the Middle East.

For registration information call 396-0105.

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Forest officials caution visitors about outdoor travel/recreation

With the quickly changing weather conditions, Bitterroot National Forest officials encourage those making plans for winter travel – whether on nearby Forest roads or longer distance – to be well prepared.

While all roads can be tricky this time of year, Forest Service roads can be especially challenging because of the limited winter traffic and maintenance. Conditions of these roads can change quickly especially with fluctuations in elevation, temperature and precipitation, and amount of sunlight or shading on the road's surface. Early reports on Monday indicate that many Forest Service roads have water running over an icy base. These conditions will deteriorate further if overnight temperatures drop below freezing, which is common in mountainous areas above the valley floor.

If travelers have the option, sometimes the best choice one can make is simply to postpone travel until weather conditions stabilize and road conditions improve. If postponing travel is not an option, one should be well prepared for a variety of emergencies. There are several websites that list recommended precautions for winter travelers including the National Weather Service's "Winter Storms" report, which you can find at

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WIC program struggles with funding shortfall

Montana Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program officials have been closely following escalating food prices, specifically on dairy products. Since 2006, eggs have increased 80 percent, milk 23 percent and cheese 17 percent.

And, those cost increases show no signs of slowing down, states WIC director Joan Bowsher of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said. “Our budget really began to be impacted in August 2007,” Bowsher said. “That’s when we knew we had to make some budget cuts, since we are seeing no increase in the funds available from the USDA for the states to provide the program.”

The program is taking the following steps that could improve the budget situation in the short term:

• Reducing the amount of milk clients receive in their food packages for nutritional reasons effective Dec. 1, 2007.

• Encouraging local WIC sites to tailor food packages to each individual’s needs as a way to reduce waste.

• Encouraging WIC participants to choose the lowest cost food products available.

Organic foods were set to be dropped from the list of WIC-approved foods on Dec. 1, 2007 as another way to save the program money. However, WIC officials will continue to allow organic foods and look at alternate ways the program can reduce costs while it continues to face the potential for budget shortfalls if food prices continue to rise, while federal program funding does not.

“Our overall budget dilemma goes far beyond organic foods,” Bowsher said. “Although removing organic foods would save the program some money, it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much. So, for the time being, we’re going to step back and study the issue further.” Bowsher also noted that none of the proposed changes will affect the WIC Farmers Market Program.

As a longer-term solution to the problem, in March 2008, the program will require participants to purchase the lowest cost brand for each approved product. Montana is one of the last states in the country to implement this change. However, state WIC officials have asked the USDA to consider a waiver allowing participants to purchase higher cost brands if they have the ability and choose to pay the difference in price.

Bowsher stresses that there is no quick fix to the program’s growing budget woes. “The state is continuing to analyze the situation and take all cost-saving measures into account while continuing to serve all of the people in the state who need WIC services,” she said.

The program is funded by the USDA and has about a $1 million a month food budget. In Montana, the WIC program is offered through 27 local agencies with services available to over 22,000 participants in all 56 counties and seven reservations. In addition, over 225 grocery stores accept WIC vouchers.

The program helps low-income families who meet the program qualifications. To qualify, a woman must be pregnant, breastfeeding, or recently had a baby. Age eligibility for infants is birth to 12 months, and a child up to five years old. Participants must be state residents and they must have been determined by a health professional to be at nutritional or medical risk.

For more information call Bowsher at 406-444-4747.

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Stevensville resident receives scholarship

Ashley Pruszinski of Stevensville (59870) has been awarded the Spouses to Teachers Scholarship from Western Governors University. Western Governors University ( is a fully-accredited, non-profit, online university that was created by 19 western states governors to give access to education for adult learners. WGU, which is competency based, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in information technology, business, teacher education and healthcare.

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Governor announces local appointments

Governor Brian Schweitzer has announced appointments to various boards and councils.

Local appointments include:

Capitol Finance Advisory Council

- Sen. Rick Laible, Victor. Qualification: Legislator. Senator Laible serves on the Education and Local Government Committee and Revenue and Transportation Interim Committees.

Board of Horse Racing

- Ray "Topper" Tracy, Stevensville. Qualification: industry representative. Tracy has been involved with the horseracing industry for many years, including serving as publisher of "The Racing Journal."

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Local business receives top honors

Brian and Michelle Mendenall, owners of Allegra Print & Imaging in Hamilton, were recently honored by Allegra Network with the franchise system's prestigious Sales Triad Award. The award is presented annually to the top five franchise members with the greatest growth over the last three years.

"Operating a successful business demands a sophisticated and strategic approach to meeting clients' print communications needs," said Carl Gerhardt, president and CEO of Allegra Network. "This award is a direct reflection of Brian and Michelle's commitment to embrace technological advancements in an ever-evolving industry while always striving to provide the best solutions for their clients."

Located at 1151 N. First St., Suite C, Allegra Print & Imaging in Hamilton features traditional and advanced printing technologies including full-color printing, in-house graphic design services, digital color and black and white output direct from electronic files, high-speed copying, online file transfer, complete finishing and mailing services, variable data capabilities, print management solutions, promotional products and marketing consultation.

Allegra Print & Imaging is a member of Allegra Network LLC, one of the world's largest print and graphic communications franchises linking more than 600 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

For more information, contact the award-winning Allegra Print & Imaging in Hamilton at 363-7645 or visit the company's Web site at

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Curves donates to American Cancer Society

Curves of Hamilton raised over $200 from fundraising efforts in their local community to benefit American Cancer Society .

The fundraising efforts took place from October 1 to October 31, 2007.

"While we work to improve the lives of the women in the Hamilton area through Curves, we also feel it is important to reach out to others in our community," said Diane Johnson, owner of Curves of Hamilton.

According to Johnson, one of Curves of Hamilton's goals is to foster community involvement through charitable efforts.

"It's apparent to us that American Cancer Society cares about the lives and the health of the people in our community. We are proud to be able to partner with them to help the Hamilton community," said Johnson.

Curves provides an exercise and weight control program designed specifically for women. For more information contact Diane Johnson at 363-0393.

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Head Start taking applications

Ravalli Head Start is taking applications for January-May 2008. Head Start offers pre-school classes and comprehensive development services for Ravalli County children who turned 3 by September 10, 2007 and are not yet kindergarten eligible. Classes are located in Hamilton and Lone Rock. Families with income at or below U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines are encouraged to apply. Call 363-1217 for more information. Classes resume on January 2, 2008.

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Local children shine in Christmas pageant

By Gretchen Langton

The Hamilton Players presented their 2007 Children's Christmas Pageant last weekend. Seventy people were on hand for the last of three performances at the Hamilton Playhouse. The crowd included button popping parents and relatives, armed with video cameras and flowers, as well as nostalgic citizens attached to the Christmas Pageant tradition. This performance did not disappoint as fifteen white clad, winged angels in tinsel haloes surrounded the simple nativity set-up and sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Four cute shepherds stopped in to sing "While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night"; the trio of handsome boy kings sang "We Three Kings of Orient Are." A highlight was a duet performed by two adorable donkeys, in fuzzy donkey suits, played by Mackenzie Wallace (age 4) and Andie Victoria Duncan (age 6).

Prior to the traditional pageant, these future actors of stage and screen performed what they called "Christmas Around the World," which was an educational overview of traditions practiced in locales as diverse as Russia, the Congo, Australia, Brazil, and Holland. The representative American children were humbly seated in the middle, in their pajamas, absorbing the details of other cultures' Christmas celebrations and singing "Noite de Paz," "O Denneboom," and the humorous "Australian Twelve Days of Christmas," surrounded by the other kids dressed in garb from the five countries they represented.

These adorable children have been diligently preparing for their performances since November 9th, says co-director Becka Marshall. She and Mara Lynn Luther, both regular young performers and directors at the Hamilton Playhouse, have successfully corralled and organized thirty exuberant kids ages four to fourteen for nearly two months. The children sang (together and separately) a total of fourteen songs and each played two different roles, many with speaking parts.

Before the kids took the stage, ten adoptable dogs from the Bitterroot Humane Shelter were hopefully introduced to the audience and handled by volunteers. Those considering the addition of a family pet this holiday season should visit the shelter to meet the cats and dogs that desperately need loving homes. Call the shelter to find out the best times to stop in (363-5311).

Apparently, no Christmas celebration is complete without the arrival of the Man in Red. These little actors were truly preparing for life in the fast lane as they told Santa their names and made requests for "cell phones," "cars," and "anything with the New England Patriots on it"; one little angel told Santa she wanted a "real diamond." What's in the vessel, Santa asked one of the Wise Boys, who was still holding his prop like a sacred egg in front of him. "Myrrh," this Wise Boy replied with reverence. (I was dying to know if he had any idea what myrrh was used for.) Santa chuckled. My daughter patiently waited to see Santa, occasionally swatting at the angel wings that battered her from ahead and promptly asked Santa for "a puppy." This savvy Santa told her "mommy should have a say in this matter" which only dented her iron hopes a little and she was temporarily distracted from her canine dream by the candy cane from Mr. Kringle's drawstring satchel. Santa left, a group photo happened with enough flash power to light up Las Vegas, and the stage was still, but not for long. Next up, "South Pacific."

Vicky Brison, the brightly attired interim Director of the Hamilton Playhouse, wants to remind the public that auditions will be held for their upcoming performance of "South Pacific" on the 2nd and 3rd of January at 7 p.m. She says that people don't have to be seasoned actors to participate; everyone is welcome. She also encourages theater-goers to call about availability of tickets for performances that are rumored to be sold out as tickets are still often available (box office: 375-9050 or

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Offers to help fix food bank truck pour in

After local news agencies across the state announced that one of Montana Food Bank Network’s key semi-trucks had blown an engine and would require upwards of $15,000 to repair, concerned citizens from communities across Montana stepped up to help. Phone calls, letters and even offers to drive a load poured into the Network offices. Staff members took calls for everything from a five-dollar cash donation from a senior citizen in Bozeman, to a church that raised $312 by passing a hat, to a Billings business owner who offered a used truck to sell below cost. 

“We were overjoyed at the response,” said Peggy Grimes, Executive Director of the Montana Food Bank Network. “The generosity of people, particularly during the holidays, is a testament to the concern Montanans have for their neighbors in need. People are supportive of our work all year long but the additional support during this time has been especially appreciated.”

When everything was sorted out, the best course of action was to fix the engine in the current truck and hope that it lasts a little longer. A Missoula trucking company donated the labor to repair the truck and cash donations were collected to pay for most of the parts. However, an additional $2,500 dollars in parts is still needed to complete the engine overhaul. Because the engine already has 600,000 miles on it, the truck will have to be replaced in the near future before additional costly repairs are needed warned the mechanic working on the vehicle.

One of the food bank network's concerns had been the ability to collect food into its warehouse for the new year. Since hearing about the situation, Wal-Mart has donated a truck load of food coming from their Las Vegas distribution center and Country Pasta in Polson has donated two truck loads. 

There is still time to help and anyone who would like to make a donation toward the truck can call Grimes at 721-3825 or send their donation directly to the Montana Food Bank Network, 5625 Expressway, Missoula, 59802. All donations are tax-deductible.

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Rosalie A. Dietz

Rosalie A. Dietz, 81, of Stevensville, passed away Sunday, December 16, 2007 at Community Medical Center following a fall at her home. She was born on November 15, 1926, the third of three children and the only daughter, to Homer "Dick" and Agnes (Bren) Shearer in Glendive, Montana.

She grew up on the plains of Eastern Montana near Lindsay, riding horses, raising sheep, chasing rabbits and swimming in the water holes. She started her education early, going to school at the age of 4 because both her brothers were going and she wanted to go as well. Her high school years found her "batching" with her brothers in Glendive where she attended Dawson County High School because they lived too far from town to commute. She graduated in 1943 at the age of 16. She then attended summer normal school at Eastern Montana College in Billings where she was trained to be a teacher. She spent the next three years teaching in one-room country schools in Eastern Montana, sometimes staying at the teacherage and sometimes boarding with families in the community.

On December 26, 1946 she married Henry "Hank" Dietz of Glendive. The couple moved to Stevensville in August 1953, realizing their dream of owning a farm of their own. Mom worked side by side with Hank on their dairy farm, milking cows, raising chickens, calves and kids. They put in a huge garden every year and Mom canned and froze tons of produce throughout the years. In addition to working on the farm, Rosalie worked at jobs in the Stevensville area until starting at the Safeway store in Hamilton where she worked until her retirement. Mom continued to live on the farm she and Dad worked so hard to build until reluctantly moving to Stevensville in 2005. Her pride was her beautiful yard and roses and the white painted board fence that surrounded much of the farm.

Rosalie was a 50-year member of the United Methodist Church. She also was a member of United Methodist Women, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Stevensville Garden Club. She was a 4-H leader for many years when her children were young. She enjoyed her roses and flowers and embroidery work. She was a master cake decorator for many years and provided wedding, anniversary and birthday cakes for her family and other valley residents. Most of all she loved to play cards and bingo at the Senior Center and rarely missed a night!

Mom had the kindest and strongest loving heart that we know. Whenever any of her children married, it was like she gave birth again and the new family member was welcomed to the fold. That kind heart could change, though, when the deck of cards was brought out; Mom loved to play and she really loved to win. There were no holds barred in a game of pinochle or cribbage. Mom was fiercely independent, insisting on living alone and driving her own car until her final day despite suffering a stroke 14 years ago. She was always firmly convinced that she could "do it myself," and woe to anyone who tried to convince her otherwise. Her strong will was evidenced by her survival of breast cancer twice, and her rehabilitation back from her debilitating stroke. Though she never recovered her ability to speak, we could generally figure out what she meant. She instilled in her children a strong work ethic, a stubborn streak, fierce independence, and a compassion for their fellow man. Mom, we hope we can make you proud and follow your example. We know you're whole again now, dancing on the clouds with Dad, and making up for your inability to speak for the last 14 years; don't bend his ear too much! We love you and will miss you forever.

Rosalie was preceded in death by her husband, Hank, 1998; her parents; brother Timothy Shearer; and son-in-law Ronald Pearson.

She is survived by her children: Carol (Ross) Emery, Clarkston, WA; Linda (Floyd) Kauffman, Stevensville; Jim Dietz, Stevensville and Rob (Colleen) Dietz, Spokane. Her brother Jack (Betty) Shearer, Glendive; sister-in-law Esther Shearer, Glendive and special aunt Margaret Erickson, Seattle also survive. She is survived by her grandchildren and great grandchildren: Jeff Emery and Jacob Coffin-Emery, Spokane; Jason Emery, Clarkston, WA; Colleen (Marlon) Mackowick, Moorhead, MN; Melissa Kauffman, Missoula; Jody (Sean) Torrey, Bryce and Sidney, Stevensville; Trinity (Darren) Nelson, Keenen and McCall, Salt Lake City, UT; Kesli Delgadillo, Tristen and Midella, Post Falls, ID; Mindy (Chad) Street, Couer d'Alene, ID and Mitch Dana, Stevensville; Caittin Dietz and Jeremy Dietz, Spokane, WA, as well as numerous cousins and in-laws.

Funeral services were on Thursday, December 20, at the United Methodist Church with Pastor Nancy Slabaugh-Hart officiating. A reception will follow at the church.

Memorials are asked in Rosalie's name to the Stevensville United Methodist Church or to the Stevensville Senior Citizens Center.

Marjorie A. Hawley

Marjorie A. Hawley, 86, of Hamilton passed away Monday, December 10, 2007 at her home. She was born November 10, 1921 in Mt. Zion, MO, the daughter of Chester and Marguerite Park.

Marjorie moved with her family to Corvallis in 1935 where she graduated valedictorian of the class of 1939. After graduation, Marge married Hoyt Stevens. They made their home in Butte for a few years and their first son, Terry, was born there. With the onset of WWII, they moved to Martinez, CA where Hoyt went to work in the shipyards. Their second son, Denny, was born while they lived there. Because of their love for Montana, Marge and Hoyt returned to the Bitterroot Valley where their daughter Linda was born. They later moved to Missoula where Marge went to work as a stenographer for the Bureau of Public Roads in 1954. Later she worked for several years in the regional office of the US Forest Service. During these years she and Hoyt built many homes in Missoula. Marge excelled at designing floor plans and was involved in every aspect of building, from shingling roofs to laying hardwood floors. She added her personal touch to every home they built.

Marge and Hoyt’s marriage ended in 1977. In 1987, Marge met her sweetheart, James Hawley. They married in 1988 in Hamilton where they have spent many happy years together. They enjoyed traveling until Marge’s health declined in later years. Jim was a devoted and loving husband and her sole caregiver during her decline.

Among her many talents, Marge enjoyed gardening and tending to her flowers. She was an excellent cook, seamstress and pianist. Her greatest joy in life, however, was the love she shared with her beloved husband and her family. She expressed her love of our Lord through her acts of kindness and generosity to others.

Marge is survived by her husband Jim of Hamilton; her sister Norma Cook of Hamilton; two sons, Terry Stevens and wife Risa of Hamilton and Denny Stevens and wife Marles of Athol, ID; her daughter Linda DeMinck and husband Jim of Missoula; stepson Jim Hawley of Warner Robins, GA; stepdaughter Lynn Hawley of San Antonio, TX; 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers and sisters-in-law: Ray (Violet) Park and Gene (Maxine) Park.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, December 15 at Daly-Leach Funeral Home the funeral home with burial to follow at the Corvallis Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Jim Hawley, Steve Holton, Clay Bronson, Wayne DeMinck, David DeMinck and Jon DeMinck.

The family suggests that memorial be made in Marge’s name to the Marcus Daly Hospice Endowment Fund, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840.

Brian Anthony Griffin

Brian Anthony Griffin, 19, of Stevensville, died on December 12, 2007 in Townsend, MT as a result of an automobile accident.

Memorial Services were held at the family home on Saturday, December 15, 2007.

The Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville was in charge of arrangements.

Jack Thomas Schroeder

Jack Thomas Schroeder, 54, of Florence, died at his home on Sunday, December 16, 2007.

He was born on October 28, 1953 in Valparaiso, Indiana and was the son of Richard and Joan (Pierce) Schroeder.

Jack graduated from Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Indiana. He was a carpenter and worked for Schultz Construction. Jack loved animals and plants, and never met a man he did not like, nor a man that did not like him. He was a loving son and brother and a devoted father and grandfather.

He was preceded in death by a nephew, Kyle Kozar.

He is survived by his sons, Jake and Jared Schroeder of Florence, and a daughter Jessica (Archie) Ioannides of Idaho Falls, ID. He is also survived by his parents Richard and Joan Schroeder in Valparaiso, Indiana. Also surviving are two grandchildren, Isabella and Brackyn, in Idaho Falls.

Memorial services will be held in Indiana at a later date. Should friends desire, memorials may be made in Jack's name to Farmers State Bank, medical fund.

The Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville was in charge of cremation arrangements.

Rosewitha Froehlich

Rosewitha "Rose" (Bode) Froehlich, 67, of Stevensville, died at her home on Saturday, December 15, 2007.

She was born in Neide Walstvit, Germany on May 30, 1940. She traveled with her husband several years.

Survivors include her husband of 45 years, Donald Froehlich; a daughter Annemarie; a brother Richard Body, Germany; and two sisters, Secret Grosman, Germany and Annaleese Milton, WA.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, December 19, at the Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville. Cremation will take place following services.

Memorials are asked to the Salvation Army.

Elizabeth Leah Natchez

Elizabeth Leah Natchez, 68, of Stevensville, died at her home on December 16, 2007.

She was born on December 10, 1939 at Albany, New York and was the daughter of James O.P. and Isabelle (Nulton) Mitchell. Elizabeth moved to the Bitterroot in Sept, 2003. Prior to moving, she lived in Colorado and New York. She enjoyed being a nurses aid.

Survivors include sons Gregory Natchez, Jim Natchez, Mark Natchez, and Joe Wheeler and a daughter, Carla McCall of Hamilton.

There will be no formal services held in Stevensville. The Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville was in charge of cremation arrangements.

Catherine Anne Christensen

Catherine Anne "Cathy" Christensen, 50, of Victor, died at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula on Sunday December 16, 2007 of lung cancer.

She was born on November 4, 1957 at Frankfort, Germany and was the daughter of Robert William and Sandra Jean (Regello) Clark.

Cathy graduated from Florence High School in 1976 and attended the U of M for two years, 1995 and 1996. Cathy married the love of her life, Dean Christensen, on August 27, 1977. The couple made their home in Victor. She worked at Discovery Care Center in Hamilton for many years.

Mom loved anything to do with Harley Davidson motorcycles and spending time with her grandson Daymein and her best friend, Diane Bishop. Mom was a great friend to all those who knew her. She loved meeting new people and had a smile for everyone. We miss you, Mom.

Her husband, Robert Dean Christensen, and her father, Robert William Clark, preceded her.

Survivors include her daughters: Nicole (Robert) Christensen Phelps of Hamilton and Lyandra Christensen of Hamilton, and adopted son Terry; her mother Sandra Conners; sisters: Jean Grey and Cristin (Gordon) Crockett, all of Tampa, FL; and brothers: Sean Clark of White City, OR, Darren Clark of Valencia, CA, Padraig (Laura) Clark and Gaelan Clark, all of Tampa, FL; and her grandson, Daymen Christensen of Hamilton; and numerous nieces and nephews. Also surviving are numerous friends including Diane and Clay Bishop and beloved companion, Lieutenant.

Memorial services were held on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at the Whitesitt Funeral Home with Pastor Peter Daley officiating. Memorials are asked in Cathy's name to the Lung Cancer Society of America.

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