January 5, 2017, after a long, full life, we said goodbye.
Mary grew up on ranches in Davenport, Washington and Ovando and Missoula and received a teaching degree from the University of Montana.
While visiting her sister in the Thompson Falls area met a handsome young rancher, Don Naegeli in Sanders County. Mary and Don Naegeli were married May 8, 1954 and settled on their ranch in Whitepine, Montana where they raised Hereford cattle and timber. Mary and Don were married for 43 years and raised their two children on the Naegeli Ranch.
Mary led an active, involved life in her community. She was a pioneer in the Forest Stewardship program, served on the Glacier Tourism Committee, and was active in the Montana Tree Farm program. She was also involved in Woman’s Club, Homemakers, 4-H, Cowbelles, Grange, MADD, Republican party, square dancing and Red Hat Ladies.
Ranching, stewardship, education, family and friends were important to Mary since childhood. Many generations of children, adults and classes have been welcomed to Naegeli Ranch by Mary and her family.
Mary and Don were among the first in the area to become certified in the Tree Farm Program and were honored by being named state Tree Farmers of the Year in 1983. Later they were named Tree Farmers of the Year for the 14 state western region. One of Mary’s favorite memories was of a trip with Tree Farmers to England, to meet people and learn about forestry and stewardship in another country.
Mary was a huge supporter of local artists, craftsmen, businesses and yard sales. Her friendly face, encouraging words and welcoming personality introduced her to many people and continued with friendship and support over the years.
Very near and dear to Mary was her family. She was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt to her family, and an adopted mother and grandmother to many. She was preceded in death by her husband Don and daughter Shirley. She is survived by her son Bill and daughter-in-law, Sarah; grandsons Derek (Kathryn), Jacob and Logan; granddaughter Mariah Earhart (Robert) and great-grandchildren Audree and Caleb. She is also survived by her sisters, Lilith Boyle of Yakima, Wash.; and Georgenia Wilkinson (Dick) of Thompson Falls; numerous nieces and nephews, extended family Josh and Dee Dee, and many adopted grandchildren across the world. (Shogo, Julia, Jessie, Polina and Maria).
Donations may be made in Mary’s memory to Montana Tree Farm Program, Sanders County 4-H or a local youth organization near you. Or simply volunteer, take a walk, run or ski outside, plant a tree, hug your family or encourage and welcome someone into your neighborhood. Mary would appreciate any of these gestures!
A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 15 at the Whitepine Mennonite Church.