Bertha Mae ‘Micki’ Bilbro, 85, passed away of natural causes at Kalispell Regional Medical Center on May 11, 2020 surrounded by her loved ones.
She was born in Sturgis, SD on January 11, 1935 to Harry VandenBos Sr and Victoria Troyer VandenBos, the 3rd of 8 children. Her family moved to Conrad, MT when she was 5 and then later to Valier, MT where she was raised on the family farm. She married her high school sweetheart Walter Dee Bilbro on September 13, 1953 and moved to Williamsburg , VA where he was stationed in the Navy. They returned to Kevin, MT in 1955 where they farmed with her Dad. Their son Don was born in 1956 and daughters Barbara and Debra in 1957 while there, and then moved to Choteau where Bonnie was born in 1958. They moved several times in the following years as Walt worked road construction and for the Forest Service in Utah, and then back to Great Falls where he worked at a lumber yard and more road construction. They would buy a house to fix up and then sell it and move on to the next one, and they also owned a Bernina Sewing Machine Store. Mom was a very talented seamstress and made lots of clothes for the kids and others.
In 1966 they moved to a farm in Dupuyer, MT and then Walt became the postmaster there in 1969. After moving to town, Micki and her sister Joyce had an upholstery business and did really beautiful work. The post office took them to Rudyard, MT in 1974 and then to Valier in 1978. All this time they did carpenter work as well, helping family and friends build and remodel houses, doing siding and roofing and building pole barns, and Mom was always right there alongside Dad working with him. She was almost as skilled a carpenter as he was. They also continued on with their Bernina business.
Retirement took them to Essex, MT for a few years and then they bought a 5th wheel and became snowbirds in Arizona in the winters. They moved to Kalispell in 1996 to be closer to town and to their daughter Bonnie and her family, and eventually their time in Yuma grew to almost 6 months per year. They loved spending time with old friends from here and with new friends they met down there, playing cards and games, going to jam sessions and having happy hours and meals together. Mom always loved doing crafts thru the years too, whether it was figurines she cut out with her scroll saw and painted, little signs and sayings, plastic canvas or cross stitch, and she left lots of wonderful things with friends and family to remember her by. They were always busy doing something.
Walt passed away in 2016 after almost 64 years of marriage. Micki then moved next door to Bonnie and Dan and continued to be active in the Kalispell Senior Center where they had made many friends. She enjoyed reading and doing jigsaw puzzles and spending time with the grandkids and great grandkids, going to softball, football, soccer and lacrosse games to cheer them on. She was usually up for whatever was happening and loved spending time with them.
Micki was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Walt, infant daughter Kathern, son Donald and 3 brothers. She is survived by daughters Bonnie Buls (Dan McDowell), Barbara DeMangelaere and Debra Johnson, sisters MaryAnn Sullivan (Jim), Joyce Jones (Ron) and Shirley Mumm (Ted), brother Harry VandenBos Jr (Linda), sister-in-law Louella Wall, 10 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held in late July or August.
Buffalo Hill Funeral Home is caring for the family.
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