RUDYARD — Reba Elizabeth Han Boucher, 93, was born June 21, 1918, in her parent's tiny homestead shack, and she died peacefully Dec. 23, 2011.
Reba was the daughter of L.B. and Fanna Reba Han, who homesteaded south of Inverness. She spent her childhood on the farm with her four siblings and attended the one-room Hay Coulee School through eighth grade. Afterward, she continued her education at Inverness High School and graduated in 1936. Reba worked for room and board for the first two years of her high school education. She played basketball for her school and graduated as class valedictorian.
Though Reba wanted to go college and had earned a scholarship, family circumstances prevented her from doing so. She worked on her family farm for three years, and on Feb. 4, 1939, she married Kenneth Boucher at the Lutheran Parsonage in Shelby. The two lived briefly in Inverness, then Shelby, and then moved to Bremerton, Wash., for two years. When Kenneth was drafted during World War II, Reba returned to Montana with her first daughter, Carol, and worked in Inverness and Rudyard at local stores. Shortly after Ken returned from the war, the two acquired their farm east of Rudyard, where they raised their four children and were active in the Lutheran Church, the Republican Party and the Farm Bureau. Reba started a local Farm Bureau newsletter, which she published in her basement. Their contributions included a trip to Washington, D.C. to testify during hearings on a farm program in the early 1960s. In the early 1970s, Reba was elected the first female president of Our Savior's Lutheran Church Council in Rudyard.
Reba was a force who spent her life in productivity and sharing. She was an avid gardener, often working there in the earliest hours of the day and sharing the abundant produce with visitors. She had a ministry of hospitality and shared baked goods and huge meals with friends and family alike. She crocheted afghans for her children and many grandchildren, and until the last days of her life, her concern was always for her husband, siblings, children and grandchildren.
During the prime of their life, Reba and Ken traveled widely in their motor home from Montana to the Baja peninsula, to Alaska, Florida and through much of the continental United States. In more recent years, they traveled each winter to Las Vegas, where Reba's younger brother lived, and often volunteered their time in charity organizations.
For the past eight years, Reba and Ken spent much of their time in Billings, staying with their daughter Nyda. As always, Reba was a vital part of her family's life, connecting them to each other through her ever-present concern, and showing her love through generosity and good food.
Reba is survived by her husband, Kenneth, her brothers Ken and Richard Han, along with her four children and their spouses: Carol Anderson and John Schwechten, Nyda and Ken Wolery, Byron and Kathy Boucher, and Jayme Schlepp and Keven Van Dyken. Her 16 grandchildren are Brad (Bonnie), Todd (Ellarae), and Jay (Tammie) Anderson, Guy (Jen) and Kevin (Dawn) Schwechten, Gina (Brian Newburn), Randal (Danelle), and Rachel Wolery, Troy (Ann), Dustin (Koralee) and Lane (April) Boucher, Carin (Mark) Cramer, Erin (David) Bratsky, Katie Schlepp, Tyler Van Dyken and Elicia (Luis) Ruíz. Reba has 29 great grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews in her very large extended family.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Charles Dudley Han, her sister Dorothea Haaland, and her son-in-law Dennis Schlepp.
A memorial service will be held Thursday, Dec. 29 at 11 a.m., at Atonement Lutheran Church, 406 Wicks Lane, Billings, MT. Memorials may be given to New Beginnings Lutheran Church in Rudyard, or Hi-line Health Foundation, 315 W. Madison Ave., Chester, MT.