Sarah Kay Grocholski Breitenstein, age 36, died in a car accident April 24, 2014, in Billings.
Sarah was born April 24, 1978, in Spokane, Wash. She moved to Billings with her parents shortly after her birth. She is the daughter of Gary and Jean Grocholski, of Billings. As a toddler Sarah loved playing with Fisher Price Little People, her Cabbage Patch dolls, reading Dr. Seuss and riding her spring pony. She graduated to Pretty Ponies and to hiking and camping with her family. She loved the outdoors and in particular looking for special rocks.
She was active in Girl Scouts in elementary and junior high. On a trip to the National Girl Scout camp in Ten Sleep, Wyo., she was the one off looking for agates with her dad while the other girls rode horses. She often talked mom and dad into taking her to rock and gem shows in her teens.
Sarah attended school in Billings, graduating from Skyview High School in 1996 with honors and the University of Montana in Missoula in 2000 with honors with a creative-writing degree. Sarah had a flair for art, poetry, and loved to create. While attending the University of Montana she was able to realize one of her dreams — attending school for a semester in London and traveling in Europe. After graduation she even returned to London for a few months to work and learned to serve “high tea.”
Sarah worked as a seasonal park ranger for the U.S. Forest Service at Mt. Hood, Ore., teaching educational programs at campgrounds. Her second year included fighting a large forest fire. She also worked for the State of Oregon as a park ranger. Following her love of creating, she took night classes to learn to work with metals and gemstones while in Oregon.
She returned to Billings and went to work for Debbie Meyers at Buffalo Chips, learning more about goldsmithing and gems. Her goal in life was to perfect her skills in working with various metals and gems so she could create something unique and beautiful. Sarah was a nonconformist and was one of just a few women who actually sit behind a bench with a hot torch. She loved it.
In the summer of 2005, Sarah and her high school sweetheart, Wiley Breitenstein, hiked in the sleet and rain to a mountain lake in the Beartooth Mountains where Wiley proposed marriage. In Oct, 2006, they married in the rain, too. The joy of their life is son, Nolan, age 5.
Just a few weeks ago Sarah opened her own retail goldsmith shop in downtown Billings, called Big Sky Jewelry Designers. Her dad, a watchmaker, started working in the store one day a week to help. She was eagerly planning her grand opening.
Sarah is survived by her husband, Wiley, and son Nolan, of Billings; father and mother Gary and Jean Grocholski of Billings; Uncle Dennis and Gloria Grocholski, Indiana; Uncle Robert and Betty Williamson, Aunt Joanne and Al Morelli, and Uncle Claude and Emilie Williamson, all of Oregon; numerous cousins; mother-in-law Sandy Avery, of Billings, and father-in-law Dennis and April Breiteinstein of Billings.
Services will be held at the First Congressional United Church of Christ at 310 N. 27th St. on Tuesday, April 29, at 6 p.m. A reception will follow at the Elks Lodge, 934 Lewis Ave.