Jean Baucus — rancher, historian, senator's mother — dies at 94

2011-12-10T19:02:00Z 2011-12-11T21:05:34Z Jean Baucus — rancher, historian, senator's mother — dies at 94Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
December 10, 2011 7:02 pm  • 

HELENA — Jean Baucus, a rancher, historian, patron of the arts and mother of three children, including U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, died at her home here Saturday. She was 94.

She was born in Helena July 7, 1917, the daughter of Fred and Bernice Sheriff. Mrs. Sheriff was one of two daughters of Henry and Alberta Sieben, and the other daughter was Margaret Hibbard.

In 1896, Henry Sieben bought a historic ranch north of Helena that runs from the Missouri River to Little Prickly Pear Creek and remains in the Baucus family today, owned by John and Nina Baucus. The other portion of Henry Sieben’s ranch is owned by the Hibbard family.

Jean Baucus was raised in Helena and on the Sieben Ranch, about 20 miles north of Helena.

Her whole life was the ranch, family members said.

“She was Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn wrapped into one,” Max Baucus said.

Jean Baucus attended Hawthorne School and graduated from Helena High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 1939.

She married John J. Baucus in 1946. They were active running the Sieben Ranch and raising their children. He died in 1996.

Survivors include three children, Sen. Max (Melodee) Baucus of Helena and Washington, D.C.; Karen Kallay of Fredericksburg, Va.; and John (Nina) Baucus of the Sieben Ranch. She had seven grandchildren, including one who is deceased, and five great-grandchildren.

Jean Baucus wrote four books about Helena: “Helena: Her Historic Homes, Vols. 1 and 2,” “Gold in the Gulch,” and “Helena: An Illustrated History” with Vivian Paladin. She also wrote a book about her grandfather, “Henry Sieben, 1846-1937: Legacy of Livestock and Land.”

Baucus was a patron of the arts, particularly of the Holter Museum of Art in Helena. She also was an active supporter of Carroll College, which awarded her an honorary degree.

Arrangements are pending.

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