Bertha Kanning passed away on April 23, 2019, two weeks shy of her 88th birthday. She had been a long-time resident of Billings and lived at the Valley Health Care Center there for the past five years.
Born Bertha May Plumb on May 10, 1931 in Grass Range, Montana, to Richard and Daisy Plumb (nee Hobbs), the fifth and last surviving of seven children, she was adopted at age eight by Nenette Armitage Percy and Raymond Percy with whom she lived in Lewistown. The Percys moved her to the state capital of Helena in time for high school. She graduated from Helena High School in 1949.
While in high school, Bertha worked at the popular Parrot soda fountain in Helena, and then briefly at Kasper’s camera shop. She then worked at Northland Steel in Billings for over 20 years where she developed a lifelong friendship with Dolores Erickson.
Bertha landed in Billings in the mid-50s and married John Kanning on June 9, 1951 and divorced in April 1964. They were the parents of three children.
Over the years, Bertha, to much delight, was able to reunite and establish relationships with her birth siblings and their extended families.
In June 1993, Bertha travelled to Waco, Texas, for a reunion at the home of her brother Dick. Also present were sister Violet and two of Dick’s children, Jay and Renee Plumb. Bertha had not seen Jay and Renee since 1963. This reunion led to a series of visits and larger family reunions in Billings beginning in 2001.
In June 2015, Bertha, with the assistance of Dolores, made the arduous trip by plane to Vincennes, Indiana, for a final big reunion with many of the grown kids of her brother Dick and their kids. That weekend was a very special time for her.
Bertha was preceded in death by her biological parents; her adoptive parents; all six of her siblings; her oldest son Daniel (wife Julie) and longtime companion Warren George.
Bertha is survived by son Ron Kanning (wife Donna) of San Ramon, California, and daughter Karen Weber (husband John) of Billings; six grandchildren: Sara Zentner of Dickinson, North Dakota, Seth Morrigan of Portland, Oregon, Annie Moore of Union City, California, Steven Kanning of China, Miranda Christensen of Friendship, Wisconsin, and Amy Kanning of Billings.
Karen and John showed incredible love and devotion as caretakers for Bertha in the years after she could no longer live at home.
There will be no public memorial services.