Clara Belle Johnson, Hruska, McClelland, Benson

The year 1922, the month March, the day 21, the first day of spring, a tiny baby girl was born to George and Dora Murray; their ninth child of 11. The story goes that she was born in the "pest house" in Fort Benton (her mother had the pox).

She was named Clara Belle for no particular, known reason, a name she never liked. Thus she had many nicknames: Clarix, Katy, CB and finally just Clara. Baby Clara Belle lived with her oldest sister until she was 2-1/2 years old. She then returned to her parents, who, by this time had moved to a tiny farm on Spring Creek, South of Lewistown. A "tomboy" at heart, she learned to swim and ride her horse Buddy. She rode him like the wind and told countless tales of her adventures.

Perhaps a "Wild Child," Clara Belle on a whim was married. She was sixteen — of course she was old enough to get married!

And with this, to tell life stories of someone that has lived almost 97 years would take pages and pages, maybe it is enough to say that Clara Belle lived an adventuresome life, she danced on many tables and had a cunning way of phrasing words that found the recipients laughing and shaking their heads. She was a woman of many artistic talents and presented herself with a style and flare that made her seem much taller than her 5 foot 2 inches. Off to heaven the year 2019, the month Feb., the day 10.

She is survived by her five children: Jeanette Magstadt, Josephine (Gary) Thomas, Lauren Kay (Bill) DeLapp, Debbie Wright, Rudy (Doris) Hruska; 12 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren. Memories are made of this!

Memorial service is to be held Saturday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. at Smith Downtown Chapel, 925 S. 27th St., Billings.

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