On Sept. 9, 1925, the sixth and last child was born to Robert and Grace Gokey on a farm outside Bay City, Mich. He was given the strong family name of Enos Stephen Gokey but would be known to family and friends as “Dean.” Growing up on the farm, he learned early and well the value of hard work. His mother held him on her lap as she drove the tractor until he could handle it himself. After completing the eighth grade, he quit the schoolhouse at the end of the road to work full time on the farm.
On March 28, 1927, a dear baby girl was born as the sixth and last child to John and Ethel Carter in Lakewood, Colo., Mary Maxine. Mary’s family soon moved to Wyoming, where her father worked as a sheepherder around Ten Sleep and Worland. This little girl’s life was devoid of the love and nurturing that every child needs. As a teenager, she was saved from these circumstances when she was placed in the Wyoming Girls School in Sheridan. After becoming a mother, she would frequently recount to her daughter the stories of the school and the love that she received there.
Upon graduation, her brother took her to Colorado, where on a blind date under the dome at Lakeside Amusement Park, she met the Michigan farm boy, now a handsome young military man. “If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was awfully close,” he would later say. Within four months, they were married there in Lakewood and after a short time finishing up his military service in Biloxi, Miss., they came back to Colorado to settle.
Dean farmed in his urban backyard while making a living as a welder working for Gates Rubber Co. for more than 35 years. Mary’s life was filled with home and husband and her two children, and her greatest life’s achievement was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1996.
In 2000, their world was turned upside-down when Dean was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Mary had lost the security of a strong husband and home as she and Dean moved to Montana where she could receive help with the care of her husband. Life had become very frightening for both of them.
On Feb. 1, 2008, Dean succumbed to the disease while living at the Laurel Evergreen Health Facility. Not having the relationship that she needed with her daughter, she moved to Mountain Grove, Mo., where she lived with her cherished niece, Doris Flageole, and later at an assisted-living facility. In December of 2010, Mary returned with her daughter to Billings. She continued to struggle with the pain of life until she fell asleep on Sept. 10, 2012. The struggles and sadness of this life had ended for her in the peaceful comfort and care at RiverStone Hospice Home. Her parting words to her daughter were, “I love you. You were the best thing I ever did. Tell Deanie I love him.”
May God’s grace and mercy be a banner over her and may she see God’s forgiving love and be glad.