Laurence Maurice Marx, 91, passed away Sept. 23, 2012, in Billings. Born to Mary (Wattier) and Jacob Marx in Mildred, Mont., on Aug. 18, 1921, that single day began a heritage of farming and fishing that lasted almost an entire century. Growing up, he played and worked on the land, forming a gentle farmer that turned the soil and made things grow all his life — until he tilled under his last garden a few weeks ago.
During WWII, Laurence worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in Yukitak, Alaska, from 1942-1943, building structures. Upon returning, Laurence married Anna Lee Diefenderfer, of Belgrade, Mont., a union to which eight children were born. Working the farms around Belgrade, Laurence and Anna Lee moved their four young children to Wilsall, Mont., in 1951, where he purchased their own place, farming and ranching beneath the peaks of the Crazy Mountains. Here, his registered Herford business successfully complimented his farming operations. Raising a family that grew to eight children, Larry worked long days but never seemed to consider it work. He loved what he did and seemed more than happy to show his children the “joys” of chickens and milk cows and how much fun they could have taking part in the chores! Many stories and memories continue to flow from those years, as family gatherings are filled with the laughter from those days that Laurence left behind for his kids to treasure forever. In 1974, the couple divorced and the Wilsall home was sold. Laurence moved to Billings where he met Shirley Vandegenachte, marrying her in 1976. They shared happy years until her passing in 1992.
Retirement kept him busy farming in his backyard gardens, canning vegetables and the barrels of tomatoes he loved growing, or throwing a line in waters where he found fish on his hooks, and learning the science of winemaking so that many family and friends stopped in to help grade the batches. His last batch of strawberry-rhubarb wine was ready and the final instructions were given the day he passed. Laurence was a caregiver, dedicated to lending a helping hand to those in need of assistance, and doing it with a sense of humor that filled even the most difficult of days. From the soil or from family and friends, Laurence grew what mattered most in life and left it behind as a legacy for all.
Laurence shared a special companionship with Louise Hodges the last eight years, attending church, family functions, dining out and always – a little fishin'.
Laurence was preceded in death by his brothers: George, Jake, Don and Earl Marx; sister Marcella Dolezalik; son Lawrence Marx (Addrien), Seeley Lake, Mont.
Laurence is survived by daughters: Marietta Teed (John), Clarkston, Wash., Kathy Parker (Doug), Orlando, Fla., Jean Jones (Martin), Kalispell, Mont., Martha Ridgway (Jim), Billings; sons Roger Marx (Sheila), Newman Lake, Wash., David Marx (Nanci), Bozeman, Mont., Mitch Marx (Shelly), Laurel, Mont.; stepson Mike Ketterling (Naomi), Billings; along with 24 grandchildren, many great- and great-great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
A vigil service will be held Friday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., and memorial Mass will be held Sept. 29, 10 a.m., both at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, located at 226 Wicks Lane, Billings. Interment will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.