Born in her mother's house in Miles City on Feb. 29, 1924, the youngest of eight surviving children, Lucy came into this world not much intended. Mom told us she didn't get her a real name until she was about three. She grew up tough in the bitter cold winters of Montana's depression cattle economy. She learned to ride a horse, shoot a gun, drive cattle, hold her liquor, and act like a lady along with her reading, writing and arithmetic. She graduated Billings Senior High School in 1942.
Lucy started work for the telephone company shortly after graduation but moved with her sister, Athalie, to California to lend her effort to the war. There she worked at the PX and enjoyed the more exciting life of California's wartime activities. Near the end of World War II, when it seemed the whole country was uprooted, she met and married Fred Bierman in Victorville, Calif. Fred was born and raised in New York City.
It's hard to mix Montana rancher and New York City. It was a lot of work to keep their world glued together. Lucy didn't like New York as well as she thought she would after the war ended, and it's hard for a shipbuilder to find work in Billings. Often as not, it was Lucy's paycheck that kept the family. Finally, in 1965 they found neutral ground in Portland, Ore., a place Fred and Lucy both came to love.
Fred and Lucy prospered in Portland and as their three children grew and left home she learned to adjust to her changing life. She retired from her career with "Ma Bell" after 30 years, 12 perfect attendance, in 1983. Freddy died in 1985.
I guess you can put the facts down easy and neat in a few paragraphs. It doesn't tell of the tears and blood and sweat of a lifetime struggling to maintain dignity in the face of American Twentieth Century stresses and tribulations. At times, going without basic needs to provide for your children. Making ends meet when they don't. We never heard her complain.
She met each day with a good attitude. She was honest and honorable. She exhibited courage and determination at all times. She taught us to live each day at a time and to never give up. She was a steadfast believer in woman's rights. By her example she taught us the meaning of dignity and personal strength. If we could sum her life up in a word I guess it would be "grit."
Lucy is survived by her daughter, Bonnie Neely of Billings; and her two sons, Rick of Juneau, Alaska, and John of Phoenix, Ariz.; her eldest sister, Leila Farnum; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. at Smith's Downtown Chapel on Thursday, May 15th.