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MILES CITY - Mary Ellen French, age 51, of Miles City, passed away at the Holy Rosary Health Center in Miles City, surrounded by her family on Friday, May 9, 2003.

Mary Ellen, who was born on July 17, 1951, in Chester, the daughter of Audrey and Alvin Howery, was one of four children. When she was very young, her family moved to Shelby where she went to school through her sophomore year. In 1967, the family moved to Whitlash, where Mary Ellen finished high school, graduating from Chester High School in 1969. She continued her education at Eastern Montana College in Billings for two years and the went to work in the medical records department at Liberty County Hospital and Nursing Home from 1971 until 1980. Mary Ellen was in the United States Army Reserve from 1972 until 1976.

On July 16, 1977, Mary Ellen married her best friend, Larry B. French at the Whitlash 4-H picnic grounds. Larry and Mary Ellen were more than married to each other, they were each other's best friend and number one fan. In 1980, Mary Ellen and Larry moved to Missoula where she worked for Western Montana Clinic. In 1984, they moved to Miles City where she worked at the Holy Rosary Hospital from 1985 until 1990. After that, she then went to work for Fort Keogh as an automated office technician where she was currently employed. Mary Ellen was Gramma to four very special little children, whom she thought the world of. She wanted them to know their Gramma, and she did her best to be with them as much as she could

Mary Ellen was always looking for ways to give - to her family, to her friends and to her community - even throughout her battle with cancer. She served as a shining example of courage, grace, and strength - inspiring everyone who met her. She refused to let cancer dampen her spirit and joy for life.

Mary Ellen is survived by her husband, Larry of 25 years; two stepdaughters, Crystal Verellen and her husband Mike of Olympia, Wash., and Heather Furigay of Miles City; two granddaughters, Tiara and Brianne Furigay of Miles City; two grandsons Riemann Furigay of Miles City and Trevor Verellen of Olympia, Wash.; her parents, Audrey and Alvin Howery of Shelby; her brother Wally Howery and his wife Marlene of Shelby; two sisters, BJ McNair and her husband Garth of Butte, and April Gordon and her husband Leonard of Cheyenne, Wash.; three nephews, two nieces and her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Bonnie and Ben French of Deer Park, Wash.

Visitation will begin on Tuesday, May 13, at the chapel of Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 14, at the chapel of Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Miles City. Private family internment will follow at a later date. Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home of Miles City has been entrusted with the arrangements.

If desired, memorials may be made to the Custer County Art Center, Water Plant Road, Miles City, MT 59301 or to the charity of ones choice.

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