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Mary L. Allen, 71, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, friend, teacher and historian, was granted her wings for her journey to Heaven on December 3, 2019, after a hard fought six year battle with ovarian cancer.

Mary was born to Edith (Howard) and William Hailstone on February 13, 1948 in Missoula, the second of six children. The family moved to Billings, where Mary grew up. She graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1966, a keen student active in drama, German club and 4-H. Eastern Montana College was Mary’s obvious choice to further her education, and she earned her teaching degree in 1970. While student teaching in Red Lodge, Mary met her life partner, Joe Allen, a Roberts rancher. They married December 19, 1970 at St. Agnes Catholic Church. Mary and Joe settled on the Allen family ranch in Roberts, where they lived the rest of their lives and raised their children Erika and Tyler. Mary’s first teaching job was for the Red Lodge schools; then Mary was hired in her new hometown to teach the first ever kindergarten class at Roberts School.  Continuing there until retirement in 2014, Mary was a beloved student activities advisor and taught various grades and courses: German. English. Reading. Drama. Business. Community history research. Librarian. School newspaper. National Honor Society. Class Advisor. Frau Allen guided and inspired hundreds of students to find their passion; through her, so many found meaningful (and colorful!) career paths.  She encouraged each individual to do their personal best, and she reinforced that through her own example of dedication and learning.   

Mary’s love of the Roberts School and Community was unparalleled. Being the truly magnanimous person that she was, many people have no idea the amount of time, energy and financial support Mary selflessly gave to everything she was involved in. Mary was a cornerstone of the Roberts community, tirelessly working to foster community participation, preserve local history, and enhance community spirit. She was instrumental in organizing three Roberts All-School Class Reunions, and the Roberts’ Centennial Celebration in 1993; founding the Roberts Parents of the Performing Arts group in 1990, and the Roberts Booster Club in 2010; she was an active member in Roberts Women’s Club, Roberts Activities Committee, St. Agnes Altar Society, and St. Agnes Parish. Mary was an Organizational Leader for the Rock Creek Ranchers 4-H Club for multiple years, and managed numerous community and school fundraisers and events. 

Mary delighted in the interesting local stories she heard from her husband, friends, and neighbors over the years. Wanting to preserve these treasures for future generations, Mary established the Roberts History Group in 2001, and produced one of the most valuable legacies ever created for the Roberts community. Mary enlisted RHS students, town elders, and dozens of volunteers. Her research group collected pictures, family stories, newspaper articles, original homestead maps, school history, and records of crops, cemetery burials, and military veterans. Mary spent thousands of hours composing and researching stories and contacting people across the United States with ties to Roberts history. The 590-page book “Trails, Tracks and Tributes: A History of Roberts” is the result of this; Mary’s enduring gift to her community. For her efforts, Mary was awarded the 2014 Heritage Keepers Award by the Montana Historical Society. 

Veterans held a special place in Mary’s heart. Using information from her town history research, Mary once again helped rally the community to create the Roberts Veterans Cross Project. Mary was determined to honor every Roberts Veteran and active service member, and now more than 450 are memorialized along the Roberts highway every Memorial and Veterans Day. Mary herself sewed hundreds of protective covers for the markers.  

Mary loved books, reading and a margarita with dear friends. Building up the Roberts School library was one of her proudest accomplishments—she and her husband Joe even traveled all the way to Los Altos, California, to collect a pickup load of donated books to bring back to the school library for her students and community. Mary was talented with crocheting, sewing, needlework, and cooking, and Mary being Mary, also enjoyed teaching these skills to kids.

Mary’s greatest joys in life were her children and grandchildren. She was a totally devoted mom and grandma, never missing an event or activity they were involved in; proud to be a loyal cheerleader for all Rockets and Rams.  Mary’s unconditional love of all children allowed many kids to feel like they were part of her family, and that made Mary happy too. To Mary, most problems could be solved by listening and having a good cup of tea; many benefited from her philosophy.

Mary was a woman of deep faith, trusting in the Lord that “Thy Will Be Done.” Her love, compassion and most importantly, her magnanimous spirit, will live on for generations to come.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband Joe, her parents, sisters Beverly Emery and Billy O’Reilly, and brothers Richard Hailstone and David Hailstone. Surviving family members include her daughter Erika (James) Binando and grandchildren Bailey, Brooke, Blake and Burke Binando; son Tyler (Lindy) Allen, grandchildren Maddisyn, Joseph, Tyler Anthony and Christian Allen; brothers Howard (Marie) Hailstone, John (Barb) Hailstone, and sisters Ruby (Tim) Ennis, Margie (Dale) Brelje, Rhoda (Brook) Hovland, and many nieces, nephews, extensive family and friends.

Mass for Mary will be held at St. Agnes Church in Red Lodge at noon on Thursday, December 12. Luncheon will follow at St. Agnes and interment will follow at Roberts Cemetery. Smith Olcott Funeral Chapel in Red Lodge has assisted with the arrangements. Memorials may be sent to St. Agnes Altar Society Box 1067 Red Lodge, MT 59068, Beartooth Hospice at 252 Broadway Red Lodge, Roberts Community Foundation Box 284 Roberts, MT 50707, or charity of choice. Condolences for the family may be shared at www.smithfuneralchapels.com.

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