CHINOOK - Mildred (Chesarek) Harbolt, 90, died Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, at her home surrounded by family and friends following a lengthy illness from complications of congestive heart failure and diabetes. Rosary services will be held on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. and requiem mass at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 16. Both will be held at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Chinook. Memorials may be sent to the Montana Diabetic Association, St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, Ramstrong Cancer Foundation, Poudre Valley Hospital, 2315 E. Harmony Rd. Suite 200, Ft. Collins, CO 80528. Arrangements are by Edwards Funeral Home of Chinook.
Mildred, the youngest of nine children, was born at the family home May 5, 1918, in Bearcreek to John and Frances (Hodnik) Chesarek. Her parents emigrated from Slovenia and met in the U.S. Her father owned and operated the "First and Last Chance Saloon" which served as a local gathering place for church and other social events in the mining town of Bearcreek. Mildred has always been proud of her Slovenian heritage. The John Chesarek clan was a very tight knit family that thrived on celebrations, polkas, good conversation and a hearty laugh. Mildred's father died when she was 2 years old. Her mother insisted all of her children receive a college education; no small feat for the 1920s and 1930s in America.
Mildred attended school in Bearcreek and played girls' basketball. In 1936 she graduated from Bearcreek High School and then furthered her education in Great Falls at the Columbus School of Nursing, completing her degree in 1939. She was employed at the Harlem Hospital until her marriage to William C. Harbolt at St. Agnes Church in Red Lodge on Dec. 30, 1939.
Mildred and Bill have six children: Connie (Jim) Oliver of Covington, Va., Francie (John) McMahon of Missoula, Carol Jo (Sonny) Lubick of Ft. Collins, Colo., Bill Jr. (Kathy) Harbolt of Chinook, Maggie (John) Moffatt of Lewistown and Beth (Rick) Cottingham of Helena.
Mildred's priorities in life were her devotions to family, church and community. She enjoyed her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and fostered a loving and close relationship with each of them. Mildred crocheted unique afghans for each of her children and grandchildren. She has been a faithful member of St. Gabriel's Catholic Church. She served on the Altar Society, the parish council and the funeral luncheon committee. In living her faith, all were graciously welcomed into her home. Mildred belonged to the American Red Cross and devoted many years in helping with the Red Cross Blood Drawing. Mildred was well known for administering nursing care to her neighborhood and community.
Industrious and self sufficient describes Mildred's way of life. Her self-discipline, healthy lifestyle and daily walks made her a true pioneer in dealing with the challenges of diabetes. She recycled, reused and was "green" long before it became a necessity. She was an independent thinker as well as an avid reader. Mildred will always be remembered for her graciousness and kindness to all who knew her.
Survivors include her loving husband of 69 years, William C. Harbolt of Chinook, her six children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, plus numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, five brothers and three sisters.