Darlene Rae (McClure) Nelson 1946-2019

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
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Darlene Rae (McClure) Nelson was born on Aug. 23, 1946 in Spokane, Washington, to Howard and Alice (Burnham) McClure. Soon after, the family moved to Sheridan, Montana, where Darlene’s sister, Carol was born. The family then moved to Whitehall, Montana, when Darlene was about five or six, where she remained until she graduated from high school in 1964. On her 18th birthday she married Frank Nelson in Whitehall. Six days later they moved to Dixon, Montana, where Frank started his first teaching job. After two years, home beckoned and Frank and Darlene returned to the Nelson family ranch north of Silver Star. Soon after, Frank got a teaching job at Twin Bridges, and the couple moved to a ranch outside of Twin Bridges. That didn’t last long though, as Darlene didn’t like being out of town without a car, so to Twin Bridges they went. While living in their first house in town, Darla, and three years later, Todd, were born. As the kids got older, Darlene started driving school bus for the Twin Bridges School District.

In 1984, Frank got a job as a superintendent/principal in White Sulphur Springs, so off they moved to central Montana. Darlene was a stay-at-home mom while the kids acclimated to their new school. She didn’t stay home long though. She was a substitute bus driver for the White Sulphur Springs school district, and crafted homemade pies for the Family Kitchen, a diner in White Sulphur Springs.

She started a career with the United States Post Office in 1987. She worked in White Sulphur Springs, Dillon, Whitehall, and Lima, before settling in as postmaster of the Cardwell post office, where she retired in 2009.

Darlene was an avid hunter and looked forward every fall to hunting trips in the Upper Ruby or Hell’s Canyon with Frank, Denny Mailey, her parents, and later Todd. One year, she landed a special permit for a mountain goat and bagged one above Lost Cabin Lake in the Tobacco Roots. She also shot several elk and deer throughout the years.

In the summers, she also enjoyed long camping trips into the Upper Ruby and Hell’s Canyon with immediate and extended family. Days were spent fishing; evenings were spent “spotting” for elk, which consisted of going to a ridge overlooking several other ridges and valleys to spot those elusive elk so they would know where to set up hunting camp in the fall.

Darlene enjoyed quilting, gardening, Native American archeology and her cats, but one of her favorite pastimes was watching Montana Grizzly football at Washington Grizzly stadium. She and Frank attended many games until dementia made it unenjoyable for her.

Darlene was preceded in death by her parents; her sister Carol; her parents-in-law Axel and Ruth Nelson; her brotherin-law Gary Nelson; and her sister-in-law Joann Nelson.

She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Frank; her daughter and son-in-law Jerome and Darla McCarthy and their children, Devin, Ryan and Maddie; her son and daughter-in-law Todd and Patty Nelson and their children Abby and Cassie Williams and Brandt and Kristen Nelson; and brother-in-law Norman Nelson.

Funeral services were at the Church of the Valley in Twin Bridges Monday, Feb. 18. The family asks that memorials be made to the Twin Bridges Alumni Association or the Montana Historical Society.

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