Willodean Barnes 1927 – 2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
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Willodean Barnes was born Willodean Lucille Potter in Cumberland County Tennessee on Sept. 27, 1927 to parents Floyd and Arbana Potter, the fifth of 10 children. Dean grew up in the hills of Tennessee helping with the farm and household chores alongside her dad, mom and siblings. Without running water, and an outhouse out back, she learned at a young age what it takes to make a household. She attended a country school until the eighth grade, walking miles to and from school.

She met her future husband Earl early in life because their families were neighbors. All the neighbors would gather together on Saturday nights to play music, which must have begun her love of Bluegrass and Country music. In 1945, Earl was in the Navy and hitchhiked from Virginia to Tennessee, picked up mom and her dad and traveled by taxi to Georgia. On Dec. 21, 1945, they were married by the Justice of the Peace, and so began their 73 years of life together. After Earl’s discharge from the Navy in 1946, they settled in Yorba Linda, California with Dad working in the bees and Mom taking care of their growing family.

After a hunting trip to Montana and the purchase of the RM Gregg bee operation, the family headed to Dillon in the spring of 1956. Dad drove a truckload of furnishings and Mom drove in the car with four kids and pulling a trailer with a Shetland pony. Mom said she didn’t really like Dillon because it was too windy, but she certainly grew to love her home here. Dean was a stay-at-home mom, one of those that doesn’t work, other than keeping an immaculate home, taking care of a half-acre garden, keeping up with the kids, and helping dad with the bee business. Mom loved her flowers, especially her dahlias, and spent hours in the yard! She was an excellent seamstress, hostess and cook, always having a dessert with every meal.

Mom loved to camp with all of the family, and spent many fun times in the East Fork of the Blacktail, She loved to drown a worm and usually caught more fish than the rest of us. We loved her fried fish and potatoes over the open fire. She loved hiking those mountains with her kids and grandkids, picking wild raspberries and digging up wild flowers, many of which ended up in her garden at home.

Dean was active in the Presbyterian women’s group, bowled for many years, and loved a good game of pinochle. In her younger years she enjoyed being in the local riding club, skied at Rainy Mountain (now Maverick Mountain) but always claimed to not be a very good skier, mainly doing it to be with her kids.

Side by side, Dean and Earl spent 61 years building Beaverhead Honey Company and were proud that two sons, Bob and Ray, joined them in the successful business. Mom and Dad taught all of their kids to be hard workers and to always do the best possible job.

Willowdean would like to be remembered most for the love of her husband, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. She enjoyed watching them fish, play sports, show animals, and all the other activities in which they were involved.

Willodean is survived by her husband of 73 years, Earl G. Barnes; sons Robert (DaNeil), Ray (Ruthie), Tom (Cindy); daughter JoAnn Weststeyn (Robert); grandchildren Jason (Tara), Tyler, Tamara Kuhlman (Scott), Stacey Meneses (Danny), Josh Weststeyn (Olivia), Jennifer DeJong (Chad), Jana, Brett (Ali); and great-grandchildren Brendan, Rylee, Will Barnes; Hunter, Logan, Tymber, Ridge Barnes; Kash, Karli, Kassidi Kuhlman; Weston,Tyge, Dani Lu Meneses; Reese, Alexis Weststeyn; Colbie, Cade, Walter DeJong; Simone Grace, Brynnlynn and Davin Barnes. Also surviving are her brother Winfred Potter; sisters-in-law Mabel Potter and Rhio Barnes; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and many special friends.

Special thanks to her doctors, nurses and staff of Barrett Hospital, Big Sky Senior Living and Frontier Hospice, as well as caregiver Debbie Snowden. Donations may be made to Alzheimer’s Association or Frontier Hospice of Butte.

Services are 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 at Brundage Funeral Home. A guestbook is available online at www.brundagefuneralhome.com.