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Theresa (Betty) Walter, age 101, passed from this life at 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Theresa was born on Sept. 29, 1921, in Fulton, South Dakota, to Julius and Nettie Giraud. She completed elementary and high school education in Fulton. After a year of college in Madison, South Dakota, she went to San Diego, California, and worked at Conair Aircraft Factory during WWll.
She married Jacob l. Walter on April 17, 1943. A daughter, Rena, was born on Nov. 17, 1945. The family lived in Oregon after the war until 1955 when they settled in Kalispell. This brought Theresa closer to her sister, Inez Horner of Ronan, her mother’s brother, Clarence Bick, and their families. Theresa worked at the Kalispell City Library and attended Flathead Community College evenings. She transferred to the University of Montana in Missoula, graduating in 1971 with a BA in Education and a minor in Library Science.
She accepted a teaching position in Troy and taught third grade until she retired at age 64 in 1983. She was a patient, loving teacher who gave individual attention to every student. Many of her students remained in contact after they graduated and left Troy. In addition to teaching, Theresa sang in a number of choirs and also was needed and appreciated for playing piano and organ for several churches in Troy. She was a member of the Kootenai Chapter #88 Order of Eastern Star and served as the secretary for 15 years. She was an active member of the Troy Library Association.
Her husband died Sept. 26, 2000. Although Theresa’s many friends advised her not to move, she sold her house and moved to Ronan to be closer to family. Taking to heart a favorite saying of her mother’s, “A town is what you make it,” she became involved in many community projects. She volunteered several hours a month at the Ronan Senior Center and the Ronan Bread Basket. She shared hostess duties at the Garden of the Rockies Museum and worked shifts at the Ronan Visitors Center. Theresa played piano for “Music Appreciation” at St. Luke’s Extended Care and at the Pablo Baptist Church for two years. She belonged, served and supported The Ronan Women’s Club, the Sew and So Club, and St. Luke’s Foundation. She also helped serve the free Thanksgiving dinners at the Ronan Community Center and served on the election boards. It seems if there was a need, she was there to pitch in. In her eighties she joined Toastmasters, belonged and participated in four clubs: Always Talking Toastmasters of Ronan/Pablo, Thompson Falls Toastmasters, Plainly Speaking Toastmasters of Plains and District #78 Skills Club. She served as Area 15 Toastmaster Governor 2009-2010.
Theresa was a generous supporter of the Ronan Volunteer Fire Dept., Ronan Ambulance, Ronan Boys and Girls Club, St. Luke Foundation, Ronan Library, Shodair Children’s Hospital, Mercy Ships and Operation Smile. She donated funds for three rooms in St. Luke’s Community Hospital: Audiology, Reflection Room, Cottonwood Conference Room.
She received many awards in her life; among those most enjoyed was hearing from former students and being chosen Ronan Senior of the Year in 2005. Her sister Fritz made a surprise visit to celebrate that honor.
In 2012 Theresa hurt her back changing sheets. She was also tired of shoveling snow. On April 26 of that year, she moved into St. Joseph’s Assisted Living in Polson. Still healthy and active at 91, she volunteered to arrange books on the facility’s library shelves. She helped activity director, Becky Lundeen, decorate for special events, participated in bell ringers, played the piano for Sunday devotions, led the devotions when the pastor was unavailable and enjoyed participating in other activities provided at St. Joe’s. She was an avid reader, mostly nonfiction, until she lost her eyesight to macular degeneration. A lifelong learner she researched topics of interest in books and on her computer. She enjoyed working crossword puzzles and was a whiz at cribbage.
In spite of her pain from degenerative discs and losing her sight and therefore unable to do activities she loved, reading and drawing ... she never complained. “How are you feeling,” you’d ask. “I’m fine. There’s nothin’ the matter with me,” was her standard reply ... even in her final hours.
Theresa was preceded in death by her husband Jacob; her parents; six brothers, Albert, Charles, Lyle, Clarence, Wilbur and Robert; four sisters, Leontine, Roslyn, Inez and Frances (Fritz).
Survivors include her daughter, Rena (Terri), two adult grandchildren, Theresa Jade and Jacob; two great-granddaughters all of North Carolina, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial will be held 1:30 p.m. at Pablo Christian Church on Sunday, Oct. 30. Theresa requests that in lieu of flowers those who wish, donate to the charity or organization of their choice.
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