Mary T. Christians fell and severely broke a few ribs a couple weeks ago at her apartment. Being the tough Irish woman we all know and love, she said “I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in”. However, the injury took its toll and with grace and dignity, she passed on October 5, 2020 with family by her side.
Mary Theresa (O’Brien) Christians, 89, of Denton and East Helena, MT, was born January 9, 1931 in Dublin, Ireland, the daughter of Patrick and Josephine (Hennessy) O’Brien. She was one of three children. Mary grew up in Dublin, and in her words, she was “raised in a proper way” by attending Catholic school and going to mass often. Her spunk came naturally—she would share an occasional story of how she was often in trouble with the Nuns at school, then disciplined by her strict Mother, all the while receiving smirks and smiles from her Dad. Mary carried that tradition of smirks, smiles, and humorous ways right up to the end, saying “just throw me to the wolves”! We replied “We did, but they threw you back!”.
Mary met, fell in love and married William A. Christians III, who was in the Air Force, stationed in England and on a duty assignment in Mary’s hometown of Dublin, Ireland. After a short courtship, the two married on May 19th, 1953 in the Dublin Pro-Cathedral. While they were stationed in England, they began their family with the arrival of William A. Christians IV. Being a good Catholic Military family, they were stationed in numerous locations and had four more children: Marie in Wisconsin, John in Pleasanton and Kathy in Crescent City, California and Karl in Rapid City, South Dakota. While stationed in Rapid City, they started ranching in the Black Hills. Mary ran the small ranch and raised five kids by herself while Bill was stationed in Alaska. They eventually bought the ranch on Everson Bench north of Denton in 1972.
The Denton ranch life kept Mary on her toes while keeping an eye out for Bill. She burned up and down the roads and fields on her blue three-wheeler keeping track of him, scaring everyone around thinking she would have a wreck. Keeping with her typical Irish stubbornness, she proved everyone wrong, a trait she was practiced frequently! Even though she seemed to be allergic to everything on the ranch, she was still baling hay, giving rides, and checking the bred heifers, her favorite chore. Her 4-foot and change tall stature was recognized by all. “Great things come in small packages!” All the critters loved her and understood her, even the cows, for whenever she would trip over a frozen pie in the middle of the night, and land on top of a cow she was checking, they would seemingly understand “Oh, it’s only Mary... it’s all good.”
Mary was quite the sportswoman—she participated in the NRA and taught gun safety, did trapshooting in Rapid City Ike’s Trap Club and Cheyenne Municipal Trap Club, bowled in more state tournaments than we can count, hunted fowl, big game and small game, and was even able to shoot a nice mule deer buck last fall with her trusty ol’ 6mm.
After Bill passed away in early 2019, she moved in with Karl and Rae Lynn in East Helena. As with everywhere she went, she gained numerous new friends and enjoyed many booze cruises in the side-by-side checking cows, crops, hay and pasture…even spot lighting coyotes one evening until late! Mary eventually got her own apartment at an independent living facility in Helena and while Covid limited her visiting, she gained more friends, and left a lovely Irish impression tickling everyone when she got her mail and asked “Did I win a million yet?”
As Mary would frequently say “Here’s looking up your Kilt”, “89 is only a number”, “here’s to you and here’s to me and I hope I never die,” but her most favorite of all “AWESOME!” Her final words of “Love ya loads” will resonate forever. We’ll miss you Mum! “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” –Shakespeare
She is survived by her five children, Bill of Wilsall, Marie of Hobson, John (Laurel) of Wolf Point, Kathy Rogers (Steve) of Fayetteville, Tennessee, and Karl (Rae Lynn) of East Helena, numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchild and many relatives in Ireland.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, and her husband.
Funeral Mass for Mary T. Christians will be Thursday October 8th, 2020 at 11:00 am in St. Leos Catholic Church in Lewistown with committal to be at the Montana Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison in Helena on October 9th, at 1:00 p.m. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Friends are asked to make memorials to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society or the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.