Norma Jean King

Norma Jean King

(HAYS) Norma Jean King – He Mani Wi – “Mountain Walks”, 77, peacefully departed to the Creators home after a lengthy illness with her family by her side in her loving home at the foothills of the Little Rocky Mountains in the community village of Mission in Hays, Montana on Saturday, September 7, 2019. A rosary be recited at the St. Pauls Mission Church at 7:00pm where a wake will follow at the St. Pauls Mission Rec. Center on Wednesday September 11, 2019. Funeral services will be held Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 11:00am at the “Thunderdome” gymnasium at the H/LP School in Hays. Norma was born on March 18, 1942 in Fort Belknap Agency to James W. Gardipee and Clemence M. Doney. She grew up in the “Rock House” near the St. Pauls Mission along the Little Peoples Creek just out of the Mission Canyon in the Little Rocky Mountains. She later moved within the Hays community behind Kerns Store where she worked as a store clerk. Norma attended grade school and high school at St. Pauls Mission in Hays. She was actively involved in most school events and functions and received many rewards for her participation on those various extracurricular activities. She was never afraid to take the lead in many tasks and events and education and her faith was always her passion. Along with her clerk job she worked with her brother Chris “Tuffy” Gardipee at the St. Pauls Mission Ranch as a ranch and farm hand. Her jobs included caring for livestock, farming the land, driving hay truck and tractor and mechanical work. In May of 1960, Norma Graduated high school and on Jan 12, 1963 married the love of her life, Leon King where they became known as “Duke” and “Gootch”, living and raising their family in Hays. She worked as a clerk for Kerns store until 1969 where she began working as an Aide at the old Hays School. It was there where she decided to extend her passion in education so Norma worked and went to college all at the same time. She enrolled in the first of its kind in the area “distant learning” program called Urban Rural out of the College of Great Falls. The satellite classes were based atthe old Hays School Campus in a trailer. In 1975, Norma graduated from College of Great Falls with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She applied at the Hays School and immediately started working as a teacher as she began her long career in education. Norma was involved in the formulation of the Hays/Lodgepole School district where began the legacy of the Mighty Thunderbirds. She was avid in assisting or coordinating any extracurricular activities in not only teaching but as a cheerleading adviser, event organizer, class sponsor and many other school related duties in Hays and Lodgepole. She taught all but two of her children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 1988, Norma graduated to her Master’s Degree in Education Administration from MSU in Bozeman. Norma received many certificates in education and moved from teaching at the elementary level to the Jr. High and High School levels, eventually working her way up to Principal also in those three levels. She attained working at the highest level as Superintendent. In 2012, Norma semiretired dedicating all 43 of her working years to the Hays/Lodgepole School District. Up to 2017 she worked as a substitute teacher, a presenter and a religious teacher for the Mission Grade School and the Hays and Lodgepole schools and as an Adjunct Professor for the Aaniiih Nakoda College. In failing health Norma stayed between her home in Hays and Billings. She stayed active by crafts, sewing and beading. Norma was a proud cultural member of the Little Shell Metis Tribe and embraced her husband’s Assiniboine culture also. She loved to travel to pow wows and would sew and bead regalia for her grandkids. She also crafted many star quilts for give a ways and ceremonial events. She looked forward to the Hays Pow Wow every year and made sure her camp was just right for family to stay. It turned out to be a traditional family event. Norma was devout to the Creator in many faiths. Although she was raised Catholic, she participated in many congregations and tribal traditional ceremonies. She was led into the church by her mother Clemence and followed her lead but making it unique in her own way. Her favorite ceremony was the weekend walk with God called the Cursillo. In 1986 she made her first Cursillo in Fort Belknap Sacred Heart Church. From there she participated, organized and lead many Cursillos in many communities throughout the region. Within years, that fellowship spawned a spiritual moment. A huge family of Sisters in Christ developed and bonded a great loving relationship together. She grew as an icon to the Cursillo and was always there to help guide in spiritual advice or just simple prayers for assurance. Norma participated or organized many spiritual events. She held many Ultraya’s, prayer meeting’s, and was always there to fellowship with someone. Many people treasured her advice or example as she dedicated a lot of time to her faith. She loved the Mission Church! She spent many hours keeping the church tidy and on track for each holy season and Mass. Norma help organize a church delegation of volunteers to modernize and remodel the church. Most done by out of pocket expenses, new pews were brought in, the floor was refinished and a hall was built in the basement; later dedicated in her honor. Norma loved not only to give to the church but also to her community. She was a very generous person. She made sure all her kids and grandkids knew of the Creator God and the meaning of prayer, love, and giving. She was a person who thrived on loving and living for God, staying steadfast, never cutting corners but finishing out devoutly. Surviving are her children, Mary & James Kirby (Bridgette) of Billings, Toni and Leona Jo of Harlem, Chantel Blackwolf and Karen (Hawkan) Haakanson of Hays. Adopted son, Jeremy King & adopted Grandson, Clayborn Grant of Hays, Todd (Bailey) Messerly of Lamedeer and Barry Beach of Laurel. Adopted daughters Angie (Floyd) McConnell, Ione (Raymond) Snell, Anaya Grant, LaQuenae Gardipee and adopted granddaughter Aleena Walker, her best friend Carmelita (Mark) Blackcrow all of Hays. 33 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great granddaughter. Brother Rodney Gardipee of Eugene, Oregon and sister Marjorie Seaman of St. Ignatius, Montana, many nieces and nephews. Preceding herin death are husband Leon “Duke” King, son Kelly Gardipee, stepson Scott Plummer, parents James Gardipee & Clemence Doney. Brothers Christopher “Tuffy”, Philip, & James Gardipee. Sisters Velma Flansburg, & Hazel Carter and grandson AJ Longsoldier. Arrangements are made by Wilderness Funeral Home, Chinook.

One Review on Norma Jean King

  1. Toni and family, I send my sincere condolences and will keep you in my prayers.

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