Leota Marie Funk Donnelly

Thursday, July 8, 2021
Leota Marie Funk Donnelly

Leota “Marie” Funk Donnelly, 90, passed away peacefully in her sleep on June 6, 2021, after one of her typically busy days.

Marie was born December 31, 1930, to Juanita “Marie” Kaiser and John “Bud” Jones in Helena, Montana, the middle child of five. A child of the Greasy Mouth clan and a member of the Bad War Deeds clan, she was proud of her Crow Indian heritage.

She grew up in Helena and graduated early from high school and attended Carroll College, but chose to marry rather than pursue a nursing career.

On July 30, 1949, at the age of 18, she married Robert Funk in St Helena Cathedral. They had 15 children. She loved children, especially babies, and the home was often filled with neighborhood kids who she treated as her own.

Marie was a devout Catholic; her abiding faith saw her through the dark times in her life. She not only believed in miracles, but expected them and saw their fruition. She was a woman of incredible energy and an organizational whiz, raising homemaking to a fine art while doing an admirable job of keeping an unruly hoard of children in check. Marie and Robert divorced after 23 years and with 10 dependent children, she moved from Helena to Billings.

Thereafter she returned to school, eventually earning a master’s degree in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation. She essentially completed a double major in art and produced a body of work, which included sculptures, textiles, watercolors and collages. She worked for several years in her chosen field and then, six months after she had started the job on which she’d set her sights, working with a good friend and colleague, she contracted throat cancer. A subsequent laryngectomy was performed, after which she needed an electronic voice prosthesis to communicate. That put an end to her counseling career, but she returned to school and studied art for another two years. Her interests included art, music and dance. She had a quick, curious mind and loved to read.

Marie was preceded by her parents; husband, Robert Funk; brother, Bud Jones; and children, Robert Michael, Stephen Edward and Peter Damian Funk; daughters, Bernadette Mary Funk, Annie Funk Clark and Ruth Rochel Stokes, née Cecilia Marie Funk.

She is survived by brothers, Thomas Smith and Edward Jones; sister, Elizabeth “Chicki” Phillips; her children and their spouses, Theresa Janine (Sam) Hamrick, Margaret Eloise Howes, Timothy John (Peggy) Funk, Joseph Matthew Funk, Joan Elizabeth (Jim) Norby, Christopher Louis (Ji Sook) Funk, Helen Marie (Brent) Olness, and Rita Caroline (Bob) Gazewood; as well as a bevy of grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, nieces and nephews too numerous to count.

A special thank you to Heritage Acres Nursing home in Hardin, Montana for the love and care they provided to our beloved Marie.

Marie will be remembered for her beauty and grace, creativity, generosity of spirit, determination, profound faith and courage and the fact that she loved to dance! She will be sorely missed by the many whose lives she touched in countless ways.

A Rosary will be held in Marie’s honor at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 19, 2021 at Retz Funeral Home in Helena, Montana. Funeral Mass will be on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at St. Helena Cathedral with interment at Resurrection Cemetery directly following.