Mary Helen (Kiehlbauch) Mielke, 91, of Sunburst, Mont. passed away of natural causes at the Marias Care Center on July 25, 2021. A service will be held Aug. 13, at 2 p.m., at the Sunburst Methodist Church with a luncheon at the church to follow burial.
Mary was born Aug. 28, 1929, in Great Falls, Mont. to Otto and Inez (Tabor) Kiehlbauch. She spent the majority of her life on the family ranch in the shadows of the Sweet Grass Hills, both as a child and as a wife and mother.
Mary received her elementary education at the O’Loughlin School where she would ride on horseback. She graduated from Sunburst High School at the young age of 16, and then attended the University of Montana (Missoula, Mont.) for a short while, before transferring to Billings Business College where she met her future husband, Charles “Chuck” Mielke. After a brief courtship they were married on Dec. 28, 1947, at the Sunburst Methodist Church.
They lived in Sidney, Chuck’s hometown, for a short time before moving back to the Sweet Grass Hills Ranch where they ranched with Otto and Inez. They were blessed with three daughters, Gayle, Susan and Laura.
Mary worked hard raising a family, cooking for haying and harvest crews and gardening. She also liked to have fun playing cards with neighbors, dancing, having coffee and a visit and boating on Flathead Lake. An avid reader, Mary enjoyed being a part of the Sunburst Book Club. Mary was a longtime member of the Sunburst Methodist Church and was involved throughout her life in the community, being active in United Methodist Women, Coutts-Sweetgrass Lions Club, VFW Auxiliary, Marias Museum and Marias Medical Center Auxiliary.
For many years as a VFW member, she wrote the “Sunburst News” for the Shelby Promoter. Attending school and community events was something Mary enjoyed very much, rarely missing an event in which her children or grandchildren were involved.
She is survived by her daughters, Gayle Phillips, of Great Falls, Mont., Susan (Alan) Romers, of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Laura (Joe) Simons, of Sunburst; grandchildren, Alyson Phillips of St. Paul, Minn., Scott Phillips, of Mount Maunganui, NZ, Chad Romers (Stina Turner), of New Braunfels, Texas, Justin Romers, of Fountain Valley, Calif., Bryan (Courtney) Simons, of Sun Prairie, Wis., Andrea (Spencer) O’Brien, of Reno, Nev., and Brett Simons (Madie Westrom), of Helena; and great-grandchildren, Jocelyn and Maeryn Simons, of Sun Prairie, Wis.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Chuck, and parents, Otto and Inez.
Donations may be made to the Sunburst United Methodist Church, Coutts-Sweetgrass Lions Club or a charity of your choice. Condolences can be made to www.asperrfh.com.