Athalie Joanne Collins Fuller, 91, of Missoula, Mont., died peacefully in her sleep on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, of natural causes. She was surrounded by her loving family. Cremation has taken place and a “Celebration of Life” will be held later this summer.
Athalie was born in Lewistown, Mont., on Nov. 8, 1928. She spent the first few years of her life being passed from relative to relative, eventually ending up in the state orphanage in Helena. At age five, she was adopted by her great aunt and great uncle and spent the rest of her childhood years in Winifred where she graduated from high school. She went on to the University of Montana and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Education and a Minor in Spanish.
On June 10 that same year, Athalie married Bob Fuller at the American Lutheran Church in Winifred. She and Bob moved to Big Sandy where he worked as a pharmacist and she taught school in Box Elder. In 1953, soon after their oldest daughter was born, they moved to Shelby. Four more children were born there where they spent the next 21 years.
Athalie put her teaching degree to work in the Shelby school district and continued to work as an educator when the family moved to Roseburg, Ore., in 1974. She taught many students, a number of whom came from other countries, and she delighted in helping them find success in both the classroom and in life.
Athalie was a devoted student of the Bible, a self-appointed guardian of the English language (!), an avid crossword puzzle fan, and she delighted in the antics of the old comic strip character, Pogo. She was a voracious reader of everything from Christian literature to spy novels. Most of all, Athalie was a prayer master. She prayed constantly for her family, for “chosen family” (relatives and friends alike), and for God’s work in the world.
She was preceded in death by her adopted parents, Fontanelle and Elliot Trotter; her husband, Bob; infant granddaughter, Abigail Judith Polk; sister-in-law, Betty Argenbright; brother-in- law and sister-in law, Jim and Jody Fuller and brother-in-law, Dick Fuller.
Survivors include her brother-in-law, Ed Argenbright, of Bozeman; sister-in-law, Lois Fuller of Walla Walla, Wash.; two daughters, Deborah (Jim) Polk of Missoula, Tracy (Steve) Williamson of Shelby; three sons, Scott (Carolyn) of Marshall, Minn., Neil of Libby and Brian (Kathy) of Tacoma, Wash. She is also survived by nine grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in Athalie’s name to Hospice of Missoula and Harvest Home Care of Missoula.