Wanda Marie Racine, 64, a lifelong resident of Badger Creek/Old Agency, Mont., passed peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 21, 2021.
She was born to Calvin (Doaks) and Alfreda (Bremner) Racine on Dec. 23, 1956, in Browning, Mont. She was raised on the original Racine homestead (Aaron and Agnes Racine) with her parents, siblings and many cousins. Wanda was a proud enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation.
Wanda was the only one of her six siblings to receive the polio vaccine after her first birthday. She contracted polio after receiving a live vaccination in 1957. This completely paralyzed her left leg. During her childhood, and lifetime, Wanda required many surgeries and hospital stays. Wanda suffered much pain over the years from post-polio syndrome.
Even though Wanda did not have the use of her left leg, she still loved to ride her horse, Whiskey, and it never deterred her from participating in family softball games on the creek (where she was often the pitcher) or going to the family’s favorite swimming hole (her siblings say they could not get her out of the water), nor did it prevent her from actively supporting her brothers at numerous rodeos throughout Montana or attending many a basketball, wrestling, football or softball game. Her siblings, cousins and friends made sure to always include Wanda in whatever activity they did themselves. She was never left behind.
Wanda loved growing up and living at the base of Glacier National Park. She would “cruise” to the mountains often. She enjoyed family picnics in the park and at the lake, where her family swam, fished and spent many hours around a campfire.
She was her family’s biggest cheerleader in the stands, which continued with her own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. A few times Wanda was so spirited at games that she was gently wheeled out (ha!).
Wanda attended school in Browning, where she graduated from high school in 1976. She attended the University of Montana for a year before returning home. When her brother, Calvin, was in the Army, he was stationed in Clarksville, Tenn. Wanda and her young daughter, Laura, moved to join him and Fran. She then returned home to Browning, where she lived for the rest of her life.
In 2012, she graduated with her Associates Degree in Office Management from the Blackfeet Community College, of which she was enormously proud of. Her years attending school at BCC made her incredibly happy and fulfilled.
She worked for various tribal programs in secretarial and supervisory positions. Wanda worked for the Blackfeet Community Hospital (Indian Health Service) for many years in both the old and new hospitals. Many may remember her voice as the switchboard operator and paging people over the hospital intercom. She worked in Personnel until she was medically and physically unable to work any longer.
Wanda was a single, loving mother to Laura and Josh. She worked hard to raise her children and helped to raise many nieces and nephews (including our many friends!). We never saw our mother as handicapped, because of how hard she worked as a mother and at her job. What we saw was a woman of strength, who amassed an incredible amount of dignity given her many physical and medical conditions.
In 1993 Wanda met her soulmate, Tim DeMille. They were devoted to one another and were together twenty-four/seven. They enjoyed each other’s company immensely, playing cards, growing a garden, cleaning and watching their “shows” together. Tim took great loving care of our mother, always.
Family was vitally important to Wanda, and she was devoted to them. Her door (and a cruise on her electric wheelchair) and her heart were always open. Wanda’s kindness to everyone was well known to many.
Wanda is survived by her mother, Alfreda Racine; her lifelong companion, Tim DeMille; her children, Laura (Dan) McGee of Billings, and Josh (Sherry) Racine of the family home in Badger Creek; grandchildren, Tiara (Jake) McGee-Bauer, Tyler (Tyla) Guardipee, Danny McGee, Aliyah McGee, Mason Racine and George Racine; great-grandchildren, Brooklyn and Eliana Bauer; her siblings, Linda Sue Racine, Calvin (Fran) Racine and Ladean (Frank Wagner) Racine; her aunts, Betty Ann Hall and Joyce Conway; many special nieces, nephews, (including their children) cousins and friends.
She is proceeded in death by her dad, Calvin (Doaks) Racine; sister, Laura Ann Racine; brothers, Jesse Dale and William (Bullhead) Racine; her brother-in-law, Ronnie Rose; her grandparents, Aaron and Agnes Racine, and George and Ida Bremner.
The family wishes to thank the EMTs, the nurses, doctors and medical staff who tried to revive our mother.