Margaret Mary Brabeck


Margaret Mary (Zimmerman) Brabeck passed away at her home at The Springs on Nov. 25 with her family by her side.

A wake with praying of the rosary will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Garden City Funeral Home. 1705 W. Broadway, Missoula.  Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Nov. 30 at 10 a.m.  Rev. Gary Reller will be officiating.  A reception will immediately follow.  Private burial services will be at Old St. Mary’s Cemetery.   

Margaret was born to loving parents, Aaron Lawrence and Alice Gertrude (Winter) Zimmerman on April 4, 1918 in Sioux Falls, S.D. 

Margaret grew up on a wheat farm east of Conrad.  Along with her two younger brothers, Margaret helped her parents with many daily farm chores.  Though they endured years of drought, grasshoppers and hail, the Zimmerman family had many happy times together attending square dances, card parties and box socials.  Though times could be difficult, the family always had what they really needed:  plenty of good food and great friends. 

Receiving her early education in a one-room schoolhouse where she had an excellent teacher, Margaret continued her schooling at Conrad High School where she graduated as her class Salutorian in 1936. 
Enabled by an academic scholarship Margaret first attended the University of Montana. Later, she attended Nettleton Business College in Sioux Falls.  Margaret’s first job was in the Business Office of the Conrad Mercantile.  From there she went to work at the Toole County Court House processing wheat loans and crop insurance.

On Jan. 5, 1942 Margaret married Leonard L. Brabeck of Berwyn, Ill.  Margaret met this handsome “city slicker” while visiting her brother and her mother’s family in Chicago during the summer of 1941.  A short courtship with copious correspondence and several cross-country trips ensued.  The couple was married at St. William’s Church in Shelby.  Neighbors and friends treated the young couple to a “shivery shivaree” by parading them around town in the bed of a pick-up truck in 24 below zero weather.  They thawed out on their honeymoon trip to Chicago.

Margaret and Len made their home in Berwyn, Ill., for 28 years.  There they raised their eight children with a firm and loving hand. A stickler for honesty and effort, Margaret expected her children to do their best always.  Her motto was: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!” Margaret was a loving mother who could effectively manage her brood with just a stern look.  Margaret was an excellent homemaker and cook.  Our home was always neat, clean and nicely decorated for holidays.  Mom’s Sunday and holiday dinners were amazing!  Homemade rolls, pies, cookies and cakes topped off meals of fried chicken, breaded pork chops and homemade soups.  Margaret managed to participate in church and school activities during these busy Berwyn years by being a Cub Scout Den Mother and a St. Mary of Celle Altar Society member.

In 1970, the family moved to Missoula.  Always a country girl at heart (and proud of it!) Margaret was delighted to be back in Montana.  Her husband, Len, quickly grew to love Montana as well. 
Again, Margaret became an integral part of her church and community.  Mom was a member and past president of the Missoula Women’s Club, a member and 25 year volunteer with the St. Patrick’s Hospital Guild, a longstanding volunteer (along with Len) with Meals on Wheels, a St. Anthony’s Altar Society member (specializing in running Bake Sales) and a Mall Walker.

Margaret’s hobbies included doing beautiful handiwork, playing cards, baking, cooking, listening to country music and raising a beautiful and bountiful garden.  Mom was born with two green thumbs.  Her houseplants thrived under her tender care.  Her pride and joy was her “Fluffy Ruffle Fern” which won Mom a “Best of Show” Ribbon at the Missoula County Fair.  She nurtured it for 66 years having received a tiny start from her mother-in-law in 1946!

Mom was a hard worker known for her kindness, humility and quick wit.  The love, admiration, and respect her children felt for her knew no bounds.  She will be deeply missed by friends and family alike.

Survivors include her brother, A. Lawrence Zimmerman and his wife, Lorrine; her children and their spouses:  Judy Miller (Hank), Bill (Margaret, “Jr.”), Jim, (Rosie); Jeanne (Pat Thane), Joe (Rachel), Mary Alice Wontor (Jim); her daughters-in-law, Pam and Kelly; her 25 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephew, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Margaret was preceded in death by her parents, Alice and Lawrence; husband, Len; brother, Herb; sons, Lenny and Larry, and grandson, Allen.

Our family would like to sincerely thank the many staff members at both the Village Senior Residence and The Springs.  Your care and kindness enriched Mom’s life and ours.  We send a special “Thank You” to Mom’s dear helper, Lauren, from Home Instead.  You are truly a blessing to all in your care.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church or the American Diabetes Association.
Condolences may be left for the family at .