Oct. 19, 1916 ~ Feb. 17, 2013
Born Thelma Sylvia Madslangrud in 1916 to Norwegian immigrant parents Anne and Thorvald Madslangrud on a homestead farm five miles north of Chester. In 1920 she moved with her parents and siblings to a dairy farm that they purchased in Lewistown. In 1929 her father Thorvald tragically died from a fall off of the dairy barn he was building. It was the Great Depression and like many families, they struggled to make ends meet. Thelma being the second oldest, was delegated to taking care of the four younger children as her mother worked the farm.
In 1932 Thelma with her family moved to Glasgow where the Fort Peck Dam was under construction. There her mother bought a large home and opened a Boarding House. When World War II broke out, Thelma and a couple of her girlfriends moved to Los Angeles to work at the Lockheed Aircraft Factory there. She was an original “Rosie the Riveter” installing pilot seats into bombers and fighters. It was during this time she met her first husband Glen Good and they were married just before he joined the Army and went to Europe. Glen made it through the war but was wounded three times earning one Silver and two Bronze Stars for bravery only to be killed in a car accident outside of Wallace, Idaho just a couple of years after the war. Thelma was also injured.
In 1951 she met and married Bill Bissertt. They first lived in Billings and then Great Falls for a little while as Bill was a sales representative for the Sherwin Williams Paint Company. They settled into Conrad in 1955 where they purchased the Marias Hotel. For 40 some years Thelma ran both the hotel and a profitable beauty salon. In 1958 Bill and Thelma adopted a young girl named Sheila who was seven at the time.
In 1992 Thelma and Bill retired and moved to Kalispell to be close to relatives and lived for a short while with sister-in-law Coral and Dave Fyall before moving into their own home. Bill later became ill and moved into the Veterans Home for care in Columbia Falls where he later passed away in 1999. Thelma moved into Kalispell’s Brendan House in 2006 where she received much loving care from her two nieces Renae Solum and Neoma Anderson and the many wonderful nurses and care providers there. Thelma was quite a good artist and oil painter. She also enjoyed antique collecting and refinishing classic old furniture. Throughout her life Thelma was a God loving woman who exemplified what is to be known as “The Greatest Generation”. She survived many historical challenges and personal heartaches with courage and a smile. She once said that she was so blessed to have so many good people caring for her. Truthfully, it was really us who were blessed to have such a wonderful woman in our lives to care for.
Thelma passed away at 96 years old and is survived by survived by her daughter Sheila and husband Paul Renner of Spokane, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren, 11 nieces and nephews, sister-in-law Coral (formally Rude) Fyall of Kalispell and brother-in-law Al Ploss of Mesa, Ariz.
She is preceded in death by her parents Anne and Thorvald and five siblings, Norma Dunn, Elmer Rude, Edna Darroch, Kenneth Rude and Ina Ploss.