December 13, 1938 ~ September 18, 2013
Our sweetheart of a Mom, Sylvia Lillian Stugelmeyer, passed away cradled in the arms of her daughter on Sept. 18. We take comfort in knowing she was walking with God and our Dad
was there to take her by the hand and release her from her pain.
Mom was born to Joe and Irene Smith on Dec. 13, 1938 at the family farm near Fort Peck. Our Grandpa nicknamed her “Snooks.” She was the great-granddaughter of Montana Pioneers and was proud to remain the owner of her grandparent’s centennial farm.
Coming into this world at the end of the depression and near the close of construction of the Fort Peck Dam, she grew up knowing the value of hard work, appreciation of others and always considered her cup runneth over. As her parents sought work during WWII, it took their family to Bremerton, Wash. and back to Columbia Falls where she was baptized and confirmed at Our Saviors Lutheran Church and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 1957.
Not long after graduation a handsome hard-working farm kid from South Dakota swept Mom off her feet. She married our Dad, Clarence “Sonny” Stugelmeyer on Oct. 17, 1958 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Together they worked hard to carve a future for our family. They were the owners of Stugelmeyer Trucking which brought them to Conrad during the 1960s for the Minute Man Missile Project. During this time Mom worked at Prairie View and Meadowlark Schools as well as the assistant
to the County Superintendent of Schools before retiring in 1999.
Mom and Dad truly spent a lifetime of loving and caring for each other. It was easy to see the magic between the two. To watch them on the dance floor took our breath away — they made it look so smooth. Or to simply see them enjoying the sunshine on the tailgate of their old Ford truck with a thermos of coffee laughing and swapping stories so effortlessly. And, listening to them converse on the
2-way radio between Mom’s kitchen and Dad’s shop with their “code” language that dinner was ready was really quite charming. Their relationship was well respected and we were proud to call them our parents.
Their activities revolved around us kids. If the activity didn’t involve including Jay, Janet and Jodi, well it simply wasn’t worth doing. When Dad’s business took him across Montana, Mom followed with kids in the 1964 16-foot Bell camper. She could make a trip to a gravel pit in remote Montana seem like a trip to Disneyland. Her spunk and everyday enthusiasm always created an adventure for us which normally didn’t cost a penny. She took us to the farm each summer to work with our grandparents. Mom became the head cook and bottle washer, often cooking for all of our cousins as well. Her favorite time was preparing for a picnic along the Missouri River at our yearly family reunion while attending the Wolf Point Stampede. Beyond farming, her parents also owned the Nashua Bar. Each day she would send us to town early in the morning to help Grandpa swamp the bar. Jay stocked the beer cooler, Janet dusted the bottles on the back bar and Jodi washed the ash trays and cleaned the bathrooms. We were rewarded with quarters to play the juke box and a game of pool. We were all below the age of 10. As adults, we know every child labor law was broken during this time, but Mom reassured us she didn’t think there were any long-term negative side effects of learning how to work together.
Mom loved to cook. She never knew a stranger. All friends were a welcomed guest at our table usually leaving with a hand-made gift and a plate of food for a midnight snack. Thoughtful, considerate and attention to detail … that was our Mom.
Mom called her granddaughters Jayme, Jill and Annie, her “Sugar Babes.” They spent much time with her learning to cook, quilt, crochet, memorizing poetry, piano lessons and daily field trips. When they arrived at her home they were greeted with hugs and kisses, a warm bath, a home cooked dinner, and fresh linens from the clothes line on the feather bed. They loved her. How could you not? Mom was proud to have twin great-granddaughters Jayde and Jaylee, Cheyenne, and her first great-grandson due in November. Mom was so desperately trying to hold on for November.
You see, our Mom knew the secret, pay attention to all the little things each day for in the end they created our biggest and most memorable moments. We are so thankful she was our Mom.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband Clarence; parents Joe and Irene Smith; brother Richard Smith; and sister Mary Ann Francis. In-laws Emanuel and Katherine Stugelmeyer, Walter (Adeline) and Melvin Stugelmeyer, Lorraine (Benny) Zimmerman, Leona Deloy, Sharon Stugelmeyer and Adam Klein.
She is survived by her son Jay (Cyndi) Stugelmeyer of Evanston, Wyo., daughters Janet (Mike) Denman of Missoula, and Jodi Beth Stugelmeyer of Laurel; granddaughters Jayme (Brad), Jill (Branden) and Annie Kathrene; and great-grandchildren Jayde, Jaylee, Cheyenne and a new baby in
November. She treasured all of her nieces and nephews. Also surviving are in-laws Earl (Anita) Stugelmeyer and Punky Hulm of Lemmon, S.D., Duane Francis of Columbia Falls, Laverna Klein of Missoula and Linda Stugelmeyer of West Virginia.
A family service was held on Sept. 23 at the St. John’s Ministry antique little white church in Billings Heights. Family graveside service was held Sept. 24 at the Laurel Cemetery.
Our beautiful Mom, she was eager to love, quick to protect, ready to praise and anxious to give of herself
and her possessions.
May God watch over us until we meet again.
Memorials are suggested to the Billings Clinic Foundation, P.O. Box 31031, Billings, 59107-1031