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Marion Brandvold

Marion Kathryn Nehring was born on the stroke of midnight, April 19/20, 1912, to Bynum homesteaders Edward and Minna Nehring. Her early years spent on the family ranch spawned her lifelong love of horses, cattle, and the ranching lifestyle.  She graduated from Bynum grade school and attended Choteau High for a year.  Her mother decided Marion needed some education towards proper “ladylike” behavior, so took her to Cincinnati, Ohio, the original family home. Marion’s school records were not accepted by Cincinnati schools, so she enrolled in Telegraph School instead.

While in Cincinnati, she discovered a love of ballroom dance, and she eventually performed with such well-known dancers as Gene Kelly, Buddy Ebsen, Fred Astaire, and Rudolph Valentino. She also became quite good as a telegrapher, once even relaying messages dual-key to direct the rescue of a foundering ship’s crew off the New Jersey coast. However, her love of horses, ranching, and Montana were always her driving force.  While at telegraph school, Marion met and married Clifford “Trex” Trexler on Oct. 27, 1927, and they subsequently moved back to the ranch at Bynum.

During the Depression, Marion and Trex worked many jobs in addition to trying to hold the ranch together. One of those jobs was for a jeweler and lapidarist in Great Falls. In 1937, the jewelry store went bankrupt, and Trex received its assets as compensation for unpaid wages. Marion and Trex then opened the Trex Agate Shop, a wholesale and retail store that is still family owned and operated.  Their first son, Clifford Marion Trexler, was born in 1933.

The family businesses expanded during the 1940s, and a partner took over the retail store in Great Falls while Marion and Trex continued the wholesale and manufacturing operation from Bynum as well as operating the family ranch. The ranch was also sold/exchanged for one closer to Bynum. Their second son, David Lee, was born in 1955.

Marion and Trex reopened a retail shop in Bynum shortly before Trex’s death in 1962. In 1965, Marion married John Brandvold, a master plumber.  In the early 1970s, it became a family passion to display fossils from the area, and in 1978, Marion discovered the first dinosaur baby bones recognized from North America - the first baby dinosaurs in a nest found anywhere in the world. This discovery led to a renewed global interest in dinosaurs, and it changed human understanding of both dinosaurs and modern animals. 

Marion continued to operate her retail shop until her memory began to fail at age 97, and she spent the last few years of her life at the Teton Nursing Home. Her excellent care made her final years happy and comfortable, and both she and her family were (and are) extremely grateful to that institution for their wonderful work.

Marion passed away on June 5. She is survived by her husband, John, sons Cliff (Jane) and David (Laurie), six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Trex, and a great-granddaughter, Serena.

Visitation was held on June 10 at the Gorder Jensen Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on June 11 at the funeral home with interment in the Choteau Cemetery following.  A potluck Memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on June 15 at the Bynum Civic Park.  

 

Memorial donations are suggested to Teton County Nursing Home, the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center or to the charity of your choice and the betterment of the community.  Online condolences may be left at www.gorderjensenfuneralhome.com .