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Mary Exene (Cheek) Russell

Mary Exene (Cheek) Russell    Mary Exene (Cheek) Russell, 85, a former farm wife and homemaker, died of natural causes Oct. 18, at the Pondera Medical Extended Care Facility.
    Funeral Services were held Oct. 22, at the Conrad First Presbyterian Church. Pondera Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
    Exene was born Feb. 13, 1922, to Gar and Bertha Cheek at home on the Cheek ranch in Liberty County. She attended elementary school at the Ashmore, Pondera and Selma Schools. Exene and her brother, Marvin, started high school together in Conrad, boarding at the Carl Dyrud home. Joplin built a new high school and was in search of students to live in the dorms, so Gar signed Exene and Marvin up to go there for their sophomore year. However, they returned to Conrad to board for the last two years, graduating in 1940. Following graduation, she and Clifford Russell eloped and were married in a double wedding with friends, Vic and Winnie (Haynes) Lenoir, in Missoula on July 2, 1940.
    Cliff and Exene purchased the “Halverson” place after their marriage and farmed in the Ledger area. They maintained a home in Conrad during the years their children were in high school. They moved to the Horizon Lodge in 1996 and Exene has resided at the Pondera Medical Extended Care Facility since Sept. 2003.
    Exene was a 4-H Leader, member of the Pondera Toole Extension Homemakers, member of the First Presbyterian Church, enjoyed bowling for many years and she and Cliff were avid square dancers. Exene gave much of her time to her church and did volunteer work at the Pioneer Nursing home where she was named Volunteer of the Year. Exene was an excellent cook and was hostess for an uncountable number of large family dinners with the food usually all being raised on their own farm. She helped with the chores, gardening and other jobs on the farm. Exene was a strong lady who met and overcame many obstacles after suffering a major stroke in 1981.
    Survivors include her son, Marvin (Judy) Russell, of Conrad; daughters Hazel (Larry) Munson, of Devon and Linda (Stuart) Gessner, of Penn, N.D.; sister, Violet White, of Sun City, Ariz. Grandchildren, Carla McNamara, of Shelby; Brad (Debbie) Munson, of Devon; Joe (Lourdes) Russell, of  Conrad; Mark (Lori) Russell, of Polson; Jeri Lynn Russell, of Reno, Nev.; Rusty Gunderson, of Helena; Angel (Craig) Ruch, of Columbia Falls; Lee (Bonnie) Gessner, of Penn, N.D.; and Kim (Paul) Lunde, of Jamestown, N.D.; 14 great-grandchildren; and numerous loving nieces and nephews. A nephew, Roy Duncan, of Kenai, Alaska, resided with the Russell family for a number of years.
    Exene was preceded in death by Clifford, her husband, of 61 years; her parents; grandson, Tim Russell; brother, Donald and wife, Ella; and brother, Marvin and wife, Vivian.
    Memorials are suggested to Pondera Medical Extended Care Facility, Conrad First Presbyterian Church or charity of donor’s choice.