Althea Nisley

Tuesday, August 23, 2022
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Folks who lived in The Great Depression and World War II often describe themselves as practical and thrifty, with the ability to “make do” with limited resources. They endured and persevered during drought, grasshoppers, unemployment, war, and financial stresses. Such was the life of Althea Nisley, 95, who died at the ranch in Powder River County on August 16, 2022.

Althea was the second daughter of Paul and Hilma Vaara Bruce of Boyes, Montana, and was born in the Belle Fourche, South Dakota, hospitalonNovember10,1926. Siblings included Charlene, Janet, Paul, and John. The Bruce family operated a general store at Boyes and ranched with Claude Bruce, Paul’s father. An expert seamstress, Althea’s mother often ripped up used clothing and made new clothes for her children, sewing late into the night on a treadle machine while her children slept.

Children attended school at a one-room country school with an outdoor privy in grades one through eight. World War II years saw high gas prices, and the Bruce family lived 23 miles from Broadus. There were no school buses, and the family was unable to drive those miles each day. Therefore, sisters Charlene and Althea rented a small, one-room apartment to attend Broadus High School, with Althea graduating in 1943 at the age of 16.

A shortage of rural teachers during World War II necessitated hiring some high school graduates. Those young, fresh-outof- high school students did some summer college training before beginning the instructional year. Althea was invited to teach a one-room country school at Moorhead, Montana. Fortunately, she had three extremely bright pupils, and that was just right for this young teenager/teacher. Boarding with the Russell Lawrence family and meeting the neighbors added up to an interesting job.

Another employment opportunity came with the Bell Telephone Company in Burbank, California. She acquainted herself with California while living with her grandmother, Anna Bruce. What a change from Montana life! She especially appreciated the numerous fruit trees and the beaches.

On December 29, 1945, Althea Bruce married John Nisley. At that time, John was being discharged out of the U.S. Navy, after serving his country in World War II. John and Althea were classmates at the Broadus High School. However, John had visited Althea much earlier – when he was five and Althea was four. Little Johnny accompanied his father, Otis Nisley, to the Bruce general store and became fascinated with Althea’s doll buggy with its four spinning wheels. He loved pushing that doll buggy, the faster, the better. Oh, baby -- little did those youngsters realize they would someday share a real baby buggy. The newlyweds settled on lower East Fork Creek, between Broadus and Boyes and began establishing their sheep and cattle ranch. In their early years, they ranched with John’s parents, Otis and Odessa Nisley, and John’s brother, Dan, and his wife, Susan. Odessa Nisley became a mentor and mother-in-law to Althea. Odessa was known for hergardens,canning,cooking, soap making, and household skills; she generously shared those with the grateful, young bride. With the assistance of her kind mother-in-law, Althea became adept at her ranch wife chores. In 1948, a daughter, Paula, joined the family, and Odessa Nisley again gave wise instruction – this time on childcare.

In later years, Althea and John bought a home in Sun City and spent part of each year in sunny Arizona, while still overseeing their ranching operations. When John died of cancer in August of 2007, Althea moved permanently back to their Montana ranch and resided with daughter Paula. Althea enjoyed travel, cooking, bowling, playing cards, and was an avid reader for her entire life. Her friends say Althea was an ambitious worker, an immaculate housekeeper, witty, humble, and a kind, gracious lady. Most of all, she loved country life and its natural beauty and wildlife.

Friends and family will truly miss Althea, her lessons from The Great Depression and World War II, her wonderful cooking from the heart and great conversations. When asked for advice by young students, Althea replied, “You need to take your studies seriously and to learn all you can. Also, pay attention to the teachers and respect your parents.”

As requested by Althea, there will not be a memorial service. Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Survivors include daughter Paula Nisley; grandchildren: Curtis (Kathy) Preston, Danielle (Steve) Ray, Tonya Preston (Churchill N. Tamakloe); great-grandchildren Steven Ray, Anthony Ray, Matthew Ray, Isaiah Maestas, Israel Maestas, and Churchill K. Tamakloe. Surviving siblings are Paul (Janet) Bruce, John Bruce, and surviving sister-inlaw Susan Nisley. Deceased siblings are Charlene (Anker) Tangsrud, and Janet Ondrasek. Deceased sistersin- law and brothers-in-law include Irene Field (Tom) Harper, Leona Field Lull, Sally Bruce Campbell, and Daniel Nisley.

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