Harriet Speelmon

Rosary vigil for Harriet Speelmon will be held February 12, 2018 at 7 PM at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Ekalaka. Funeral services will be February 13, 2018, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church at 11 AM with lunch to follow at the Parish Hall. Interment will be at a later date.

Harriet Speelmon departed this earth on January 14, 2018 at her home in Ekalaka, MT with her daughters Dolly and Sally at her side.

On June 20, 1929, Frank and Clara (Berg) Nies welcomed Harriet Ruth, their fifth child, to the family in the Spring Valley community. Harriet attended school at Fairview School for one year and Ekalaka elementary through the eighth grade. She graduated from Carter County High School in 1947 with her friend, Mabel Claire Welch, who had been a classmate from day one.

On May 25, 1947, the week following graduation Harriet married Kenny Speelmon. Since Harriet was not quite 18, her mother had to sign a consent for her marriage. Clara reasoned since Harriet was getting married, she needed to hurry up so she could get a garden planted that year. The couple made their home on the Speelmon ranch just south of Ekalaka.

In August 1948, Kenny and Harriet’s first daughter, Mary, was born followed by Paula, Frances (Frankie), Richard (Dan), Theresa (Dolly), Kristine and John. In 1958 Kenny and Harriet purchased the Gene Turbiville place at Mill Iron and moved there to ranch. The family grew to include Sally, Jacqueline, Ken, Jim, Tom, Caralea (Mish) and Amy.

As a teenager, Harriet worked for the Roberts family at the drug store in Ekalaka as a soda jerk for .10/hr. After she married she spent her life working with her husband on the family ranch raising cattle and sheep. Harriet raised huge gardens with flowers galore and the only plants she disliked were noxious weeds. She believed in the importance of managing the range and the younger kids recall every horseback ride turned into a range management quiz as Mom knew every grass, shrub and tree and she would test their knowledge.

Harriet’s table always had room for at least one more and over the years she and Kenny opened their home and extended their love to many kids. Harriet’s devout Catholic faith never wavered and she was very active in her church for as long as she was able. When she could not attend Mass, she watched it on television. Her rosary was never out of reach. Her first priority was family and family values and this led to her being chosen as Montana Mother of the Year in 1999.

Harriet was a strong community advocate, loved kids and their activities and spent many years as a 4-H leader, school board trustee and as a superintendent at the county fair. She was deeply involved with the American Legion Auxiliary and loved her trips to Girls’ State as a chaperone. In 2010, Kenny and Harriet moved from the ranch to Ekalaka to the house her grandmother, mother and sister owned before her.

Harriet is survived by her children Mary (Dean) Tarter; Paula Plog; Theresa (Michael) Collins; Kris (Tom) Brophy; John (Jean) Speelmon; Sally (Bob) Young; Jacqueline (Mark) Lockwood; Ken Speelmon; Jim Speelmon; Tom Speelmon; Mish (Dave) Leidholt; Amy (Rick) Wallace; daughter-in-law Joyce Speelmon; 31 grandchildren, 24 greatgrandchildren; brother Robert “Butch” (Carole) Nies; and 4 sisters-in-law.

She is preceded in death by her parents Frank and Clara Nies, her husband Kenneth Speelmon, daughter Frankie Davis, son Dan Speelmon, grandson Thad Plog, daughter-in-law Heidi Stieg, brothers Jim, Roger and Bernard Nies, and sisters Thea Powell and Willa Nies.

Memorials may be made to Beaver Lodge Cemetery, Carter County 4-H Council, Carter County Museum and the Ekalaka Swimming Pool.