Obituary: Helen Michaelis Dunbar

Posted at 2:43 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 16:43:03-04

Helen Michaelis Dunbar was born on May 11, 1934 at Ballentine, MT, the fourth child of John and Marie (Reiter) Michalies. Helen died March 10, 2021. Mom attended Billings Schools. Mom married Erwin D. Dunbar of Custer at the home of her grandparents, George and Eva (Hart) Reiter, in 1953 in Billings, MT.

Mom and Dad moved to Bridger, MT in 1957, where Dad was employed by the Montana State Highway Department. Four children were born to this union: Erwin (Don), Tom, Joel and Laura. The family moved to Bozeman in 1974. Mom and Dad loved to dance; Mom talked about how good of a dancer Dad was, but we know it takes two to tango. Growing up, Mom worked at a movie theater, a Five and Dime store, and a film service company in Billings. At the Five and Dime, an elderly man used to come in and ask for either a boy or girl Hershey Bar, and Mom had no idea what he was talking about. In Bridger, Mom was active in PTA, Women’s Club, the Fireworks Stand, Pinochle Club, and was a Sunday School teacher. She also worked as the Methodist Church’s Secretary, was involved with Vacation Bible School, and was a Cub Scout Den Leader, and a Boy Scout Leader. Mom helped write many plays with Marvin Pelo for the Volunteer Fire Department parties. Mom and Dad chaperoned school and church dances, to the delight of her kids. She also worked for VA Toy Distributors and IGA in Bridger.

In Bozeman, she was a Pink Lady at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, was involved with many Bible studies, was a member of a Bridge Club, and went door-to-door along Valley Center Road to raise money to get it paved. She helped Dad for many years behind the scenes with Boy Scout Troop 679 in the updated computer age world. Dad didn’t know how to use a computer, but Mom did. Mom was an early adaptor when it came to computers and her grandchildren thought she was a cool Grandmother because she owned a computer, which was actually one of many. Family genealogy was her passion; her research on family history brought surprises and smiles to many family members. Mom met many distant relatives by doing her research. She spent many hours gardening, canning, and cooking when she was healthy, always trying to make the German dishes taste as good as her Mom’s. She loved puzzles; many hours were spent at a card table putting pieces together. As her health declined, she kept active doing cross word puzzles, jumbles, Sudoku, and any other kind of word puzzles. The last puzzle I hope Dad will help her with is the silver silverware she never could find. Mom loved family gatherings and holidays, especially Christmas. Mom worked various jobs outside the home, but she said the best job she ever had was being a Mom.

Dad preceded Mom in death last August, after 67 years of marriage. She wanted to be with Dad again. She is survived by sons, Erwin Donald Dunbar of Missoula, Tom (Patti) Dunbar of Billings, Joel (Jean) Dunbar, and daughter Laura (Joe) Smith of Bozeman, and adopted son Bob {Terri} Temple of Helena. Besides Dad, the loves of her life were her Grandchildren; David of Helena, Adam (Kendra) Dunbar, Megan (Michael deceased) Dunbar of Bozeman, Stephanie (John) Young, Erwin Daniel (Bowling) Dunbar of Colorado, Bradly (Brandi), Travis, Matthew Smith of Bozeman; and Great-Grandchildren, Hunter (Bradly) of Bozeman, and Liza and Edy (Stephanie) of Colorado. Also surviving Mom, are Brother, Richard (Kathleen) Michalies, Sister, Betty Ann Strobbe, Sisters-in-Law, Vivian Michalies of Billings, and Leah Dunbar of Kent, Washington.

A funeral service for Mom and Dad will be scheduled later this summer. Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service