Obituary: Gayle Elizabeth Eidson

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Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 17, 2024

Gayle Elizabeth Eidson (born Lyon) of Bozeman, MT, passed away peacefully May 20, 2024 at the age of 86.

Gayle was born and raised in San Jose, CA, daughter of Tom and Lenore Lyon. Her love of the outdoors was nurtured on horseback rides with friends and her brothers, Bill and Bob.

In 1960 Gayle met Jim Eidson, then a UCSF medical student, through her friend and his cousin, Nancy Beard.

Their charmed life and 62-year marriage took off from there. Jim was offered a position in internal medicine at the Great Falls Clinic in Montana, and Gayle – always up for an adventure – agreed to the move. They raised Jeff, Jill, and Sam there, passing on the traditions of horseback riding, hunting, and fly fishing.

Gayle loved everything that lived outdoors. She was known to stop, reach down to pick up something small, share it with the kids, and teach them what it was and why it was interesting. An avid photographer, she developed her own black and white photos in the darkroom she fashioned from a bathroom. Her fireplace mantle featured baskets filled with fossils. Allowing a bit of truancy in the name of true education, she once took the kids out of school, packed a makeshift blind, and drove to Highwood to watch sharp-tailed grouse dance.

As well as being a loving wife and mother, Gayle taught elementary school in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Great Falls. She wrote a Tribune column called Gray Matters, each story highlighting the life and accomplishments of an elderly Great Falls resident. She was active in city beautification and photography clubs, learned to pack horses in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in her 40’s, took French lessons in her 50’s, and co-founded a women’s investment group.

In retirement, Gayle and Jim moved to Big Sky, MT, to be near their daughter, Jill. Gayle became the adored Grammy and Gramcracker to Jill’s kids, and a strong, happy influence to all of her grandkids. She developed new friendships. She volunteered at the Big Sky Library and joined the Gallatin Canyon Women’s Club. Birding became a big part of her life, and she spent hours at a time separating dinosaur bones from substrate as a Museum of the Rockies volunteer. She reminded us all that, no matter what we had on our plates, there was always time to enjoy nature, eat a home-cooked meal, and tell a good story.

Gayle is survived by her husband, Jim; brothers, Bill and Bob; kids, Jeff, Jill, and Sam; eight amazing grandchildren; and loving friends.

In lieu of a formal ceremony, the family asks that those who have a story about Gayle send it to We will compile and share these accounts of a life well lived. Those who wish to honor Gayle through a gift are welcome to send a donation to The National Audubon Society in her name.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service in Bozeman. []