The joyous, beautiful, deeply loved Marie Gary passed into the great mystery beyond on Friday, January 28, 2022. She departed this life surrounded by family after a short valiantly fought battle with an autoimmune disease diagnosed less than a year ago. Marie’s lungs gave out, but her great big heart will sustain her loved ones.
Marie was born in Bozeman on February 16 in an indeterminate baby boom year, the first child of Joe and Peg Gary. She was soon joined by her sister, Joan, and then by brothers, Brian, Brett, and Mark. It was a raucous, laughter-filled household, always bulging with her friends and ours. Marie welcomed them all with a smile that took up her whole face, saying everyone’s name with music in her voice.
Marie’s love for the whole shebang radiated outward from her being: her openness to the world and its possibilities gave her a vital feminine presence, an aura. She had a giant warm soul, and everyone who met her could immediately sense that about her. Her soul just kept getting bigger and deeper as she aged because she spent her life being open to the universe and its blessings, its beauties, and she garnered its wisdom. She nurtured her soul and love was her connecting force.
Marie loved people—starting with babies, and her own children received as much motherly love as is available in the human and animal world. She was furiously devoted to her children, Ryan Matzinger, Megan Matzinger Gartner, and Mollie Morrow. She was their mama to the end—their protector, confidant, champion, nurturer, healer, nursemaid, chef, chauffeur, teacher, friend, guide, and their port in life’s storms. She was on course to be the same for her grandchildren—Matia (daughter of Megan and Ryan) and Dakota, Gracie, and River (son and daughters of Ryan and Lindsey). Her many nieces and nephews knew her magic and thought her grandchildren would have “the best Grammie ever.”
Marie grew up in Bozeman, was educated in the Holy Rosary schools, graduated from Montana State University, and spent most of her life in Bozeman. She married Dennis Matzinger, and together they had Ryan and Megan, while living in Gillette, WY, where they were both teachers. In the ensuing years Marie returned to Bozeman with Ryan and Megan, and soon became the owner of her own AllState insurance agency. She married Tom Morrow, and with him had their daughter, Mollie. Some years later, after her beloved children had grown into adults, she married Kirk Seitz, who died of cancer in their tenth year of marriage.
While raising her kids, and running her successful business, Marie was an inveterate doer, a joiner, and a great and giving citizen of Bozeman. She was a Bozeman booster to her core. She was on the board of Jazz Montana, the Bozeman Film Society, she was a 33-year member of and onetime president of the local Kiwanis chapter (the first woman president of a Kiwanis chapter in the entire country after Kiwanis International allowed women). A passionate and loving Bobcat fan and booster, she was on the Board of Directors for the Bozeman Film Society, was a past board member and President of the Kids in Crisis Backpack Foundation, chair for the Bozeman CASA Project (Court Appointed Special Advocates), was deeply involved with Eagle Mount, 11th and Grant, the Bridger Ski Foundation, and an ever-present regular at the various local pancake breakfasts/spaghetti feeds sponsored by our local charitable foundations.
She loved the natural world and putting her strong athletic body in motion in the outdoors, whether it was hiking (with her dear friend, Leanne Schraudner), skiing at Bridger Bowl, or with her skiing pals at Big Sky. She kayaked, sailed, bicycled, water skied, and relished time at her cabin on Hebgen Lake, where she paused to be thankful and to be in awe of the beautiful world. Marie gave thanks to the universe every day.
Given the opportunity, she danced. Music and dance filled her with joy. Dancing was a form of communion to her—celebrating sound and motion with friends and strangers. Few things made her happier than dancing to the music made by her son, Ryan, or dancing with nieces and nephews and her children at family gatherings. Marie’s loving partner during the last years of her life, Charles Jones, can really dance. Their love for one another took off on the dance floor. Charles danced for Marie on her last day on earth. We will never forget that loving act.
Marie loved being with people. She had many friends whom she dearly loved. She relished a good party because that’s where the laughter was. No one made her laugh more in her life than her dear sister and best friend, Joan. They laughed together their whole lives. The last time they were together—a mere 10 weeks before Marie’s death—they sat on a beach in Hawaii and laughed all afternoon, despite all the pain she was enduring from her illness.
Laughter was the balm. Love the medicine. Dance the communion. Nurturing others her act of devotion. Marie had the great fortune of being the one child of Peg and Joe who lived in Bozeman in their adult lives. This meant she was able to have more of them in her life, and that Ryan, Megan, and Mollie were able to grow up with Grammie and Grampie as constants in their lives. It also meant that as her parents aged Marie became their greatest advocate, shouldering and carrying them through the difficulties of old age and dying. It would have been impossible for her siblings to adequately thank her for all the love and attention, devotion, and kindness she gave to our parents. It certainly deepened our love for her, and our appreciation of Marie’s toughness and strength. She had a backbone of steel. She came into the world a fighter and went out that way. Her family chortled at her signature determined stride, with arms swinging wide and head bowed forward. We are delighted to observe that her granddaughters inherited that same gait. It will serve them well.
Spending time with Marie was a gift because it meant one could bathe in her warmth, be reassured by her inveterate optimism, and be reminded the universe has magic in it—if one is open to that magic. Marie’s soulful, positive outlook made her an anchor for friends and family, and the kitchen table in her beautiful house was at the center of that anchorage.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention that Marie had a gorgeous head of thick black curly hair. It was her crown. Being beautiful was, for Marie, an attitude toward the world. She bedecked herself in rich hues—blues and reds, purples, and violets, accentuated by her red lipstick, and great earrings, necklaces, and scarves—all of them bowing before her glorious head of hair. We’re quite sure her dad’s last words on earth were “you have beautiful hair.” But her core beauty was carried in the timbre and musical notes in Marie’s voice and laugh, and her constant outward expression of joy and thankfulness in being alive. Marie loved, was not afraid to love, gave love, and was deeply loved. She will be missed more than we can possibly express.
Marie is survived by her son, Ryan (Lindsey) of Bozeman; daughter, Megan (Ryan) of Bellingham WA; daughter, Mollie of Los Angeles; and her grandchildren, Matia, Dakota, Gracie, and River. She is also survived by her partner, Charles Jones, of Bozeman. Her surviving siblings and their spouses are Joan Robinson (Mark Howard) of Seattle, Brian (Lisa) of Seattle, Brett (Amy Bentley) of New York City, and Mark (Diane) of Seattle. Her nieces and nephews (maybe her greatest fans in the universe) are Shea Robinson (Lindsay Rucker), Will Howard, Erin Howard, Anna Gary (Jon Dameworth), Julia Gary, Joey Gary, Annabelle Gary, Ruby Gary, Rachel Gary, Connor Gary, and Laurel Gary. She is also survived by many cousins from both her parents’ sides.
Marie was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph B. and Margaret R. (Peg) Gary; and her late husband, Kirk Seitz.
Marie’s family would like to offer our deepest thanks to the nurses and doctors in the ICU at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, who took such great care of Marie—and her loved ones—from Thanksgiving Day until mid-January when she was transported to the Kindred Care facility in Seattle, where she also received excellent care, and where she passed away.
A celebration of her life will be held sometime in the summer of 2022, when it is safe for family and friends to gather and remember Marie and join in the communion of dancing together to commemorate a wondrous person who led a splendid life. Contributions in Marie’s name can be made to Eagle Mount Bozeman and Haven.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]