Sheron Ridgway McIlhattan
May 15, 1944—March 19, 2023
On March 19th at age 78, Sheron Ridgway McIlhattan (Sherry) passed from this life to paradise. Sherry was born to Charles and Doris Ridgway on May 15, 1944 near Sheridan, WY. Her family moved to a ranch near Belfry, MT before she turned six years old. Many happy years were spent exploring the nearly 30,000-acre ranch in cattle drives and on horseback. In the 1960’s, the family moved to a ranch near Livingston, MT where she graduated from high school with honors and enrolled in MSU and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business with an Accounting emphasis. Sherry joined her beloved Chi Omega sorority and gained many lifelong friends during her time on campus.
Sherry married Craig Zakovi and had two children: daughter Tamar (1971) and Jacob (1974). Sharon worked at MSU in the Financial Services Department starting as a part time accounting clerk and eventually was promoted to Controller. She had much satisfaction working with colleagues in University Administration and the Montana State Treasurer’s Office in Helena. She worked with committees to implement software, trouble shoot financial problems, and was responsible for investments and providing departments with funds. Many of the buildings you see on the MSU campus she helped oversee. She loved the fast pace and looked forward to taking on a new challenge every day. She retired from MSU after 30 years.
Sherry and Craig divorced in 1990. In 1991 she became acquainted with her soon to be sweetheart, Robert McIlhattan (Bob) at Willies Country Dance Hall. They realized they had much in common and began a lasting relationship. They were married in Bozeman in March of 1993. Bob and Sherry built their dream home together with clear views of the Bridgers and surrounding mountains. They enjoyed many wonderful adventures over their 30 years of marriage. A favorite memory that stands out to Bob was the time they helped round up and sort cattle on horseback one cold winter with the Hougland’s on Green Mountain. She absolutely loved to ride her horse Sparky. They had a good time traveling, raising quarter horses, dancing, and riding over the years.
Sherry cherished her family. She loved her flowers, riding, dancing, going out with friends to eat. She and Bob enjoyed attending all the rodeos and Bobcat games and going on trips around the world as often as possible. If you were loved by Sherry, you were loved forever.
Despite her indomitable spirit, in 2014 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and began an 8-year battle. She went into remission 3 times with grueling chemo and radiation treatments. Each time the cancer receded, then after a year or so a different type would appear. When it spread to lungs, liver, and brain it ended her beautiful life. She passed peacefully at home surrounded by friends and family.
Sherry is survived by her sweetheart, Bob McIlhattan; daughter Tamar (Bill) Patchett and her grandchildren Jonah (Lexy) Patchett, Jenna Patchett, and Mason Patchett; son Jake (Jaydee) Zakovi; sister Sue (Rod) Beland and their sons Mark Beland and Mikeal Beland; her brother Jim Ridgway and his children Jessica (Nathan) Perius, and Sara Ridgway.
The message she wanted conveyed at her passing is this: "Heaven is my home now and I’m where I belong. I want you to be happy and try to stay strong. Don’t cry for me, it was just my time. But I will see you someday on the other side. I am not alone. The angels are with me to welcome me home. I have no fear. All my pain is gone, and Jesus took my tears. This is not the end. I’ll be waiting for you when we meet again.”
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, April 1 at 2:00 P.M. at Dokken-Nelson at 113 S. Willson Ave. in Bozeman. A reception will follow.
If anyone wishes to honor Sherry with a donation, they can be made to the MSU Rodeo Fund online at: Montana.edu/rodeo, or by texting SupportMSURodeo to 76278, or call Krista Gibeau at the MSU Rodeo Office at 406-994-2403.