Oct. 31, 1927-Nov. 28, 2017
Willene Rowe Jennings passed away Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Butte.
She was born Oct. 31, 1927, the daughter of Ellen Hoskin and William John James Rowe in Walkerville, Montana. She was named for her father, William.
Willene spent the first days of her life in relative comfort in a shoe box lined with cotton wool on the oven door of a coal and wood range. She was the first of twins and weighed less than three pounds at birth. The twins were baptized on May 5, 1928, at St. John Episcopal Church.
Willene grew up with her twin sister, Doreen, and two older sisters, Geraldine and Violet. Willene's mother, Nellie Rowe, busied herself caring for her mother-in-law (Martha Jane Prime Rowe), two small children and premature twins. A neighbor, Mrs. Bettison, along with her daughter Marjorie was kind enough to babysit Willene, easing the strain on her mother somewhat. As a consequence, she grew up knowing two homes and calling Mr. and Mrs. Bettison "Poppa Betty" and "Momma Betty." When Marjorie later married she had yet another family to look after her. She has many happy and fond memories of being with the Bettison and Richards families as well as with her own family. She attended Blaine Elementary and graduated from Butte High School.
After graduating from high school Willene worked as a bookkeeper at Emil Marans Dress Shop. She frequently ate lunch at the Duck Inn on Broadway Street and in 1948 met Joseph Tremblay Jennings. It was after meeting Joe that very few people called her “Willene” anymore as she goes by the more familiar "Billie.”
Billie and Joe were married on Feb. 12, 1950, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Butte, Montana.
The couple moved into Joe's family home and shared the home with Joe's father until the latter‘s death on Jan. 18, 1953. In 1962 a daughter, Joyce Marie, was born. When Joyce was in the third grade, the Hot Lunch Program was started at the McKinley School. Billie volunteered her time along with other P.T.A. (Parent-Teacher Association) members to help with the program. The School District decided to employ one person to be in charge, asked Billie, and she accepted. She stayed with the program until 1987.
Billie and Joe enjoyed fishing and camping. Billie crocheted beautiful dollies and most of the members of the family are lucky recipients of her work.
Billie is survived by her loving husband, Joe; daughter and son-in-law, Joyce and Dan James; granddaughter, Alisha James; brother-in-law, Steve Popovac; Karen Steele and Carmie Dunbar, who were like daughters to Billie; and good friend, June Tressider. Numerous nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews also survive.
A memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Duggan Dolan Chapel. In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to an animal organization since Billie was an avid cat lover.