Esther Marie (Johnson) Beaulieu, 95, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Sunday at her son Edward's home in Seattle.
Mrs. Beaulieu was born on March 21, 1914, to Swedish- Americans, Oscar (Slim) and Maria Johnson, in Havre, Mont. She was the second child born of four children. It was often a very tough life, as her mother died when Esther was 6, and her father didn't remarry until in his later years. She learned good work habits at a very young age. She and her older brother Leonard used to make bread every day for the family. They helped their father make the dinners and do chores. Esther did the indoor chores, and the boys did the farming chores. She grew up on a wheat farm between Kremlin and Box Elder. Those homesteading days were often very challenging but also very rewarding. She and her family were members of the local Lutheran Church. In high school, Esther was captain of her basketball team she was 5-feet, 9-inches tall, the tallest player on her team. During their high school years, she and her brother Leonard boarded in Box Elder with family friends. The 10 miles to the farmhouse was a long distance during the winter months. When Esther graduated from Box Elder High School in 1932, at a time when jobs were scarce, she found a position at the Morris Caf in Havre. This is where she met her fianc, Edward Beaulieu, in late 1933, They were later married on July 28, 1934. Edward was a civil engineer working on a project in the Havre area at that time. After their marriage, Ed returned home to the family's Mission Valley ranch in St. Ignatius to assist his widowed mother on the farm. He and Esther started their family of eight in St. Ignatius with the birth of their first three children. They farmed in St. Ignatius until 1945. During the Depression and the war, they were happy to be farming, as there was plenty of food for the family. Esther was one of the few blue-eyed blondes in St. Ignatius, and she married a man whose family was from one of the French speaking provinces of eastern Canada. This couple was quite the mlange! While living in Great Falls from 1945 until 1959, the other five children were born. Edward's career allowed the family to move around the state from Great Falls to Canyon Ferry, then on to Dillon and finally to Conrad. In 1969, Edward retired from the Bureau of Reclamation and the couple retired in Great Falls. Upon the death of her husband in 1996, Esther and Edward had been married 61 years. Esther was a woman who could have had many careers, but she instead made homemaking her lifetime project. She was an intuitive, modern woman and in tune with what was happening around her. She was a devoted mother, a friend to each of her children and grandchildren, and a woman of honesty and integrity. She was a fabulous cook and shared her recipes with every family member and friend. Her friendly, curious disposition allowed her to meet strangers easily. She will be forever missed. Survivors are her sons, William, Donald and Edward Jr. Of Seattle, Larry of Scottsdale, Ariz., and David of Great Falls; daughters, Marilyn (Richard) Hensley and Carole (Theodore) Roosendahl of Whitefish; 11 grandchildren; 14 greatgrandchildren; and three great-greatgrandchildren. Mrs. Beaulieu was preceded in death by her loving, devoted husband, Edward Beaulieu; her loving daughter, LaVerna; granddaughter, Deborah Ann; and grandson, Brian Beaulieu. Services will be 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Faith Lutheran Church at 3125 5th Ave. S. in Great Falls. There will be a reception afterward in the church basement.