HELENA (AP) — A crowd of more than 150 people gathered at one of Jean Baucus' favorite spots, the Montana Club, to remember the rancher, matriarch and arts patron.
Baucus, the mother of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, died at her Helena home on Dec. 10 at age 94. She was the granddaughter of pioneer stockgrowers Henry and Alberta Sieben, and she raised her three children — Max, John and Karen — in Helena and on the family ranch 20 miles away.
The Independent Record reports that scores of people gathered Tuesday for a memorial at the Helena landmark.
Montana Supreme Court Justice Patricia Cotter recalled how the two of them became fast friends a decade ago when Cotter moved to Helena from Great Falls.
Cotter said Baucus' invitations to lunch or dinner, or simply to visit, could resemble a summons.
"We didn't say 'no' because we always wanted to come," Cotter said.
Cotter said she would frequently bring a bottle of good scotch, because Baucus believed "that friends don't let friends drink bad scotch."
Baucus was known for her devotion to the Montana Historical Society, the Western Rendezvous of Art, the Holter Museum of Art and various other cultural institutions, including the Helena Symphony and Carroll College.
She wrote several books, including one that focused on her grandfather and his ranching activities. Her other works focused on historic homes and Helena history.
Max Baucus said his mother was the family's anchor, whether she was serving him black-bean soup as a child or caring for him when he was knocked unconscious after a fall from a horse.
She later supported his decision to abandon his career as an attorney and enter politics, even after he revealed that he was likely a Democrat, a party not aligned with her view at the time.
"Family meant everything to her," Baucus said. "She would spend time with so many people because she loved people so much."
One of her grandsons, John Baucus, said he remembered once thinking, "Grandma is so cool," when her horse reared unexpectedly, but she remained in the saddle and in control.
He said he recently looked out over the ranch as a beam of light lit a hill where his older brother, Phillip, was buried after he died while fighting in Iraq.
"I just felt like Grandma was coming home," the young Baucus said.
Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com