In the early morning hours of June 23, 2019 at Riverside Health and Rehabilitation in Missoula, Gwendolyn Byrl Thibodeau passed away at the age of 96. Gwen was born in Carlyle, Montana on May 5, 1923. It would seem she was born to be a teacher. Gwen was raised on a homestead farm overlooking a small three-room school near Carlyle, Montana, which she longed to attend from as long as she could remember. At an early age she would line up her dolls in chairs in front of her blackboard on the front porch and teach school. Over time, that passion for teaching blossomed into a career that spanned four decades. She began molding young minds in a one-room schoolhouse in Carlyle and spent the bulk of her professional life as a first grade teacher at Franklin School in Missoula.
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After retiring from teaching Gwen devoted her life to service. She was active in her church, and many causes, including The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula (restoration of the one-room schoolhouse), Delta Kappa (retired teachers), Bonner Development Group, and volunteering for the Missoula County Sheriff’s office. She was an avid horsewoman and a proud member Back Country Horsemen. She loved riding her horse, Howdy, well into her 90's in the mountainous terrain around her home in Marshall Canyon. She lived her life loving to sing, and involved herself in numerous musical endeavors, including Melloaires, church, and organizing monthly birthday parties at Riverside.
Gwen is preceded in death by her husband of 38 years, Patrick Joseph Thibodeau; her mother, Daisy Dudley Fulton; her father, Charles Millard Fulton; and her three brothers, Dudley Fulton, Dulane Fulton and Delbert Fulton.
Survivors include: - Daughters: Jeannine Pat Helms (John), St. Ignatius; Michelle Janet Frost (Jim), Kalispell; and Annette Naranjo, Pasco, Washington. Grandchildren: Jason Helms (Jen) Missoula; Aaron Musial (Bethany) and Joshua Musial of Guelph, Ontario, Canada; Sarah Porcellato (Mirko), Penticton, British Columbia Canada; Leah Guevremont (Al), Ottawa, Ontario Canada; Elaina Naranjo, Pasco, Washington; and Manuel Thibodeau, Aliso Viejo, California; as well as 10 great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
Gwen Thibodeau was an inspiration to many who knew her. Her boundless energy, determination and spirit of volunteerism, were a testament to the secret of a long and happy life, and to keeping young at heart. She was truly admired and loved deeply by many who knew her, and continues to be a source of great pride to her family.
A Memorial Service will be held on July 13 at 12:00 Noon at Hope Baptist Church, 7498 Zaugg Drive (Highway 200 East, turn left at Milltown Post Office), with reception to follow at the church. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Association in Gwen's name. Address is CureFA.org (donate button) or FARA, 533 W, Uwchlan Ave, Dowingtown, PA 19335.