Beverly Ruth Bellusci, 90, passed away on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at the house Albert Bellusci built and she made home for her husband, six children, grandchildren and countless friends who were always made to feel like family. Al and all her children were with her, along with two of her grandchildren and son-in-law. Many others were there in spirit.
The perpetual motion machine who was Beverly Bellusci was born on Nov. 14, 1931, in Missoula to Helen and Robert Chivers. Her father worked for the Milwaukee Railroad and she and her brother, Stan, grew up in Tarkio, attending a one-room schoolhouse that was a mile and a half from the Chivers home. Beverly made that daily trip on foot during the school year with Spike the Airedale, her favorite canine. Bev attended high school in Superior, where she was not only a cheerleader, but crowned Snow Queen for Mineral County in 1948.
Resilience and determination were hallmarks of Bev’s character and she was no stranger to tragedy. Her father died in 1949, when Beverly was only a high-school junior. The family packed up and moved to Missoula, where Bev graduated from Missoula County High School and attended the University of Montana while her mother ran a boarding house on East Fifth Street. Helen, deaf since childhood, and Beverly communicated in some spoken words and American Sign Language.
In 1952, she wed her high-school sweetheart, Richard Campbell, a military man who took Beverly to Fort Bliss, Texas, where son Roger was born in 1954. After the service, the family moved to Bozeman so Richard could attend Montana State University and in 1958, daughter Susan was born.
Again, tragedy. Shortly after Susan came into the world, Richard was killed in a motorcycle accident. Always the supportive younger brother, Stan got the family back to Missoula and helped Beverly adapt to her new life as a young widow with two little ones.
The oral history of the Beverly and Albert Bellusci family, told hundreds of times around the dinner table, begins with a dream of Bev’s that she happily recounted many times, she always wanted to marry an Italian and rear six children. Thankfully for her family, her wish was granted.
Enter Albert “Babe” Bellusci, an engineer, pilot, adventurer and bachelor from an Italian immigrant North Side family. Their mutual mailman who delivered more than just the mail arranged for Bev and Al to meet at the Fireman’s Ball in the winter of 1960. Sparks must have commenced, because the pair were engaged to be married just six weeks later and on May 28, 1960 the two were married. A short honeymoon was cut even shorter by the fact that Bev had spent very little time away from her two little children and wanted to return home. Al rolled with that. The pair came home to East Missoula where Bev’s plan was made manifest. In 1961, Brian was born. Then Mark in 1962. Michael followed in 1964 and Christopher made No. 6 in 1969. The Bellusci Clan was established.
Beverly worked outside of the home over the years, including running the Bellusci’s drive-in, The Shanty, next door to the family home. Among the challenges of running a family drive-in with the family was keeping the kids from conning staff out of ice cream. Beverly had to establish a rule for staff that her children only got a treat if they had a note from her. Thus, began her children’s short-lived careers as forgers. The restaurant closed after a few years because there was other work to be done.
Marshall Grade, a lovely meadow bounded by Mount Jumbo and the Clark Fork River, was largely undeveloped in the 1960’s. Bev and Al bought acreage on Jumbo and in the meadow. Working evenings well until dark and every weekend over a two year period, Al built Beverly’s dream home. The Bellusci family moved into their new home in 1971. Over the next 50 years, the home has been a work in progress, always with additions and no subtractions, a refuge for family and friends, a place where the food was always plentiful and good, a cup of coffee was waiting, a garden was growing and flowers were blooming.
A visitor to the Bellusci homestead wondered why there were chairs in the home, because no one remembers ever seeing Beverly really sitting down. From early morning to late at night, she was on the move because things needed doing. Kids and Al needed to eat, get to school and work, the garden needed tending, clothes needed washing, the house needed to be neat and clean, friends needed help, the community needed volunteers and Beverly was on the case, every day, without complaint. Organized, bossy as necessary to keep the Bellusci trains running on time, funny, compassionate, interested in the world, opinionated, wise and always optimistic, Beverly Bellusci was a force of nature.
4H leader. Election judge. St. Patrick Hospital volunteer. Caregiver for her mother Helen. Second mom to many. Cheerleader for kids and grandkids. Maker of feasts. Founder and keeper of traditions. Holiday decorator.
Beverly made it all work and was beloved. Her 80th birthday filled a hotel ballroom. Her 90th was quieter because of the many ailments that plagued her in later years. She didn’t let the pain and suffering of disease define her, ever, as it does so many folks who live long enough. Until she absolutely couldn’t do something, Bev kept doing it until the very end.
Her husband Al will remember his loving wife anxiously awaiting the Sunday phone calls from all her children. Her brother Stan remembers her being in her kitchen from early morning to late at night and enjoying every minute of it. Oldest son Roger remembers his mother’s incredible strength and protectiveness of her two young children after the loss of her first husband, and willingness to share stories of Richard through the years so he would never be forgotten. Only daughter Susan recalls the numerous camping trips the family went on and how she worked so tirelessly to prepare for her families’ needs, great food, dry clothing and plenty of blankets during their adventurous days in the mountains. Brian reflects on what a caring, selfless, loving person, and how fortunate to have her in the lives of her children and grandchildren, whom she deeply loved. Mark remembers his mother as the family nurse, dealing with the many bruises, cuts , stitches and broken bones associated with raising 6 active children. She healed us all with her loving touch. Mike remembers his mother in the garden she loved, carefully planting and nurturing the vegetables that would eventually make their way to the dinner table. Youngest son Chris remembers never leaving the house before school without a hot, sit down breakfast to start the day. And of course, sourdough pancakes every Sunday. Warm food, from a warm heart.
The second and third generation Belluscis enjoyed the same love, attention and interest their parents did. As the clan grew, often in distant locales, Bev kept up with all the kids and their progress in life. She and Al visited them, and they got to visit the headquarters in Marshall Grade, where Grandma Bev more often than not had a fresh batch of monster cookies waiting for them.
One of her grandchildren succinctly captures their grandmother:
“Earlier this week, our family lost their matriarch. Bev Bellusci was the strongest woman I’ve ever known, a strength you’d never know the depths of unless you knew her well. I know Grandma Bev will be remembered by so many family members and loved ones, but she will also be remembered in the smallest and greatest of gestures. She showed her love in many ways; in the warming of plates for a meal, the endless scent of coffee and cookies that came from her kitchen, and the feeling she gave you when you entered her home. Thank you for giving us all the stubbornness and willfulness and tenacity that seems to run in our blood, and for being such a caring and steadfast mother, wife, grandmother and community member.”
In the last year of her life, Bev was fortunate to witness the birth of her namesake, Beverly, born on Al and Bev’s anniversary in May. Grandma Bev lit up holding her latest great grandchild. In August, she sat in the first row as she witnessed her granddaughter Cory’s marriage to the newest addition to the family in the very garden that Beverly created. Until the very end, it was always about family above all else.
Beverly lives on in a million ways in the family home where she is more than a memory. She influenced so many, provided an example of how to live life nobly and in the service of others.
Beverly is survived by her husband Albert Bellusci, her children: Roger (Lisa) Campbell, Beavertail; Susan (Ben) DeMers, Missoula; Brian (Cathy) Bellusci, Bothell, WA; Mark (Darcy) Bellusci, Anacortes, WA; Michael (Goran) Bellusci, Munich, Germany; Chris (Sharon) Bellusci, Bend, OR. Grandchildren include: Derek (Kelly) Campbell, Angela Campbell, Beavertail; Chelsie Rauch, Bend, OR; Kylie Rauch, Missoula; Cory (Austin) Pearce, Missoula; Katie Bellusci, Cameron Bellusci, Bellingham, WA; Tara Bellusci, La Conner, WA; Ben Bellusci, Seattle, WA; Megan Bellusci, Bellingham, WA; Connor Bellusci, Bozeman; Amanda Bellusci, Bend, OR; and great-grandchildren: Mikayla Campbell, Birch Bay, WA; Dylan Campbell, Issaquah, WA; Beverly Campbell, Beavertail; Kaitlyn Campbell, Beavertail. Beverly is also survived by her loving brother Stan and his wife Betty of Rochester, NY, and also leaves behind her Son-in-law Troy Rauch of Missoula, as well as nieces, nephews, extended family and dozens of others who loved and were loved by her.
For those who wish to make a donation in Beverly’s name, she gave to Missoula Aging Services and liked any charity that helped children.
A celebration of Bev’s life will be held on a future date when family and friends can gather safely outdoors.