Billie Hamma, 94 of Missoula Montana passed away Monday, February 7, 2022 at St Patrick’s Hospital, Missoula, Montana.
Billie Irene Jones (Orphey, White, Hamma) was born April 3, 1927, the oldest daughter of Jesse Frank and Ethel Jones. She had two older brothers Jessie and Alva, and two younger sisters Clarcy and Diane.
She lived most of her life in Whitefish, graduating from Whitefish High School. At school, she was a member of the Whitefish Drum and Bugle Corps. She amassed a wealth of life lessons. Billie, along with her family played many different string instruments as her father made violins and fiddles. Her favorites were piano and accordion, but she was also learning mandolin and guitar.
Billie married Paul Orphey in 1947. They built a home on the west shore of Whitefish Lake, where they raised their three children: Carol Ann Orphey (Antrim), Judith Elaine Orphey (Newlon) and David Allen Orphey. Billie and Paul owned and operated a small engine repair shop in Whitefish for a number of years. When Paul was no longer able to work, Billie ran the business. Paul died in 1983.
She sold her beloved lakeshore home, married Bob White and moved to Libby, Mt. Bob and Billie moved back to Missoula to be with family and to watch her two grandsons grow up. Following Bob’s passing, Billie joined the City Clicker Clogging Dance group that traveled near and far to share their Senior Citizen talent. They clogged on a cruise ship, in Washington DC, at Mardi Gras and many other venues.
Billie was also active in the Senior Singles and Mixed Doubles bowling leagues. There she met Charles Hamma. They married and bought a house on Missoula’s southside. Charlie passed in 2008. Billie remained there until 2021.
Billie was a resourceful, independent woman, modern day pioneer. From a young age she would gather great quantities of huckleberries, cherries, plums, and other fruits to can and bake with and make jellies and jams. She grew a victory garden to support the war effort and had an amazing green thumb for flowers. Growing up on Whitefish Lake was a dream for her, entertaining family with big picnics and bonfires. Fireworks on the 4th of July was a tradition with towns people gathering to watch fireworks over the water from their dock.
There was never a dull moment in her life with bears wandering in and out of her yard, deer, skunks, raccoons, and mountain lions all paying a visit.
Billie made beautifully decorated birthday, wedding, graduation, and other cakes. She was happy to teach anyone who asked how to make cakes and decorate them. She and her grandson Chris, together made his wedding cake when she was just a few days out of the hospital after surgery.
Billie always shared stories with her friends and family. She attended school in a box car one Whitefish winter when the school boiler broke down and a warm place to hold class was needed. One of her favorite stories was before the road was paved into Whitefish, the family made a road trip to Southern California in the family’s Ford Model-A. She and her sister were settled in the rumble seat for the whole way.
Another of her many favorite stories was when lightning struck the lake, traveled thru the water pipes, and exploded in her kitchen sink, leading to the saying, “Don’t stand over the pump in a lightning storm.”.
She always said “The secret to a long fulling life is to not stop. Why sit around when there is so much to do.” These were not just words. She could be found shoveling snow in her 90’s, fixing a roof, changing a tire, gardening, fishing, playing with her dog Smokey, and just making people smile with her sparkling personality.
Cherishing her memory are her children, Judy (Rick) Newlon; David (Bobby) Orphey; sister, Diane Wiklund; three grandchildren, Chris (Melissa) Newlon; Michael (April) Newlon; Kenny Blondin; great grandson, Christopher Jack “C.J” Newlon; nieces, nephews extended family and friends.
Billie was preceded in death by her parents, Jesse, and Ethel Jones; husbands, Paul Orphey, Robert White and Charles Hamma; sister, Clarcy Stidham; brothers, Jesse Harvey Jones, Alva Jones and daughters Lisa Irene Orphey (infancy) and Carol Ann Orphey (Antrim).
We shall miss you Mom, Billie, Grandma, and Friend.
A memorial gathering will be held with family and friends later this year. Online condolences may be left at the Garden City Mortuary at gardencityfh.com. and passed on to the family.