Leona Grande Raines Green
5/17/1934 – 3/14/2023
“Vaer Sa Gud”
A grand lady, Leona Grande Raines Green, age 88, went over the great divide on March 14, 2023. Visiting with her favorite companion from her Missoula Manor apartment, she left us instantly as she was talking, laughing, and singing old songs over the phone.
Our beloved mother and grandmother was born on May 17, 1934 in Billings to Arthur E. and Mildred Cubbison Grande, the third of seven children: Eugene, Bernice, Leona, Tom, Rod, Marion, and Vivian.
Leona’s family moved around during her childhood in the Big Timber and Reed Point areas, eventually settling on Blue Creek, near Billings. It was here that her first husband, Willard (Gus) Raines used to ride over the hills from lower Pryor Creek to join the usual sing-song activities of Leona and her family and friends, singing, dancing, playing guitar, and pitching woo.
Married on October 31, 1952 in Lander, WY, Mom and Dad spent their wedding night above the main street as a Halloween parade was in full swing and the town was in celebration mode!
The whirlwind began of building their own cattle ranch from the ground up soon after spending several years living in cow camps while Dad worked for the Antler Ranch of Wyola. When Dad decided to earn his Bachelor Degree in Agriculture (with Honors), she worked as a waitress and secretary of Student Testing and Counselling at MSU-Bozeman. Theirs was a strong partnership in every way that matters in a marriage.
When they began to piece together their ranch on Pryor Creek (near his mother’s allotment), they built a brand new home with the help of Ernie Ziegler, a neighbor who owned Ziggy’s Lumber. There, they ranched with their daughters, Gail and Charlotte until Dad was killed in a car wreck in April, 1970. The family home was
burned to the ground on the 4th of July the same year. The most special folks from Pryor completely furnished a cute little trailer house that belonged to the Stovall family near the town of Pryor. Mom moved us in and worked at the Pryor Trading Post for Opal Green, who later became her mother-in-law.
The next move was Leona’s decision and she stood by it to her last day. She married James Green. They threw their ranches together, even though his was at the upper end of Pryor Creek, and hers was at the lower end of Pryor Creek, he bought an old Thompson Trucking tractor and trailer, eliminating the old way of trailing cows to and from summer pasture. Busy times, good times, good neighbors, and there was Leona, one of the best ranch cooks in Montana keeping the crews fed, doing the books, raising her and Jumpin’ Jimmy’s son, James C. Green, Jr. (JC). Not only did she know how to cook for crews, she knew how to get to the right spot at the right time, every time.
After a traffic accident rendered their son, JC a paraplegic during his senior year of high school, Leona devoted the rest of JC’s life to his care and maintenance at great cost to her own personal life. After JC succumbed to his long-fought battle to live in 2016, she moved from Pryor Creek to an apartment in Billings, close to her eldest brother, “Uncle Gene”, until he moved to St. Johns.
In 2020, she moved to Missoula and into her own apartment just as Covid-19 was beginning to ravage Montana. She spent those couple of years working on her scrap books to give to the family, reading up on history, particularly cowboy stories, Montana Indian history and stories, and was in the process of making a recipe book of her old favorites for her kids and grandkids. She especially enjoyed visits with her grandsons in Missoula, Caylon and Mo, spending hours catching up on Mo’s latest movie collection and attending the boys’ activities and events.
She came home to Billings for Thanksgiving this year and the family was blessed to have her stay over until February, enjoying Christmas and New Years, and visiting, dancing, and singing again with her old crowd and new friends.
At the time of Leona’s death, she was busy preparing to return to Billings to be with all her Montana grandkids and her friends. We were always reminded of her quiet strength and were blessed in it. She was a woman of God and believed that the 10 Commandments were the rules we all should live by. She did not need to gather together or go to a specific building to worship. She was much stronger
and more focused when left on her own to decipher and move forward in faith. She was a beautiful soul, a survivor. She was a rock.
Leona was preceded in death by her husband, Gus Raines; her son, JC Green; sisters, Berniece Boelter; Marion Patterson; her brothers, Gene Grande, Rod Grande, and Tom Grande.
Survivors include her sister, Vivian Pinkerton, daughters, Gail Raines, Charlotte (Alexander) Kornev, Barbie Green DeGraw: granddaughters, Danielle (Michael) Pisano, Deirdre Singer (Damon), Megan Voss, Eleni Haloftis and Ianthe Haloftis; grandsons, Ierotheos Haloftis, Josh DeGraw, and Matt DeGraw; great grandsons, Sage Raines McCleary (Lilyanna), Eugene Spotted Horse, Moses Yellow Robe IV, Caylon Yellow Robe, James (JC) Raines, Caleb Evans, Aaden Evans; and one great-granddaughter, Vivian Singer, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
An intimate gathering will be held with family after cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life Gathering for Family and Friends will be held June 24, 2023. Plans are underway for the Shindig and will be announced in the near future!