Marva Kirby Christian died on August 6th, 2022 peacefully and surrounded by her family. She was 81.
Born at home on January 2nd, 1941 near Mohall, North Dakota, 35 miles north of Minot, North Dakota – when asked “Why not Minot?” her husband Cal would faithfully reply “Freezin’s the reason” – Marva Mae Kirby was the incredibly loved daughter of Floyd and Mae Kirby and the younger sister to Dan Kirby. Her parents were proud farmers and owned a convenience store where Marva worked at Renville Corner, which would later become known as Kirby’s Corner. After a brief flirtation with the University of Minnesota, Marva decided to instead head west, and attended the University of Montana Business School. Marva achieved many things while a student at UM. Most notably, she was the head cheerleader at UM, and was a Ski Nautique synchronized skier. Even considering all of these extracurricular achievements, Marva would go on to finish number one in her class, and would eventually pursue a career in teaching.
Marva married her husband Cal Christian on July 21st, 1961, and the couple welcomed their first child, Kirby Christian, in 1962. As Cal was still working his way through law school – he graduated from UM Law in 1963 – Marva simultaneously was tasked with raising her newborn, teaching at Sentinel High School in Missoula, and supporting Cal as he made his way through law school – it is still not clear to this day which of them required the most patience on Marva’s part.
After Cal’s graduation, Marva and Cal moved to Polson where they settled into a small home. Cal took up the practice of law with Keith McCurdy, while Marva taught Spanish and Business at the local school. The couple welcomed their second child, Clayton Christian, in 1965, and eventually Marva, Cal, Kirby, and Clayton would move to a home on Bayview Drive in Polson, MT, where they lived for many years thereafter, and which remains in the family to this day.
Marva, Cal, Kirby and Clayton were an adventurous lot, making frequent family trips into the Bob Marshall wilderness. Additionally, the family enjoyed snow and water skiing, and all sorts of outdoor recreation. Marva was known as an adept water ski puller, and even took her turn behind the boat from time to time.
In 1974, the couple welcomed their third child, Keith Christian. Wanting to adventure beyond Montana, Marva and Cal gradually moved their family to the Big Island of Hawaii between 1984 to 1986, where Cal ran cattle at Mauna Kea Ranch (formerly, Kukaiau Ranch) while Marva shuttled Keith up and down the mountain for school. Marva always looked back fondly on her time in Hawaii, and had a true connection to the islands throughout her life.
In 1988, the couple moved back to Montana, settling in Missoula, where Cal joined Kirby and their longtime friend and partner Richard Samson in the practice of law, while Marva worked as a real estate broker in western Montana and served on the board of the UM Foundation after a stint as chairman of the board of Western Bank of Billings. While in Missoula – where they have lived ever since – Cal and Marva have been steadfast supporters of UM football and men’s and women’s basketball, and have enjoyed attending the UM symphony multiple times per year – something Marva especially loved due to her fondness for playing the piano. Marva would often be seen around Missoula in her Audi Convertibles, which she proudly owned since 1994. Despite her many
accomplishments in Missoula and beyond, however, Marva’s proudest achievement was undoubtedly always her boys, to whom she was an incredibly loving, compassionate, and wonderful mom.
Eventually, Marva and Cal would be fortunate enough to welcome eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren to their loving family. Marva was nothing if not an incredibly caring “gramme” – she was a fixture at her grandchildren’s sporting events, band/orchestra concerts, graduations, weddings, and more, and made it her personal mission to always make sure that the lake house in Polson was immaculate when summer weekends would draw friends and family to her Bayview retreat in droves. She never exuded anything except true kindness and grace towards her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Truly, if scientists were to grow the perfect wife, mom, grandmother, and/or great-grandmother in a lab, Marva would be the result.
Marva was perhaps best known for being sweet and kind – attributes that she quite literally embodied. Indeed, even though she was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease late in life, she never lost these true and inherent qualities. She lived with Alzheimer’s for approximately five years and moved to The Springs in Missoula this past February. Cal visited her almost every day, and made sure that she wanted for nothing while she resided there. Her room was decorated with some of her favorite artwork, pictures of family, and sported a mini-fridge stocked with her beverage of choice – Coca Cola.
Marva is survived by Cal, her husband of 61 years; Kirby, Clayton, and Keith Christian, her loving sons; Barb, Dawn, and Kellie, her incredibly lucky daughters-in-law; Lauren, Lyndsey, Bridger, Carson, Colter, Jordan, Maggie, and Olivia, her wonderfully unique grandchildren; Theo, Nora, and Max Sokoloski, her great grandchildren who knew her as “tutu;” and Dan Kirby, her cherished brother.
A celebration of Marva’s life will be held on Friday August 12th, 2022 at the New Life Church located at 1414 2nd St. W., Polson, MT 59860 at 10:00 AM. A brief reception followed by a burial at Lakeview Cemetery will follow the service. For more information regarding the details of the service, please follow the Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula at https://www.gardencityfh.com/memorials/marva-christian/4998384/obituary.php for updates.
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