Clinton - Nita “Stella” Church of Clinton, MT passed away suddenly at St. Patrick’s Hospital on April 23, 2023, from complications from an infection. In true Stella form, she has requested that her date of birth not be published but suffice it to say she lived a long and happy life. Depending on when you met her, you may have known her as Nita during her adolescent, high school, and early adult years, or you may have known her as Stella in her later adult years. She will always be Grandma Stella to her grandchildren. Nita was born in Devil’s Lake, ND but moved to Conrad, MT at six months old. She grew up on a farm in Conrad with her mom, step-dad, two older sisters, and younger brother, and remained in Conrad through her graduation from high school. Shortly after high school she moved to Missoula where she met her first husband Jim Johnson. They were married in 1968 and a few years later had their only child, Laura. They were together for almost 30 years before divorcing but remained friends until his passing in 2007. Nita’s work life began as a kid. Hard work was all she knew, and she never complained or shied away from it, first on the farm, then in retail and later as a butcher at H & H Meats, and Bi-Lo Foods. She could cut up a deer faster than any professional. In the late 90’s, she met Jim Church. They were married in 2001 and were married until his passing in 2018. They met and bonded over a shared love of softball. Stella spent many years on the pitcher’s mound of the softball field (among other positions) playing women’s and co-rec softball in Missoula. She played with her daughter, Laura, and later, her son-in-law, Bill, and husband, Jim, along with many great friends whose years of friendship and camaraderie she always cherished. In 2000, Stella became Grandma Stella when her first grandson, Austin, was born followed by her second grandson, Devan, in 2004. Those boys were truly the light of her life. She was very close to them throughout their childhood attending birthdays, sporting and school events, and any other event where proud grandparents gather. For the past 8 years she had lived above the apartment of Bill and Laura’s home to be close to the family that she loved so much. She was a regular at family parties and celebrations. She enjoyed bowling, softball, jigsaw puzzles, yard work, arts and crafts, especially her weekly stich-n-bitch with her girlfriends in Clinton. Nita (Stella) was preceded in death by her mom, Eva Thoreson, her stepfather, Pat Thoreson, her brother, Leonard Thoreson, two husbands, Jim Johnson and Jim Church, and her beloved dog, Fang. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Bill Tripp of Clinton, MT, her grandsons, Austin Tripp (Kennedy), and Devan Tripp (Sunny), her sister Jeanette (Ivan) Wollersheim of Great Falls, MT, her sister Peggy Morehouse of Colorado Springs, CO, numerous nieces and nephews, and her beloved cats, Annie and Barrel. She will be missed beyond measure by her family and her many friends. A celebration of life will be held at Garden City Funeral Home on June 1, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Animeals. Comments can be left for the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.
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