Charlotte Koski was born to Charles and Madeline Mattila on May 10, 1936, and passed away on June 11, 2017.
Charlotte grew up in Red Lodge, Mont., surrounded by the rich culture of her Italian and Finnish heritage. She was very proud of her family’s contributions to Red Lodge. Her grandfather, Biaggio Sconfienza, opened The Red Lodge Bakery, the first bakery in town, in the early 1900s.
Her mother helped found the Red Lodge Festival of Nations. Following in the footsteps of her mother and her dear aunt Lena, Charlotte continued her own membership in the Italian Victory Girls Club throughout her lifetime and was proud to introduce her daughter, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter to the organization.
She practiced her family’s culinary traditions by making fabulous grissini (breadsticks), Finn bread, and Aunt Lena’s spaghetti. Charlotte had skills long before TV made them popular, but she loved watching the Food Network and often expanded her repertoire based on Giada’s latest episode.
Charlotte graduated from Red Lodge High School in 1954 and attended Eastern Montana College. She married Ron Koski in 1955, and together they raised three children – Scott, Mike, and Teresa. They later divorced. She earned her cosmetology license in the 1970s and worked for a few years as a beautician. She maintained her license for many years and always had her scissors handy to trim bangs, offer a haircut, or a quick fix for a cut gone-bad.
In 1983, Charlotte began working at St. Vincent’s Hospital. She filled various admitting and tech roles in the ER during her time at the hospital. As a valuable team member, she developed many strong friendships and put many people in need at ease.
Charlotte appreciated the whimsical and the creative, and pursued many interests. Whether it was having the only pink house on the block with an orange front door or digging up the backyard to create “gardening rooms,” Charlotte was game to try new things. Herbs, tomatoes, raspberries, vegetables, and colorful flowers filled her yard through the years.
After receiving a piano from her family, Charlotte practiced the music to “The Lion King” to play for her grandchildren. She was the foreman as Teresa and son-in-law Bill expanded her childhood home in Red Lodge with a sunroom, and she was the artist that created murals on walls in her basement.
Charlotte was always quick to join in on family gatherings. Whether it was a mushroom-hunting trip “up top” in the Beartooth Mountains, floating across Australia with Teresa in a hot air balloon, hanging out in a house on the Oregon coast, or jumping on a plane to hear Paul McCartney in Denver, Grandma was there. She relished time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, especially the Fourth of July in Red Lodge. Grandma was proud of her family and always had a supportive smile. She was loved dearly and will be missed tremendously.
Charlotte is survived by son and daughter-in-law Mike and Lorrie Koski of Columbus; daughter and son-in-law Teresa and Bill Kemp of Billings; grandchildren Mikaela and Ryan Koski, Travis Kemp, and Becca Lewis; and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 1 p.m. in Billings at Dahl Funeral Chapel.