Eileen Phelan Brensdal was the eighth child (of 10) born to Joseph Patrick and Ruth Wood Phelan on July 19, 1923. She passed away at the age of 93 early in the morning on Dec. 27, 2016, — the last of her siblings to pass.
Mom grew up on a ranch in the Bearpaw Mountains, loved ranch life with a passion for horses. She loved working alongside her father and brothers and passed her love of horses on to her two sons and younger daughter.
Mom graduated high school at age 16 and attended Northern Montana College where she received a teaching degree. Eileen taught at Saco, where some of her students were older than her.
Mom met her future husband, Trygve Brensdal as a teenager. Her brother Jerome was Tryg’s roommate at Northern. They started dating in college and married Aug. 16, 1943, in New York City, when our dad’s ship was there for a short stop.
After the war the couple moved to Missoula, where Dad returned to finish pharmacy school at the University of Montana. They had their first daughter and first son during their stay in Missoula.
In 1949 the family moved to Billings for Dad’s first job and mom became a stay at home mother. Their second son and second daughter were born in Billings. Mom was active in volunteer organizations and PTA.
In 1955 our parents bought a drug store in Columbus, Mont., (Tryg’s Drug). They continued to raise their family and were lifelong residents. Mom continued her volunteer work while also helping run the store.
In 1960 Mom contracted gas gangrene while in the hospital for a minor surgery. It was a very difficult time for the family as the children were between 6 and 14. We had a great doctor and nurse that never left her side and she survived.
Several family members also helped the family during recovery. The ordeal disabled mom, but she never let it stop her from taking care of her family, working in the drug store, going up and down the stairs of our three story house, wearing high heels or riding horses.
Mom was very active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church serving in several positions with the Alter Society. The church was always locked, but our home wasn’t and the church key was kept in a Rudolph cup near her teacup collection. Whenever anyone needed to get into the church, they just came into our home and got the key. When there was a death in town, Mom was usually the first one to take a meal to the family.
When Dad was president of the state pharmaceutical association, Mom was president of the women’s group.
Genealogy was another one of her passions. Mom spent many years researching her ancestry during travels around the county. Eventually she joined the Daughters of American Revolutions. She was active at both the local and state levels, serving as president of both.
Singing was very important to our family. Whenever there was a group together, music was part of the event. Mom was a member of Sweet Adelines in Billings for many years. A group from Columbus drove down weekly for practices and participated in many competitions.
Mom loved to crochet and knit. She made many hats, scarves, sweaters and mittens for us kids. She made afghans for her children, grands, great grands, nieces and nephews. Mom was famous for her wonderful potholders, something she continued to do until the last few months. She passed her talents to her daughters, grands and nieces.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband Tryg, youngest daughter Judi Walker, parents and siblings. She is survived by daughter Barbara and Kenneth Kem; son Larry and Sue Brensdal; son Kenneth and Georgia Brensdal. Her grandchildren include Darrin (Dana) Revell, Evan; Terri Revell (fiancé Gary Rodenbaugh), Brianna and Zack; Stacy Brensdal and Bryan; Randal (Haley) Brensdal, Camlyn, Emree and Parrin; Gregory (Amanda) Brensdal and Kristen; Kelli (Mikael) Olson; Sarah (Seth) Broesder, Trenten, Isaiah, Terrence and Anders; Laure (Mike) Livergood, Kaiden and Taylor; Edie (Adam) Vogel, Blake and Macy; Abby Walker; Jessica Kem, Alma and Jasper; and Marques Kem (Catherine Burke). She is also survived by many nieces and nephews; sister-in-law Judith (Howard) Osmundson; brother-in-law Bjarne Bresdal; brother-in-law Ozzie (Joyce) Brensdal.
Vigil services were held on the evening of Dec. 30, at the Smith Funeral Chapel. The funeral mass was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church on Dec. 31, with burial at Mountain View Cemetery.