EDGAR — Gloria Jean Steffan Thiel was born on Jan. 19, 1940, the eighth of 11 children, to Mike and Rose Steffan on the family farm in Edgar. She was unexpectedly taken from her family on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in an auto accident after spending the day with a dear friend getting her hair done, new glasses, and shopping. It was not meant for her to reach the ranch one last time; yet the chance to go home to the Lord.
Gloria attended school in Edgar until the family moved to Belfry, where, while attending a junior high dance, she met her future husband, love and lifelong companion.
After just a few months of marriage to Robert Nelson, she became a widow at 20. The first person she saw when she returned from Hawaii was Bob. Just one year later, on April 7, 1961, they were married, sharing over 54 years together on Bluewater Creek at the Lazy T-4 Ranch. To this union three children were born: Mark, Bruce and Michelle.
In addition to being a rancher’s wife, Gloria often held two to three additional jobs at one time. Some including secretary, beet scale operator, and she proudly drove for Bridger Public School for 26 years, as well as a driver for miners for five years at Rimrock Stages before she officially retired to be a full-time rancher’s wife.
Celebrating the holidays at the Thiel household was a tradition where there was always at least one extra holiday that sometimes replaced Mother’s Day. It was called branding, and while many worked hard to work the cattle, Mom worked for days and weeks to prepare a feast larger than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. Mom would worry that all the hardworking hands would not have enough, which meant everyone had enough to eat for a week.
Gloria took pride in her big, beautiful garden. For something new to try in the summer of 2015, she decided to enter the Montana State Fair with her harvest, entering 15 categories, winning eight first places, including a “Best in Show,” five second place ribbons, an honorable mention and a “Participant.” She said “not bad for a first time,” saying to her daughter, “maybe next year you can help me and we can even do better,” always striving for perfection.
Mom never met a stranger, only people she wanted to share her life with. She could spend hours on the phone with anyone. She loved much and many loved her. She loved to organize summer parties and birthday events for her close friends.
Gloria treasured her sister trips and loved her large family with all her heart. Gloria is preceded in death by her parents, Mike and Rose; brothers, Donnie and Wally; sisters, Leona and Alice; and grandson Alan Knuth.
She is survived by her husband, Bob of Bridger; sons, Mark (Marilyn) of Billings and Bruce (Cortney) of Columbus; daughter Michelle (Ron) Knuth of Laurel; brothers, Jim (Minnie) of Grand Junction, Colo., Monte (Judy) of Bridger, Bruce (Pat) of Naturita, Colo., Mike (Audrey) of Parker, Colo.; sisters, Carol (Ken) Jenkins of Columbus, Penny Breen of Sandy, Ore.; brothers-in-law, George Jovanovich of Billings and Bill Richey of Powell, Wyo.; sister-in-law Janie Steffan of Helena; and grandchildren, Kale Tisbert of Sheridan, Wyo., and Casey and Tylyn Thiel of Columbus.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Bridger High School, with interment in the Bridger Cemetery.
Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary has charge of arrangements. Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.michelottisawyers.com.