Thursday, September 20, 2018

Our dearly loved and feisty mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Mary Lou Flanagan, lived and died tough, proud, loving, and utterly amazing.

Born Mary Lou Carstens, she married Tommy Flanagan in 1953 and quickly added “rancher” and “mom” to her identity. Together, Mary Lou and Tommy ranched, raised their children, and contributed to their community. They lived life gratefully and at top speed, working hard at whatever they tackled.

Mary Lou lost Tommy when she was 39. It was devastating, but with the fantastic support of friends and family, she not only kept the ranch together, but tried out accounting and retail before settling into her long and cherished career as a realtor. Many who knew her benefited from her generous spirit, her determination to make a fair deal, and the delight she felt when she could help someone out.

She later married Maurice (Buzzy) Flanagan, and again, added dimensions to her personal and professional life, including cattle buying, and step-children, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren. Mom loved to dance, travel, meet new people, read, play bridge with her friends, and keep up with her children and grandchildren’s adventures.

She was always there with a card, a call, a gift, a loan, a ride, a recipe, or just good advice. She was extraordinarily honest and ethical, and her steady resolve to do the right thing was unshakable. She made us all better people.

Mary Lou is survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Chris (Bud) and Marlene Carstens, who were lifelong pillars of support and the best of friends; her three children, Rita Sommers-Flanagan, Geri DeVilbiss, and Bill Flanagan; five grandchildren, Chelsea Bodnar, Whitney Jacobs, Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, and Tommy and Paul Flanagan; and three great-grandchildren, Davis, Margaret, and Nora Bodnar. Spouses John, Seth, Nick, Inga, and Lou were family additions Mom loved and admired.

The family plans a celebration of Mary Lou’s life at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2018, at the old gym in Absarokee. In lieu of flowers or cards, please have a cup of good coffee or your favorite tea with a friend or loved one. Eat cookies. Laugh. Tell stories. And resolve to live your lives with enthusiasm, gratitude, and compassion. We would consider this the highest possible tribute to our mother, an intrepid women who lived life fiercely and fully.