Valarie Ann McConnell

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Valarie Ann McConnell was born in Gillette, Wyo., to Earl Phillip and Mary Joyce (Roberts) McConnell.

Born the second of three daughters, she was one of the “Hellions of The Prairie.” She grew up on horseback, an active participant in countless adventures and a hard life filled with tough, long days that made her a true Woman of The West.

Growing up on ranches in Gillette and Cody, Wyo., Springdale, Mont., and the deserts of Prineville, Ore., she had pretty much seen it all and mister, she could tell you. Been there, done that!

She became a knowledgeable resource concerning all four legged, hay burning critters and she loved sharing that knowledge with kids by being a leader in 4-H. Hauling kids and their animals from Denver to San Francisco and all points in between to compete with others around the country.

The motivational music that she played to get the kids pumped up was “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III. She was also called upon to judge competitions at NILE and others.

She was the most spirited woman I’ve ever met. She was strong willed, courageous and very determined. These character traits served her well all her life until the day she passed.

If you knew her, you were a better person for it.

Besides being a tough gal, she had a great, sly sense of humor. There was a flash of fire in her eyes as well as mischief and that, I want to tell you, is a wonderful combination.

She worked several other jobs besides Ag, which was her first love. Over the last years, she worked part time at Special K Ranch as a relief house mother. She loved cooking special meals and favorite dishes for her friends and loved ones there, where they called her “Mom.”

Valarie shared her life with many fine horses from Red Cloud to Peanut to Magnum to Rolex, with several others in between. Her last, and possibly her favorite, was Patron, who was with her to the end. Her love of riding horses can’t be overstated and riding in the Still-water Valley was the place to do it!

Valarie loved the Lord Jesus and was baptized in Columbus. She attended church here in Columbus but mostly at Grace Fellowship in Absarokee.

Valarie was married to Dan Martin from 1971 to 2002.

She was the mother of three handsome men: Mark Allen Martin, who graced this world for but one day, on Jan. 8, 1974; Zane William Martin, a rancher who runs a fine herd of Shorthorns in Fishtail, Mont., and Frank Daniel Martin, construction equipment sales, who lives with his wife, Amanda, in Belgrade, Mont.

Not only was she a loving mother to her children, but the closest of friends to her sweet, kind, loving sister Evelyn McConnell and her son Tyrel of Raton, N. M. Valarie gave of herself whenever it was needed, whatever it took. She was a protector.

Countless times she welcomed people into her home for the holidays when they had nowhere to go for a warm, wonderful meal and a family experience. This is a manifestation of love that God intends us to show to each other.

Valarie and I, William Jay Jaworski, met in 2006 and were married May 12, 2007.

Valarie will always be the love of my life, she is sorely missed.

Over the last 12 years, she has loved and helped me to raise my six children and four grandchildren, Sarah Ann Bailey and husband Jerry and their children Isabel, Lillian and Michael of Tulsa, Okla.; Abbi Marie Reiber and husband Donald and their son Drake Scott of Billings, Mont.; Alexander Joel Daniel Jaworski of Timmonsville, S.C.; Ephraim Matthew Ioan Jaworski of Billings, Mont.; Miriam Suzanne Jaworski of Chicago, Ill.;and Rachel Lee Bennett and husband Henry of Billings, Mont.

On Thursday, Aug. 16, Valarie passed away from injuries incurred two weeks earlier when she and her horse, Patron, fell down the side of a mountain near Nye, Mont. She was doing what she loved most, riding her horse, working cattle.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, there will be a celebration of her life at Beartooth Boarding & Riding.

If you are thinking of sending flowers, don’t.

Instead, make a contribution to the Special K Ranch of Columbus, Mont.

It is one of the many places Valarie held dear to her heart.

Valarie Ann lived her life and went out, with her boots on!

(She also baked the BEST pie in the county. Heck, the whole state!)

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