Inspirational Butte Woman – Jeanette Kappes

jeannette1_largeJeanette Kappes is an amazing young woman.  I met Jeanette many years ago when I worked with her sister, Tina.  Jeanette graduated from Butte High School.  She moved out of town and was employed by Nordstrom’s.  I think she must have grown to like the finer things of life while there.  She eventually returned to Butte.  She was married and had one son Jackson, who just recently turned 21 years old.  After returning to Butte she gave birth to another son, Jonathan, who would fit in the palm of your hand at the time he was born.  One can only imagine the struggles and emotions that she endured and were necessary to raise him to be the beautiful boy he is today.

Jeanette has been through many trials and tribulations in her young life and always remains the same optimistic, enthusiastic person.  She and her sister, Tina, had an amazing relationship and were so much fun to be around.  Unfortunately, Tina passed away two years ago, but she remains in the hearts and minds, not only of her sister, but all those who knew her to be a quiet, kind person who always smiled and tried to help others.  She left behind a son and daughter who are so very close to their aunt Jeanette.  Jeanette began working with her mom, Carol, who owns Crazee Carol’s Casino.  She is a night owl and is usually there in the evening; although, I am sure she probably works 24/7.  The business is a wonderful place to meet people and Jeanette makes it so welcoming with all kinds of events going on all the time and they have a wonderful staff.  Jeanette is a special person.

Her enthusiastic attitude and love of life are infectious.  You can’t help but laugh when you are around her and she always makes you feel so special.  She is a lovely Butte woman.  It seems as if she can handle anything that comes her way.  She is helping her mom deal with the process of aging along with everything else that seems to be part of her life.  To describe Jeanette, you would have to say, loving, kind, generous,  full of fun,  zest for life; and she brings sunshine into your soul when you’re around her.  She is a blessing.  I’m glad to call her my friend.

That’s what happiness is and that is what memories are made of!


Beautiful Butte Irish Lady – Fran O’Farrell


Fran O’Farrell

I met Fran O’Farrell about 40 years ago when we were both Avon representatives.  Fran was at the top of the list of successful saleswomen in that organization; proven by her friends, supporters and the many awards she received.  She had a large collection of Avon specialties;  won many trips and was a proud representative of the company.  I was just a novice so I had the privilege to learn a lot of important sales tips from Fran.  It so happened that Fran lives around the corner from my home and we saw each other often.  She also supplied all the wonderful products to most of the women where I was employed. 

Fran told me recently that she was born in a car on the road between two California cities.  Her mother had decided to take a trip when she was 9 months pregnant with Fran.  I suggested maybe that is why she is so tough and always on the go.  Fran is a person who just doesn’t sit back and wait for life to happen; she makes her own happiness and is a pleasure to be around.  I met Fran when her late husband Babe was still alive.  They were an energetic couple.  They loved to travel in their motor home, when it wasn’t as fashionable as it is today.  They were avid golfers and both had an enthusiasm for living.  Fran is a devout catholic and you can see her in church on any given day.  Not only is Fran still a saleslady for Avon, even though she is over 90 years old; but, she for many years drove a school bus; and every year she puts out her signs and sells cherries from the Flathead Valley from her son’s orchard.   Everyone in Butte looks forward to that season.  

She is a proud supporter of her family.  She is always involved in the community and helping others.   A few years ago she was named Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade; well deserving.  I will always remember Fran.  She represents the spirit of a woman with the desire to make others happy, a family person and a pleasure to be around.  She represents faith, family and love.  Her smile is always a welcome sight, her laugh is contagious and she always dresses for the occasion, whether it’s a green hat or a red hat.

That’s what Memories are made of!


Inspirational Butte Women – Christina Willis

christina_smallChristina Willis is an inspirational young woman.  She is the designer of beautiful gift items by “To Tell The Truth Designs” on Etsy;  and, she is the store manager of a Butte store “Crafters Square and Pet Central” on Montana Street.  Christina moved to Butte from California and is actively pursuing a career in design, production, marketing and store management.  She has many years experience in the sales and marketing field; as well as, sewing and handmade crafts.  In addition to being a mom of two young boys, wife, entrepreneur and so on, she is a very nice person.  

I met Christina at the Farmers’ Market last year and we became friends.  She invited me to sell my Beautiful Butte products in her store on consignment and I was pleased she considered me.  I am happy to be part of her venture.  She is a skilled seamstress and designer.  Her products are of the highest quality and very unique.  You cannot purchase a nicer product like hers in this city.  She continues to amaze me with her energy, motivation and skills.  She is the kind of person whose mind goes twenty-four hours a day.  Christina has a knack for delightful designs.  She has special items for children, women, the home and she seems to be able to produce anything she thinks about or sees.   If you are a person who enjoys custom designs for special people based on their interests, hobbies, likes, etc.;  Christina is the one to get in touch with.  

In Butte we don’t have many options and her store fills the gap.  It’s wonderful not to have to go out of town to purchase something special.  Also, the people who have their products in the store are very talented people and unique designers.  Their products answer the need for something different.  It is so nice to see a young woman with so many aspirations and the drive and motivation to succeed while not compromising her personal life.  Her personality is one filled with hospitality, joy and confidence and her smile will make your day.  I’m glad to call her my friend.

That’s what memories are made of!



Beautiful Butte Ladies – An Inspiration To All


 Lauretta Bontifiglio – Artist – Sculptor – Lady

It was a pleasure for me when two years ago at the Farmer’s Market in Uptown Butte, I met Lauretta Bontifiglio.  At first, I was just admiring her work and we started a conversation about the past, present and her interests.  As time went on, in the next two years I got to know Lauretta better and visited her at the Farmer’s Market and at the Main Stope Gallery where she is a member artist and several pieces of her work are displayed.

When we visited, I told Lauretta that I would like to do a short story about her on my business blog.  She agreed and so we visited several times thereafter.  I grew to admire, respect and care very much for the lovely lady with a beautiful spirit, heartwarming smile and personality.  We talked about how as a young girl she was very adventuresome and always knew that she wanted to be an artist.  She was the only girl among brothers and it sounds as if she was full of fun and zest for life.  She talked about her life as a child and her mother’s influence.  She shared some wonderful personal stories with me.  When she graduated from high school she went off to a Baptist college in California where she was encouraged by a professor to go to Mexico to study art.  In 1945 it’s hard to imagine a young girl, Lauretta is now in her 80’s, going to Mexico alone.  She said her mother supported her in her decision and off she went.

Lauretta studied art and worked with several famous artists.  She told me the humorous and touching story of how she met her husband.  He was riding on a motorcycle very fast toward a building where she was visiting.  He came to a quick stop, jumped off the motorcycle very impressively and, hence, they met.  Needless to say, they were married sometime later.  It was such a dramatic tale and you could envision beautiful Lauretta meeting this “Zorro type character, handsome man with a cape,  carrying her off into  the sunset.”

They had four children. The family returned to the United States in the late 60’s and settled in Annapolis, Maryland where she gave birth to her fifth child.  She earned another degree.  Lauretta and her husband later divorced and she remained there and taught school for 18 years.  She later returned to the West living in California, returning to Butte to take care of the sale of her family home.  At that time, she decided to stay in Butte where she lives today in the same home.

Lauretta is one of the most inspiring women I have met in my lifetime.  I love to visit her.  She is so “alive” and a joy to be around.  Her work is beautiful and she never stops.  She sends her beautiful pottery each year to Big Fork, Montana where it is sold and continues her work at the Main Stope.  She designs and produces beautiful wind chimes and jewelry among other artistic pieces.  She continued to make and sell at the Market; but decided to give it up at the end of last year.  She is so knowledgeable and full of wonderful memories about her exciting life.  Lauretta takes you to far away places in another era as she reminisces.  She taught me so much about the history of our nation, and Mexico.  I never tire of her exuberance.  She maintains a home and garden and continues to create her pottery and wood sculptures.  She is so full of life.  She stated in an article by Jenna Cederberg in the Montana Standard in 2007 “my works are expressions of my spirit.”  She also said at that time “I’m always trying to understand who I am, where I am, and where I’m going.” She said, “If it all goes as planned, I’ll be working until I’m 100.”  I think she might be right, at least I hope so.

I have been so blessed to meet such a lovely lady, beautiful spirit and talented woman.

I asked her how she wanted to be remembered and she said, “not for my art, but holding a baby.”  She will live on in my memory and heart the rest of my lifetime.

That’s what memories are made of!


Beautiful Butte Ladies – Bette Larsen

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My Friend Bette Larsen

Many years ago, I met this very shy lady while working in a physician’s office.  She was a med tech and came into the office to do lab work.   Later, I discovered that she lived just around the corner from me.  We became friends through work, church, children,  marriage encounter and other social events.  Bette’s husband John worked with my husband at what was then the Montana Power Company.   I was the den mother of the Cub Scouts which included her son Michael and my son Matt.  We lost track of each other during the following years as our careers took us in different directions.  We would meet up at the various Montana Power functions and enjoyed visiting.

After retirement I met Bette again and we renewed our friendship.  I learned so much about Bette.  She is a devoted Roman Catholic and a true Irishwoman.  She loves to write and has most recently finished a book.  She has been very involved in genealogy and started her research about 40 years ago.  She took a trip to Ireland by herself a few years ago and wrote a short story about it.  She gave me a copy to read and it was one of the most delightful things I have read.  She describes her visit in such an amusing way, holding your interest and smiling as she travels throughout this beautiful country.

I learned that Bette was an airplane pilot in her younger years.  Marriage was never in her plan.  When she met John; they fell in love and were married.  She had her first child when she was 40 and her second a few years later.  She continued her career and enjoyed her life as a mother and wife.   She was always involved with her childrens’ activities and encouraged them to explore and try new things.  She is always there for them.  Bette loved her career and later became the person in charge at St. James Lab.  Even though she was a working woman, she devoted many hours to her family and friends.

Bette has not been well for several years; however, when in her company you would never know.  She has defied all odds and survived the physicians’ predictions.

I cannot praise this wonderful woman enough.  Even though we did not see each other for several years, we remained friends.  She never ceases to amaze me.  This small,  shy woman has accomplished more in her lifetime than most of us would be courageous enough to try.  If I had to describe her, it would be that she is a most spunky, inquisitive, intelligent woman and a joy to be around.  Bette is not very organized in her day-to-day practices, mostly because she has so many interests.   She enjoys the Butte Archives and never loses her enthusiasm for learning new things.   Bette loves to cook, visit, share her stories and listen to yours.  I am so blessed that Bette has been a part of my life and she has taught me so much; we are quite different personalities, but we seem to meld somehow.  I admire her tenacity, her love of life and her welcoming personality.

Bette is most certainly one of Butte’s most beautiful ladies who has contributed so much to this community and those she meets and befriends.

There is so much that I could write about this woman; however, space does not allow it.  I am grateful that she has been my friend and she will always be in my heart.

That’s what memories are made of!



Beautiful Butte Ladies – Johanna ‘Ann’ Nelissen

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This will be the first in a series of tributes to lovely ladies I have met since moving to Butte, Montana almost 40 years ago.  These women are such an important part of our Butte history in that they touched the ordinary people with their talents, skills, attitudes, love, friendship and the desire to teach and enrich the lives of others.

Johanna ‘Ann’ Nelissen

This tribute honors Ann and remembers my relationship with her.  Sad to say, she passed away on July 18, 2014.  I want to share my memories of Ann and how she affected me personally.

I first met Ann when I was searching for someone to help me with learning to sew.  As it turned out, she only lived up the street from me.  She was working out of her house at the time and just starting her business.  I went to her for advice off and on.  Then Ann opened her store and began to share her craft with many women in the community.  I attended her classes along with many others.  I would expect that the church should have been packed at her funeral as she taught so many of the women the art of making lovely things both for the home and for personal use.

She had a wonderful sense of humor and a sparkle in her eye.  She would tap your hand gently, smile and look at you with a teasing sense when you were in doubt or perhaps missed a step in the design or production. She helped me to get my first Viking sewing machine.   I learned so much from this beautiful woman.  I always teased her about writing a book; telling her that I would transcribe the recording if she wanted to share her abundant knowledge.  She never accomplished that and I am very sad that she did not have the opportunity.  She was one of the most experienced, artistic women I have ever known and I will treasure my memories and the beautiful quilt I made in one of her very first classes.  I am sure there are many women in this city who will think of Ann with fondness and smiles as they remember her and look at the treasures Ann helped them to create.

She was devout in her faith.  Her love of sewing became her passion which followed her all her life.   She loved sharing and teaching this art which she continued to master,  learning pattern drawing and design.

She was loved by all and lived a full and happy life.  May she rest in peace.  She will always live in my memories and I thank her for sharing her special gift with me.

That’s what memories are made of!



Source: Beautiful Butte Blog