Lucille Howe (McElhaney) was born in Helena, MT in 1928 to James Lewis McElhaney and Dorothy Beatrice Stapleton. She was a third-generation descendant of the original pioneers of the Helena Valley (on her father’s side) and Walla Walla, WA (on her mother’s side). And true to her roots, Lucille lived her 91 ½ years with a pioneering adventurous spirit.
Lucille’s father, James, died before Lucille was born but before he passed he setup a trust for Lucille that would afford her the chance to get a college education. He made his sister Myrtle Warren (McElhaney) the Executor of the trust.
Lucille’s mother remarried Edward Nels Magnus and with that, she became the oldest of seven children. The family lived in several homes in Helena and often reminisced on how resourceful her mother was in caring for her and her siblings during the Depression. She was proud to proclaim that she was a “6th Ward Brat.” Later in life, she had the chance to meet another self-proclaimed 6th ward brat – the famous singer Nicolette Larson – most famous for her work with Neil Young and her ’78 hit “Lotta Love.”
As a young girl growing up on State Street in Helena, Lucille was often in the company of her cousins: Dorothy Warren (McEnaney), Lois McElhaney (Poepping) and Pat Mclean (Hole). She was a proud member of the Pioneer Daughters of Washington, the 4H Club, Campfire Girls, and the Lion’s Club Sunshine Campers. She loved walking across town with her siblings to Last Chance Gulch to see movies, window shop and buy candy and ice cream.
One day, Lucille was playing outside and noticed some “ladies in white dresses” crossing the street. She asked her mother who they were and where they were going. Her mother explained that the white dresses were uniforms and that these were Immaculata student nurses on their way to help care for people up the hill at St. John’s hospital. Upon hearing this, Lucille proclaimed that she wanted to be a nurse someday too.
Lucille attended Bryant Elementary School and The Deaconess School (Intermountain Children’s Home)- where her Aunt Myrtle was the head cook. She then attended Helena High School (Go Bengals!) where she and her best friend Joyce Blackman (Sterling) and her pals won the Vigilante Parade Float design their Junior AND Senior years.
Once she graduated from high school, Lucille set out to fulfill the dream she had come up with as a little girl to become an Immaculata nurse. She used the trust her father had left for her to enroll in the Nursing School at Carroll College and was in the first class of graduating nurses from the Sisters of Charity School of Nursing.
After graduation, Lucille happened upon a flyer advertising for registered nurses for a newly built hospital in California. She excitedly showed the flyer to her friend Beverly Durgin (Anderson) – who later became her maid of honor – and together they decided to head to California for work at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.
After they were settled in their new city, all of the nurses were invited to a dance at the Fort Ord Army Base. It was here that Lucille met Roy John Howe, a corporal in the Army and a Jersey boy. They fell in love and were married at Sacred Heart Church. After the wedding, Lucille and Roy decided to move across the country to New Jersey. Lucille had never been east of the Rocky Mountains and was impressed with the beautiful views she saw from Route 66. She collected a souvenir glass from each state along the way.
They eventually made it to East Paterson, NJ where they settled down and made their home. They had two children together: Jeri Lynn Piechoski (Howe) and Roy John Howe, Jr.
Lucille was an RN for 40 years before she retired in Arizona. She preferred the 11p -7a night shift and although she was comfortable working on the medical surgical floors, her favorite area was always Labor and Delivery/Maternity. Her travels took her all over the country and that’s reflected in all the different hospitals she worked for:
St. John’s in Helena, MT, St. Vincent’s in Billings, MT, Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, MT, St. Joe’s in Tacoma, WA, Salinas Valley Memorial in Salinas, CA, Paterson General in Paterson, NJ, Saddle Brook Memorial in Saddle Brook, NJ, Barnert Memorial in Paterson, NJ, St. Lukes in Tempe, AZ, Mesa General in Mesa, AZ and Casada Village Nursing Home in Mesa, AZ
Lovingly known as “GMom” to her grandchildren, Lucille was always “Lucille” or called “Sis” (by her brothers), she was very religious, organized, cheerful, thoughtful, and cared deeply for her family and friends. She loved to celebrate the people in her life by sending them Hallmark cards for their special occasions. In turn, they all remembered Lucille on her 90th birthday…she received 97 cards!
She loved her grandchildren very much. She loved babysitting for them when they were younger and when they grew up she attended their basketball and soccer games and rooted for their college teams (Alex’s Villanova Wildcats and Brad’s Miami Hurricanes). She also loved visiting with her son Roy who is a truck driver and his Chihuahua MacGuyver (her fur baby grandchild). She also loved eating at TCBY, bowling, knitting, playing violin, doing puzzles & playing the lottery scratchers.
Lucille became an angel in heaven on April 5, 2020, due to conditions related to her age and not COVID-19. She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother Elmer, brother Edward, brother Donald, and baby brother Royal. She is survived by her sister Birdie, and sister Vivian; numerous nieces and nephews; her daughter Jeri Lynn Piechoski (Howe) of Scottsdale, Arizona; and son, Roy John Howe, Jr., of Oakland, New Jersey.
She lived her life with a pioneering adventurous spirit and the love and compassion that she showed the world will not be forgotten by the loved ones she leaves behind.
A special thank you to her Hunters Pointe friends and neighbors, the wonderful Caregivers at HomeInstead Senior Care (AZ & MT), and to Guiding Angels Hospice Care in AZ for their love and support…Lucille is HOME!
Please join us for a celebration of Lucille’s life at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home 3750 N. Montana Avenue, Helena, MT 59602 on Sunday, July 17, 2022 Service at 12:00 noon with a luncheon immediately following the service. Private Burial at the IOOF Cemetery will be held at a later date. Donations may be made in Lucille’s name to the Howe memorial at Carroll College, www.carroll.edu/give or mail to 1601 N. Benton Ave, Helena, MT 59625; or Intermountain Home for Children: www.intermountain.org .