November 9, 1932 ~ March 28, 2017
April 08, 2017 1:00 PM
Meta Ann Jenni Strickler, 84, passed away on March 28, 2017, at her home in Bozeman, Montana, from a courageous battle with Staph, which she gallantly fought for over a year, this being the second time it had surfaced, and from diabetes that caused her to have dialysis.
Meta was a native Bozemanite born at the home of her grandparents, Annie May and Oliver C. Biering, to Danny M. and Mildred Biering Jenni, the second of four children on November 9, 1932. Meta joined a brother, Donald Robert, and was presented a sister, Barbara June, in eighteen months. A tiny sister arrived after Barbara, Dot Rae, but due to premie complications she couldn't survive.
The family lived on local farms, her parents worked as farmers and, usually, also worked in town to supplement their income. During her early childhood years, the family lived in several unusual houses, one was a long wood building that was a machine shed at one end and the other was a slaughterhouse, that was the part the Jenni's lived in. Meta's mother used knocked-down cardboard boxes and printed grain sacks to cover the walls to make it more liveable. Two of their homes were log homes that were in poor condition, one that a bird had a nest in the corner of the girl's room and could fly in or out. They lived in a small one-room cabin on what is now known as Kirk Hill, and spent the winter of 1937 living in a large one-room two-story building up in Limestone Canyon with Mildred's cousin, Harald and Mildred Biering, with Danny helping take care of the livestock because Harald was on jury duty in town and couldn't always get back and forth due to the winter conditions. It was after this they moved to the above-mentioned home, the old slaughterhouse, which was just south of what is now the Valley View Golf Course. They had many hardships because of the Depression during Meta's youth. Mildred's father developed extreme asthma and could no longer work the home farm, later passing away, so Meta's family moved back to the home place to do the farming until Mildred's mother remarried and they decided to run the farm again so the family moved again. All the homes they lived in, except the home place, did not have running water, electricity, gas or any modern conveniences until they moved to town. All their homes that they stayed in long enough had very large and heavy producing gardens, giving Meta the chance to learn to "put by". In time, the family moved to the home on Cottonwood Street that they purchased and that was Meta's home for 30 years now.
Mildred taught her daughters to be excellent cooks, seamstresses and homemakers. Meta, Barbara and Donald were very active in Girl and Boy Scouts, with Danny and Mildred being extremely active parents. Later the girls joined the Buttons and Bows 4-H Club, which developed into a complete family project.
Meta attended Bozeman grade schools, the Anderson Country School, graduated from Bozeman Junior High School and attended Gallatin County High School. Her folks were actively involved in PTA during all the school years.
Floyd D. Strickler "Strick", as he was known, and Meta were united in marriage November 11, 1950, in Bozeman by Floyd's grandfather, Judge James N. Pratt. The couple traveled extensively throughout the United States and lived and worked in various places. She returned to Bozeman to have their daughter, Lynda Ann, November 1953, and Floyd joined her later. Their son, Audie Rick, was born August 1956, in Bozeman. The couple was united in marriage for 67 years.
Meta was a very active Sunday School teacher at the Methodist Church while her children were young, a Cub Scout leader during Audie's youth, an extremely active Girl Scout Leader with the younger girls, then transferring to the older girls as Lynda grew up, helping with the day camp each year. Then she became a longevity 4-H Leader. She started as the sewing leader and developed into a full-fledged leader to Hyalite Livestock 4-H Club. She produced several Junior Dress Review winners and her members collected many awards at the local fairs. She also helped several girls in the "Make it in Wool" contests.
The Milk Bar at the Winter Fair was organized by her for several years.
She was very interested in genealogy and tracing her family history, especially any that had interesting stories. Floyd and she made many trips to find the stories about their families including Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Scotland. The Koch Family Reunions were trips the couple attended, usually in the South but at least one in Washington, these included one she and a cousin, Mary Biering Burkhart, hosted in Bozeman with both their families helping.
Meta worked many jobs in her lifetime as a cabdriver, casino operator, and a motel attendant. She was an excellent seamstress. In 1951, Meta worked at a clothing manufacturing factory in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. She worked for Chambers-Fishers and Angionetts as an altemationist, then joined Judy DeHaan and later Juanita Spring in the Sew and Sew. A group of seamstresses started a cooperative called the Sewing Bee in the Bozeman Hotel with Meta. Several young ladies in Bozeman and the surrounding areas glided down the aisle in gowns either designed and/or handmade by, or altered or elaborated by her. Floyd wears beautiful Western vests to compliment his western attire at his music ventures, designed and handmade by her. Several of her nephews attended graduation in garments crafted or just plain handmade by her to cover up bodies that had been emancipated by injury or illness. Lynda's wedding was a beautiful example with suits and dresses entirely made by or altered by Meta's magic hands. Her family was recipients of her fabulous ability and received many gifts of her labor. After retiring, Meta worked with BWAGS and helped start a weekly billiards group. She enjoyed cake decorating and was quite artistically inclined.
Meta was the confidant for her outlying family. They all loved her and called her "Aunt Me." Meta was exposed to music all her life. Her father played the guitar, harmonica and "the bones", her husband played the guitar and sang with several local Western groups including one that he and a couple other gentlemen traveled for a short length of time trying to make it in the field of Western music. Meta did a stint as an employee at the Zebra Lounge to support the family during that time. Audie became quite a musician in his right playing guitar and singing. Lynda did some singing and playing also.
Lynda married Lloyd Rodney Donahue in 1982 and blessed Meta with a grandson, Christopher Adam. He developed into a fabulous musician. He could play almost any stringed instrument and sing as well. This marriage later terminated.
Meta's son, Audie, passed away shortly after Christmas 1985, and her grandson in May 2014. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Annie May Koch Biering Figgins, Oliver C. Biering and step-grandfather Carl Figgins; paternal grandparents, Daniel and Mary Alice Trent Jenni Jensen, and step-grandfather, Nels Jensen; her parents, Danny M. and Mildred Biering Jenni; her sister, Dot Rae; her son, Audie Rick; and her grandson, Christopher Adam. All of Floyd's family predeceased her except a sister-in-law, Ruth Strickler and many nieces and nephews. Surviving Meta are her husband, Floyd "Strick" Strickler; daughter, Lynda Ann Strickler Donahue, and partner David Ridgeway, all of Bozeman; brother, Donald (Cathy Lynn) Jenni of Orofino, Idaho; sister, Barbara June Jenni Kurk of Bozeman; and many nephews and nieces scattered all over.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, April 8 at 1 p.m. at Bozeman United Methodist Church.
Donations may be made to the Gallatin Pioneer Museum, 317 W. Main, Bozeman, MT 59715 or to a research facility working on a cure for Staph, or to any charity of your choice.
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