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Barbara Postlewait
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Rose Carney
August 16, 1933 ~
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Shirley Thompson

December 7, 1925 ~ June 13, 2017

Shirley Elizabeth Thompson passed away Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at her home in Bozeman, MT, with her family by her side.

Shirley was born December 7, 1925, in New Bedford, MA, to Walter and Elizabeth Thornhill.  She was raised by the seashore and spent her early years enjoying sailing at the boat club. 

Shortly after graduating high school in 1943, Shirley moved across the country to San Diego, CA, where she worked as a telephone operator.  With World War II winding down, she went on to be an iconic “Rosie the Riveter” for Convair and Rohr Aircraft.  Shirley attended Grossmont College in San Diego from 1963 to 1965 where she received her Associate of Arts degree and became a certified dietician at El Cajon Valley Hospital where she had already been working through school.  After over a decade at the hospital, she became a cornerstone in the Dehesa Valley Volunteer Fire Department where she spent over 14 years as their secretary.

She met and married Walter Lee Thompson, Sr., in 1946.  They had four children and settled in Dehesa Valley in rural San Diego until they moved to Bozeman in 1992.

Shirley loved gardening, politics, reading, road trips and getting her feet in the ocean.  She enjoyed writing poetry.  Her books of hand-written poetry that began in her childhood will be cherished by her family for generations to come. She had a wonderful, positive outlook on life.  Any situation, good or bad, Shirley would have witty commentary that surmised the situation most appropriately. 

Shirley’s passion in life was her family.  She was always singing songs to her grandkids and teaching them poems and stories.  Everyone remembers “Nana’s” giggling demeanor as she recalled ditties and ad-libbed commentary.  This sense of humor did not overshadow her extreme intelligence.  She was referred to as a walking Webster’s Dictionary, but her interest through life was always in the medical field.  She read everything she could and was always well-informed.

She will be missed dearly.  Her absence leaves a void in her family dynamics, but the memories of her will be cherished by all.

Shirley is preceded in death by her parents; her husband; her sons, Walter Lee Thompson, Jr., and Ralph Milo Giamanco; her grandsons, Walter Lee Thompson III and Jay Wescom; her sister, Lillian Bellanger; and brother, Thomas Thornhill.  She is survived by her daughters, Wilma (Clayton) Vine of Wolf Point, MT, and Elizabeth Giamanco of Bozeman, MT; her son, Bruce (Michaele) Thompson of Bozeman, MT; 11 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

A private memorial service will be held in Wolf Point, MT on July 6th. 

In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in Shirley’s name to MSU WWAMI Mecial Education Program, P.O. Box 173080, Bozeman, MT 59717-3080.  

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