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Constance Rumely

August 27, 1924 ~ March 07, 2018

Service: July 21, 2018 2:00 PM
   Location: Pilgrim Congregational Church

Constance Rumely  (1924-2018)

Constance Mary “Connie” Rumely was a vibrant, active member of the Bozeman, Montana, community for more than 60 years.  She was a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, a founding member of Pilgrim Congregational Church, a Kindergarten teacher at Irving School, and a volunteer and supporter of numerous causes. She was the wife of former Montana State University ecology professor, John Rumely, for 64 years until his death in 2012, and had three children.  She passed away peacefully at age 93 on March 7, 2018, in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings following complications from a fall.  Her memorial service will be held later this summer at Pilgrim Church on Saturday, July 21 at 2:00 PM.

Throughout her life, she enjoyed good health and a sound mind.  She believed in keeping a positive attitude about all things, and called herself “the grateful recipient of countless blessings”.  She endeavored to meet needs and support excellence, wherever she found them.

She is survived by her brother, Robert Dudley (Louise) of Boulder, Colorado; her son, Bob Rumely (Cherilyn) of Athens, Georgia; and her daughter, Beth Plumbo of Spokane, Washington.  She is also survived by nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.  She was predeceased by her brothers, Richard Dudley (Anna-Carol) and Winston Dudley (May); and her daughter, Katherine Griffing (Robert). 

She was born on August 27, 1924, in southern India, where her parents, Raymond and Katharine Dudley, were Congregational missionaries.  She spent her childhood in India, and attended the Kodaikanal boarding school along with her brothers.  With the entry of the United States into WW II, she returned to the States in 1942 on a ship which sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and zig-zagged to avoid U-boats.  Though she had departed India before completing her final year of high school, she was admitted by Oberlin College.  

In the fall of her senior year at Oberlin, she met her future husband, John.  They claimed she got his attention by kicking his shins under a laboratory table in a Dendrology class. After graduating in 1946, she worked in Christian campus ministry at Duke University under a Danforth fellowship.  When both had graduated, they were married at Oberlin on March 20, 1948. 

They were a devoted and resourceful couple.  In summer 1948, John was accepted to the doctoral program in Ecology at (then) Washington State College, in Pullman, Washington.  After driving across the country, they arrived in Pullman with less than a dollar between them.  Not worried, the next day both got jobs in the WSC student union.   For the following eight years, as John worked on his PhD, she earned her “PhT” (Putting hubby Through) as a secretary to the Dean of the WSC Graduate School. During that time, their children, Bob and Katherine, were born.  In 1956, John was hired by the Botany Department at (then) Montana State College, and they moved to Bozeman.  The next year Beth was born. 

They loved Montana, with its beautiful mountains and prairies and clean skies, and set down deep roots.   In 1959, they and five other couples responded to a call to establish a Congregational Church in Bozeman.  Pilgrim Church, which now meets at 2118 South Third Avenue in Bozeman, became her lifelong cause, church family, and legacy. 

In 1962 they bought a house adjacent to the MSU campus, where they lived for the next forty years; she had saved money for the down payment by babysitting children in her home, in addition to caring for her own children. 

 In 1970 she returned to college to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education.  She founded the Pilgrim Preschool and served as its first Director.  Subsequently she became a Kindergarten teacher at Irving School, where she taught for twenty years.  She was a much-loved teacher and carried relationships with many of her students into their adult years. 

After John retired from MSU, they continued to be active in the MSU Range Club and in Pilgrim Church, and they enjoyed visiting their children and grandchildren.   With John’s health worsening, they moved to an Overbrook condominium in 2002.  She served as the secretary to the Overbrook Homeowner’s Association for many years and was John’s devoted caregiver during his final decline. 

She supported many social causes, including Bread for the World, the Central Asia Institute, Habitat for Humanity, and Heifer International.  Those wishing to make a gift in her honor are invited to consider the Stained Glass Window Fund at Pilgrim Church, the MSU Foundation’s John Rumely Award, or one of the charities above.

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"All of us want to express our gratitude for the way you thought ahead of us and eased the process of planning at this hard time.  So many of the fine touches you added were just right.  You made us feel we were the only ones on your itinerary and had all the time in the world to deal with us."

~ Mary B.
 
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