Alice Helen (Okins) Senechal, aged 102, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by family on March 31, 2019, in Billings. Alice was born at the family home in Drady, rural Minot, North Dakota, on Jan. 7, 1917, the fifth of six children born to Edward and Hattie (Jones) Okins. Her mother died when she was 4 years old, and Alice and her older sisters became caretakers of the family. The family moved to Velva, North Dakota, in 1927, where she came to know the Senechal family and their six children, who had moved to Velva from Drake, North Dakota, in 1924. Alice graduated from Velva High School in 1936 and was working at the Velva School Library when she was visited by Howard Senechal. She invited him to her home for lunch and fixed him a meal from her last jar of canned chicken. Little did she know when she butchered and canned the chicken that it would win over her bachelor. Alice lived at home to care for her father until his death in 1941.
Just before WWII, Alice moved to Longview, Washington. Howard soon followed and they were married on Oct. 14, 1941. Howard joined the Army Air Force in 1943, and they had adventures all over the country where he was stationed, including Camp Crowder, MO; Camp Murphy, FL; Fort Monroe, VA; Philadelphia, PA, and Presque Isle, ME.
After the war, Howard and Alice moved to Billings, where their two children were born. Howard and Alice built a house on four acres in Lockwood in 1954, and Alice went to work at Lockwood School, where she managed the lunch program for 34 years. All who went to school there remember the home-cooked meals and the famous cinnamon rolls.
Howard passed away in 1990, and Alice continued to maintain the Lockwood property (push mowing two acres every week) until the age of 82, when she moved into Billings. In 2007, at age 90, Alice was the oldest participant in the Big Sky State Games, where she completed the Anything Goes 4-by-100 Relay as part of the “Four Generations” team with her daughter, grandson and great-grandson, winning a gold medal.
Alice joins her husband; parents; three brothers, James, Leo (Della) and Charlie; and two sisters, Edna (Tebert) Thoreson and Marie (Levi) Bursau, all who preceded her in death.
She is survived by her son Keith; daughter Sharon (Clarke) Elliott; granddaughter Becky (Bob) Kelly and their children Grant Kelly and Lauren (William) Olsen; grandson Mike (Allison) Nys and their son Alec Nys; special neighbors Don, Lorna, Julie and Earl who helped her live independently in her home for many years; and several nieces, nephews, bonus grandchildren, bonus great-grandchildren and a bonus great-great-grandchild.
A celebration of Alice’s life will be held at 3p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 1290 Sierra Granda Blvd., in Billings, where Alice was a member for 54 years. A reception will follow the service. Alice’s favorite color was purple, followed closely by any shade of pink. Please wear your favorite spring colors to the service.
Memorials may be made to Atonement Lutheran Church or a charity of one’s choice. The family would like to thank Senior Independence Hospice for their special care of Alice over the last few weeks.
Mom, Granny, Nana, Aunt Alice, you were an amazing lady and we will miss you dearly. No one looked more beautiful than you on your 100th birthday.