Coral Jean Delger passed away Oct. 20, 2018, after a brief illness.
Coral Jean was born June 19, 1936, in Billings, to Richard and Cora (Piper) Ostrum. Her father said the grasshoppers were so bad that summer; he was mowing hay when he had to leave to take her mother to the hospital. When he got back he couldn’t tell where he’d been cutting — the grasshoppers had cleaned the field while he was gone.
Her childhood was spent on the ranch playing with her many first cousins, riding her pinto pony, “Patches,” working in the garden, and helping cook for the shearing, haying and threshing crews.
Coral graduated from Absarokee High School with the Class of 1954. In high school, she was active in band, pep band (played the trumpet), Glee Club and the Future Homemakers of America. Other memories she shared were time spent with her Grandmother Piper at her home in Absarokee, at the Jay Hotel in Absarokee, and at her home in Billings at 244 Yellowstone Ave.
Her mother died of cancer her senior year of high school. Her mother’s death played a big role in her becoming a caregiver. Coral went on to become a Registered Nurse and received her Master’s in Nursing Education, graduating Cum Laude in 1960. She was also selected for Phi Kappa Phi Honorary and was president of Alpha Tau Delta Nursing Honorary. In Bozeman, she joined Beta Sigma Phi sorority in 1959.
Coral Jean married Duane Frank Delger at Hope Lutheran Church on March 22, 1959, in Bozeman.
Coral’s list of accomplishments in nursing and medical care could span several pages. She spent many years working in oncology (cancer treatment) and epidemiology (she trained with the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta). She taught obstetrics and pediatrics for MSU. She shared exciting stories of time as a visiting nurse with the Yellowstone City County Health Department. She also taught the LPN program for School District 2. She set up an office in Billings for Fortis Corporation and she was one of the first RNs in Montana to become nationally certified as a Medical Case Manager. She went on to work for eight years at Employee Benefit Management Services (EBMS) as the Care Link Manager. After 29 years in the nursing field, Coral retired on Dec. 31, 1998.
If a friend or family member ever needed medical attention, Coral would be first on the scene … even if it meant hopping on a plane to Denver, Seattle or the Mayo Clinic. She would write down everything in her journals, and meticulously research the diagnoses and treatments.
She was an excellent caregiver to her husband, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2003. He preceded her in death just eight weeks prior to her passing.
Coral and Duane were members of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd since 1963. She taught Sunday School and served on the Church Council. She and her friends, LaVonne Iverson and Barbara Griffin started the Mary Martha Circle for mothers with young children.
Coral will be remembered for her love of being a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved skiing, riding horses and the many years of entertaining at the family cabin in Dean.
Coral passed peacefully, surrounded in love by her three children, Tammy, Marsha and Craig. Her family will be forever grateful to Dr. Matthew Fischer and the excellent nursing care she received at Billings Clinic, especially nurses Kaisa, Jesse and James Paul. At the time of her passing, Pastor Kay was singing “Children of our Heavenly Father.”
She is preceded in death by her parents; an infant sister, Clarice Dean; her husband, Duane; infant daughter; and nephew Jason Ostrum. She is survived by daughter Tamara (David) McGraw of Molt; daughter Marsha Delger of Billings; and son Craig (Christy) Delger of Bozeman. She has seven grandchildren: Julie McGraw; Kieler Salisbury and Sienna Salisbury; Ella, Ashlynn, Cambelle and Seeley Delger. She is also survived by her beautiful great-granddaughter Octavia Cuppy.
Other survivors are her brother, Merrill (Kathleen) Ostrum of Fishtail, their children Vanessa (Ken) Monson of Absarokee and Terrill Ostrum of Roscoe; her brother, Robert (Karen) Ostrum of Bozeman, their children Kari (Cory) Lamey of Wise River and Chad Ostrum of Fishtail. Also surviving are her sister-in-law and brother-in-law Marlene and Richard Funk of Puyallup, WA, their children Kendall (Theresa) Funk of Puyallup, Lorilyn (Steve) Kinder of Wichita, KS, and Kevin (Dana) Funk of Tacoma, WA; brother-in-law and sister-in-law LeRoy and Marilyn Delger of Bozeman, their children Darren (Jeanne) of Kansas City and Heidi (Dean) Blackford of Billings. She is survived by 20 great-nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1108 N. 24th St. West. Interment will be at the Rosebud Cemetery in Absarokee at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd (building fund), 1108 N. 24th St. W., Billings, MT 59102; MSU School of Nursing in Bozeman, MT 59717; or any other organization of your choice.