We lost a strong-spirited lady when the Lord called Mrs. Edith Gibson Malia of Billings home on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at age 91. She was born on the farm in Hysham on Sept. 19, 1927, to the late L.D. and Mina Gibson. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Donald Gibson; sisters, Ruth and Dorothy; two infant sons, Patrick and Michael Malia; son-in-law, Dan McCall; and several beloved in-laws.
Edith grew up in Hysham and graduated from Hysham High School in 1945. She received a teaching degree from Western Montana College in Dillon and her BS from California State College, Hayward. In Dillon, she met her future husband, Joseph Malia of Butte, whom she married in 1948. Before their marriage, Edith taught in Long Lake, Washington. She also taught in Lima and Conrad, Montana.
In 1957, the family moved to California, where Edith took time from teaching to raise the couple’s three children. Edith would later return to education in 1968 in Livermore, California, where she taught for 24 years. After retirement, Edith and Joe returned to Billings to be near their children, grandchildren and extended family.
If there was ever a person who personified the word “spitfire,” it was Edith. As a child, her mother said she was “headstrong and determined.” Edith was a good ole country girl who wasn’t afraid of hard work or to tell you what was on her mind. She strived to overcome the many health issues she struggled with later in life.
Edith was a very determined woman. She made her way at a time when many women did not or could not have a career outside the home. Those who loved her and knew her best, admired and respected her. She was a model of a strong, successful woman for other women in her family, and it was a privilege to call her our mother.
Edith’s greatest enjoyment and pride was her family. After retirement from the classroom, she would spend much of her time caring for family and others, playing with her grandchildren, sharing family stories, talking politics and participating in the League of Women Voters. Edith also devoted special time to prayer and Bible Study. She enjoyed exercising, reading, doing crossword puzzles and traveling.
She is survived by her husband of 71 years, Joseph C. Malia; her daughter, Cheryl Malia-McCall of Billings; her two sons, Rich Malia and wife Pat of Billings, Donny Malia of Billings; eight grandchildren, Joey, Ty, Duke, Beau, John, Casey, Megan Malia and Kendra Malia Sutton and John McCall; 13 great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Rose Malia Chouinard and Norma Malia Daly; many special nieces, nephews, family and friends. Additionally, we would like to thank the staff at Tender Nest for their special care and kindness to mom.
A private family celebration of life will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Billings Public Schools Foundation’s Backpack Program, the American Cochlear Implant Alliance — ACI Alliance, P.O. Box 10, McLean, VA 22101-0103, or a charity of your choice.