Gladys Mae (Bygland) Freeman, 87, of Billings, passed away at her home on Oct. 19, 2017, after an extended illness.
The daughter of Iver S. and Tillie Tisthammer Bygland, Gladys was born Sept. 6, 1930, on her parents’ farm in South Branch community in rural Albion, Nebraska. She was baptized and confirmed at Immanuel Zion Lutheran Church. She passed from this life at her home in Jensen Cottage, where she was dearly loved. We will miss her tremendously.
Gladys loved teaching. Upon graduating Albion High School in 1947, she taught country school near her home, riding her trusted horse to school. She later attended Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, then moved to Montana in 1952, where she was a teacher’s aide in Crow Agency/Hardin public schools. She completed her studies at Eastern Montana College (now MSU-Billings) in 1972, and taught fourth/fifth grades in Hardin School District from 1972 to 1987. She never judged her students, who came from all walks of life, and well into her last year fondly recalled joyous memories of them.
On April 5, 1952, she married Douglas “Doug” Y. Freeman, of Neligh, Nebraska, at South Branch church. They lived in Hardin from 1952 to 2006, with an interim move to Billings in 1998 to 2002. In 2006, upon Doug’s passing, Gladys relocated to Billings.
Affectionately called “Twink,” Gladys had many hobbies. She grew vibrant peonies and roses in her garden and made the best apple pie with fruits from her tree. She was proud of her Norwegian roots, often making lefse and krumkake for the holidays. She hosted Bridge Club for the Ladies at her home. Gladys held fond memories of the “Dirty Dozen,” a group of Hardin couples who celebrated birthdays, holidays and casual outings for years. Gladys was a very kind person with a keen sense of humor well into her last month. Even when faced with medical setbacks, she could poke fun at the situation and see the bright side. Gladys was tough-as-nails and not one to wallow in misfortune, strengths that earned her children’s respect and admiration for decades.
Gladys had great faith in people and remained active in the Hardin community, including Cub Scout Den Mother, teachers’ bowling league, and a 50-year member of the Order of Eastern Star Jasmine Chapter. She also joined the United Methodist Church and volunteered at voting polls.
She is preceded in death by her parents; husband Doug; her brothers, Stephen and John; sisters Gunhild and Agnes Kettleson; sister-in-law Edna Bygland; brothers-in-law Pershing Kettleson, Dale Larson and Duane Gladem; and son-in-law Steve Lakey.
She is survived by her children, Julie Hermsmeyer, Jayne Lakey, Doug (Lori) Freeman and Janet (David) Freeman; grandchildren Christine, Michelle, Shawn, Matt, Megan, Grace and Evan; great-grandchildren Cyrus, Bailey, Alana and Connor; sisters Cora Larson and Irene Gladem; and brother Iver (Darlene) Bygland; as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.
A Celebration of Gladys will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at Big Horn County Historical Museum in Hardin, with Pastor Charles Bott officiating. Inurnment will be in Fairview Cemetery, with reception to follow at the Museum. Cremation has taken place.
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to the Big Horn County Historical Society; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; or St. John’s Lutheran Ministries Foundation.
Special thank you to staff at St. John’s Lutheran Homes, Jensen Cottage, and PA-C Wiesner for their loving care.