LaVern Margaret (Hollinger) Cornish was born in Gladstone, North Dakota, on Sept. 7, 1930. She was the ninth of 10 children born to Hungarian immigrants Ignatz and Theresia (Illich) Hollinger. The family eventually moved to Butte, Montana, where her strong work ethic and resourcefulness learned during the North Dakota Depression and drought began to really shine as she helped support her family. She was an avid swimmer and enjoyed spending time in the surrounding mountains. After graduation from high school, she moved her parents to Missoula, Montana, and began a successful career with the telephone company. Her hard work and dedication to helping her parents allowed them to live a comfortable life in Missoula.
Her love for the outdoors took her to the ski slopes of Lost Trail Pass, where she caught the eye of her future husband, J Howard Cornish. After many attempts to read her name on the back of her tow belt, he finally succeeded in meeting the girl of his dreams. Soon a marriage that lasted both of their lives began. They moved to Billings to start a family and had two children: Cheryl and Don. With their love of the outdoors, they purchased a cabin at East Rosebud Lake in the heart of the Beartooth Mountains. They restored the cabin and spent many beautiful summer and winter days up at the lake. It was there that our mother came to know her Creator, surrounded by the majestic beauty of the mountains.
She was a respected and successful businesswoman, owning a small grocery store and eventually a large truck prorating business. She also continued to work at various jobs and in her 80’s, she received an award as the top-selling sales associate at J.C. Penney.
Her giving spirit was especially evident one spring when she met two young ladies from Kyrgyzstan while serving breakfast at a local hotel. Meerim and Rabiia were stranded in Billings because the seasonal jobs they were promised at Cooke City never materialized. LaVern and Howard took them in and helped them find jobs and assisted them in learning English and American history. Meerim and Rabiia very quickly formed a loving bond with their new American parents, which continued after they returned to Kyrgyzstan.
LaVern believed it was important to learn new things throughout life and she imparted this philosophy to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, encouraging them to “stay on their learning path.”
Near the end of her life, LaVern talked about memories of coming back at night to the cabin at East Rosebud with the light glowing through the windows. She recalled visiting her mother who always left a light on and had warm cinnamon rolls waiting no matter what time of night LaVern and her family arrived. LaVern’s life journey ended when she reached the warm light of the Lord on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
LaVern was preceded in death by her husband, Howard. She is survived by her sister, Arlene (Art Brackebush); two children Cheryl (Carl Anderson) and Don (Lori); grandchildren Luke Anderson (Annah),Teresa Anderson, Spencer Cornish; and great-grandchildren Thatcher, Thorin and Porter.
Services will be held in Missoula at a later date.