After meeting her youngest great-grandchild for the first time the week before, having played the past week with her two grandchildren from Macau, and having finished her last daily crossword, bible readings and her most recent mystery novel, on the evening of Jan. 30, 2017, Trudie Kinnard removed her bookmark and glasses one last time, closed her tired eyes and peacefully joined her maker from Fischer Cottage at St. John’s. She was 22 days short of her 99th birthday.
The second of six children, Gertrude Johanna Dobler was born on Feb. 21, 1918, in Tripp, S.D., to Jacob Dobler, Jr. and Johanna Schaefer Dobler. Her mother died of influenza when Trudie was 2, so she was sent to live on a farm with her grandmother, until her father remarried in 1922. She spent her early years growing up in Tripp and graduated from high school there in 1936. She attended Springfield Normal School in South Dakota for two years. Upon receiving her teaching certificate, she taught in one-room country schools for three years near Armour and Tripp, S.D., for a salary of $50 per month (but learning how to stoke the coal furnaces to keep the buildings warm) before attending Augustana College in Sioux Falls for two years.
During one of his sales trips across the prairies of the Midwest, a handsome traveling salesman, Brooke Kinnard, originally from Cashmere, Wash., first spotted a gorgeous young teacher working for the summer in a Tripp drugstore and asked her to meet him that night at the local county fair. Not liking her given name, he called her “Trudie,” a name that stuck. Their courtship was interrupted with his absence for the service during World War II. In the interim, she taught three years in Tripp and two in Cashmere. Following the war, Trudie, “the girl that waited,” and Brooke were married in Tripp on Feb. 10, 1946, and began a loving walk together that lasted over 60 years until his untimely death in 2006.
They first lived in Bonesteel and Mitchell, S.D., and then in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1951, they made the decision to adopt and literally overnight became the proud parents of a 3-month-old infant, who they named David Brooke Kinnard. Brooke and Trudie also lived in Texas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho before moving to Billings in 1964. During that time, she did the books for Brooke’s businesses, was a substitute teacher and taught Sunday school. In 1965, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Montana College and continued teaching while serving as a Pink Lady at St. Vincent’s Hospital and being very active in ladies’ church groups.
In 1969, Brooke and Trudie moved first to Reno, Nev., and then to the San Francisco Bay area of northern California. She was active in many church activities there, volunteering at a nursing home and enjoyed bridge, ladies auxiliaries and her many friends. They also spent a portion of many summers relaxing at the family cabin at Lake Wenatchee, Wash. In 1995, they retired to a new home in Billings, to be close to Dave, his wife, Elaine, and their family. Trudie enjoyed her time in retirement, socializing with her many friends and neighbors, as a member of the Supporting Cast of Billings Studio Theatre, her book clubs, bible study and Quilters at her church, as well as the Rimrock Red Hats. She loved her daily crosswords, nonstop murder mysteries and attending plays, especially those Dave was either in or had directed. Until her death, she was always a snappy dresser, complete with a matching scarf!
Trudie was predeceased by her parents, two sisters and three brothers. She is survived by her son, Dave (Elaine) Kinnard of Billings; her grandchildren, Chad (and fiancée, Dawn) Watterud of Hastings, Minn., Derek (Lai) Watterud of Macau, China, Lisa (John) Webster of St. Paul, Minn.; her beloved great-grandchildren, Tyler and Jared Watterud of Hastings, Oliver and Megan Watterud of Macau, Addison and Parker Webster of St. Paul; Dawn’s daughters (Taylor, Rylee and Cadence) of Hastings; two sisters-in-law; one brother-in-law; numerous nephews and nieces; and many good friends.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Trudie’s magnificent life will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at American Lutheran Church, 5 Lewis Ave., in Billings. Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
The family would like to thank Dr. Neal Sorensen and his staff who took such wonderful care of Trudie the past 22 years and always made her smile. We also extend our gratitude to the past and present staff of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries at The Vista, TCC and Fischer Cottage for her amazing care the past six years — we will never forget your loving care, concern and friendship for her, far beyond what was expected. We would also extend thanks to the Billings Public Library Senior Outreach Program for keeping her supplied with many engaging mysteries.
Memorials may be made to Billings Studio Theatre, American Lutheran Church, St. John’s Lutheran Ministries or charities of choice.
In her almost 99 years, Mom saw a lot of changes, from growing up with a party line telephone to being able to FaceTime on an iPad with her great-grandchildren in Minnesota and China. She could still tell you in great detail the plots and characters of the countless mysteries she read. While in recent years, she had to put up with several medical challenges and hearing loss, she seldom complained. She was unwavering in her faith and eternal love for my father and me. I am truly blessed to have her as my mom.