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Ann C. Strecker, 82, journeyed to her final home on August 12, 2023, embraced by her loving family. Born fifth of 12 children to Vincent and Magdalene Roller in 1940, Ann grew up on a farm in New England, ND. She attended Catholic school and, after graduation, moved to Billings, Montana, to attend Business College, where she met her life partner, Nelson C. Strecker. Married on June 27, 1959, they had three daughters: Karen, Terri and Julie.
Ann and Nelson shared a love for music and especially enjoyed dancing the polka. Weddings, Octoberfest, and dancing on weekends brought them great joy for many years. Camping in the mountains around Red Lodge or on the Boulder River was how they spent many summer vacations with the girls, fishing, cooking on a campfire, and watching for bears! In later years, they took their grandkids camping, cementing relationships that lasted all their lives.
Ann spent many years caring for her young children before joining School District #2 as a paraeducator, working with special needs elementary kids. She held a place in her heart for many of those students, and remembered them by name, often recalling stories about the challenges they faced. After retirement, she and Nelson spent time in Arizona during the winter months, living in an RV park, playing music, singing and enjoying their time away from the cold of Montana. There, they met many friends from around the world, sharing music, singing and dancing. Informal jam sessions were common, and often they would play in retirement homes, sharing their love of music with others. Ann also loved to walk, and she and Nels walked many miles until his health failed, and she continued to walk alone.
Nelson faced many health challenges, dozens of surgeries, and eventually lost his legs to diabetes. Ann never faltered in her loving care for him. No matter the challenge, no matter how daunting, they faced life’s tribulations as a team, and Nelson often told people he had the best partner in life. His love for Ann grew as his health failed, and he passed in 2016, leaving Ann to find her way in life without him.
Ann made friends easily, from her pals at her schools to friends she shared with Nelson. They had many adventures with their siblings and spouses, camping, traveling, spending time together, always with music in the background. In 2018, Ann was diagnosed with lung cancer, and began chemo, which slowed its growth but didn’t stop it. In 2022, she suffered a minor stroke and moved to Wyndstone, a retirement facility where she had many friends. People often mentioned her friendliness, her smile, and how much they enjoyed knowing her. Walking through the building took time because she had to stop and greet each person she saw, introducing them to one of her daughters or her grandkids. Many of her friends commented on her wonderful family and how they cared for her when she became ill, and her family appreciated the friendships that made her last years joyful.
Her grandkids and great-grandkids brought her the most joy, and she especially loved the little ones. She always had a fondness for babies and felt blessed to have 10 special great-grands. In her last years, those babies gave her much joy and love. Sunday dinners with daughter Julie’s family were the highlight of her week (well, that and Friday afternoon Happy Hour at Wyndstone, always “down” for a glass of wine or a beer). Despite the health challenges she faced, she never complained or demanded sympathy, choosing to focus on the positive and move forward. Every day, until two days before passing, she got up, dressed for the day, and participated fully in life. Not a precious minute was spent feeling sorry for herself.
Most important to Ann was her faith. A lifelong Catholic, she loved her Church, her Church family, and her God, steady in her belief that the best was yet to come, and she faced the many health challenges of her husband and herself with stoicism and confidence that God would see her through.
Ann loved her large, extended family. She was predeceased by her parents; her brothers, Arnold, Leonard, Paul and Francis; her sister Agnes; and her beloved husband of 57 years, Nelson. She is survived by daughters Karen Henderson (Mark Johnson), Terri Christianson (Louis Leach) and Julie Asher (John); her grandchildren, Michelle Hutchinson (Bram), Erin Stephens (Jim), Ryan Moe (Amanda), Adam Tew (Caiti Jackson), Hailey Jacobs (T.J.), and Logan Sullivan; her great-grandchildren Hazel and Penn Hutchinson, Camden and Hunter Stephens, Mataya, Elliyana, Kaliya, and Myla Moe; Dublin and J.J. Jacobs; siblings Rita Steiner (Walt); Mary Jane Annis (Merle); Mike Roller (Karen); Bernice Imhoff (Larry), Louise Kiefer (Fred); Steve Roller (Peggy) and many, many beloved nieces and nephews and others who shared her life over the years. Her family would like to recognize her many friends, who have enriched her life and brought her joy.
Ann’s life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 717 18th St. West, with reception to follow. Interment will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at Yellowstone National Cemetery, in Laurel, Montana, where she will join Nelson in eternal rest.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, Disabled American Veterans, or the charity of choice.
Until we meet again, Mother, rest in peace.