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Bulah Velma Manning
September 13, 1919 ~ August 6, 2022 (age 102) 102 Years Old
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Bulah Velma Manning, 102, passed away on Aug. 6, 2022, in Billings.
Bulah was born Sept. 13, 1919, at the family homestead on Four Mile Road between Birney and Decker. She was the youngest of eight children of Ernest Henry and Bulah (Christoph) Satterthwait and was the last survivor of this generation of her family. She was delivered at home by her father and promptly named Bulah after her mother. Her 2-year-old brother thought she was a “doll,” so that remained her family name for years.
The family moved to Billings in the late summer of 1925, where she started first grade at the new Orchard School in south Billings. She subsequently attended McKinley, Roosevelt and Jefferson, graduating from Billings High School in 1937. She received her two-year diploma from Eastern Montana Normal School (now MSUB) in 1939.
When Bulah and her friend Dorothy Schock were going to be high school seniors and didn’t have boyfriends, they decided to enroll in mechanical drawing class (to meet boys). They were the only females in the class and the plot worked. The second day of class a different boy sat behind Bulah — she had caught his eye and he traded seats to be near her. Turned out great — she and that boy struck up a friendship and they were married four years later. She and Robert E. Manning were married at St. Patrick’s Church on Aug. 31, 1940. Young and in love, they never felt deprived but had to budget carefully on Bob’s $75 monthly salary. $22 for food, $25 for rent, small amounts put into individual envelopes for utilities and insurance. Leftover spending money was usually $6. There was no car, no telephone, no “extras,” but they never missed them.
In 1942, they moved to Great Falls, where Bulah was also employed. Bob was drafted into WWII in 1943 and Bulah returned to Billings until March 1946 when Bob returned to Great Falls, where their daughter Bonnie was born in 1947. Daughter Marilou was born in Billings in 1950. Their first home was in the 1100 block of Avenue D — almost a country setting and one of only two homes in that block: no sidewalks or paved street, and no phone service for almost a year. Years later, they returned to the same neighborhood, living 30 years at 1049 Ave D.
Bulah worked in several secretarial jobs, retiring from the History Dept at Eastern Montana College in 1981. She later worked at Arby’s on Grand Ave, one of the older generations providing steady dependable service on a part-time basis. She retired a second time after five years.
Except for a few years in Great Falls and Gillette, Wyoming, Billings was “home” to Bulah. She remembered standing on the corner of Broadway and Montana Avenue shortly after they were married in 1940, watching the Northern Hotel fire.
She and Bob moved to Westpark Village in 2002 and, following Bob’s death in 2007, she lived there until 2013, when she moved to Laurel to live with her daughter Marilou. She enjoyed all the trips back and forth to Billings, watching the crops grow, geese flying overhead and seeing an occasional eagle or the training planes high in the sky.
She loved her family and being able to attend her grandsons’ sports activities at Laurel High School. Although Bonnie was far away in El Paso, they made numerous trips there and for the last several years Bonnie called her mother every day — a wonderful gift.
Bulah was preceded in death by her parents, siblings, husband Bob and sons-in-law Ralph Wright and Ron Gaskill.
She is survived by her daughters, Bonnie Wright and Marilou Gaskill; granddaughter Barbara Jo Wright; grandsons Robert (Kyra), Ronald (Jeana) and Jason (Wendy) Gaskill; great-grandchildren Zachery, John, Olivia, Sophia and Tegan; step-great-grandchildren Alyssa, Adriana and Amanda; sister-in-law Mary Ann Cote; many nieces and nephews; and her special Early Morning Coffee Group friends.
Graveside services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Mountview Cemetery with luncheon to follow at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral.