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Joan Renee "Dutch" Grabinski
March 24, 1939 ~ October 22, 2023 (age 84) 84 Years Old
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Joan Renee “Dutch” Grabinski took her last breath on Oct. 22, 2023, with family surrounding her. She is now home with so many of her loved ones who have gone before her.
Joan was born to LeRoy and Dorothy Larson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 24, 1939. She was the third child of eight and their first daughter, so her father nicknamed her his “Little Duchess.” Because of this, there were moments of confusion and laughter when her Minnesota family came to Montana and met Dutch’s friends who only knew her as Joan. When the Larson family moved to Sauk Rapids, she met Clayton Grabinski, who was a friend of Gary, her older brother. She graduated from Sauk Rapids High in 1957 and married Clayton on Aug. 24 of that year at Trinity Lutheran Church.
They started their life in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where their sons Gary and Craig were born. Shortly after, they moved to the Forest Lake area, where they had room for large family gatherings, horses and the first of many family dogs. Daughters Vicki and Joy were born here and, in the mid-’60s, Joan’s young sisters Deb and Pam joined the family, creating a very close bond.
Joan and Clayton worked hard to provide for their family and passed on their love of the outdoors with camping, boating, skiing and fishing every weekend possible. This tradition continued with their grandchildren, as they would take them fishing every chance they had.
In 1977, their dream of living in Big Sky Country was realized when the family moved to Lewistown. Joan joined the Yogo Sapphire Chapter of the Sweet Adelines and the Sounds of Joy Gospel Choir. She also was a competitive bowler and traveled to several WIBC Championship Tournaments with her Snowy Lanes Team. With the help of Clayton’s brother Lawrence, Joan and Clayton acquired a claim at the top of Alder Gulch near Virginia City. They spent many hours restoring the small, crude cabin. Many friends and family treasure the memories of the time spent with them in the beautiful Gravelly Mountains.
In 1986, Joan and Clayton moved to Sheridan, Montana. Several years were spent hunting and fishing with Clayton’s brother Lawrence and hosting family and friends. Joan had more time for her hobbies at this time. She loved working in her lawn and enjoyed crocheting, sewing and creating handmade gifts for her family and friends.
Joan worked a variety of jobs through her life, lastly flagging for Riverside Contracting. Once Clayton retired from that same company due to health reasons, they spent six years snowbirding between the Lake Havasu, Arizona area and Billings, finally settling in Billings, where Joan lovingly cared for her husband for many years until his passing in 2016.
Joan found her peace with her daily walks with her pup, Meka, visiting with family and her many friends and always sharing a smile with everyone, even a stranger.
Joan was preceded in death by her husband; her son, Craig; grandson Derek; brothers Ron, Gary, Richard, Jack and Jim Larson; sisters Deb Wendell and Pam Fischer; all her beloved brothers-in-law; and special sister-in-law Alice Streed.
She is survived by Gary, Vicki (Mike) Pyette, Joy (Charlie) Friend, Jackie (Dave) Bandzak; grandchildren Tara (John) Christianson, Tammy (Casey) Von Olnhausen, Josh, Jake and Joe (Madison) Friend, Travis Grabinski, Jenna (John) Eckstein; great-grandchildren Tayler, Ava and McLaine Christianson, Hayden and Evan Von Olnhausen; and Bronwyn Welch; honorary grandchildren Gwen, Jen, Vance, Randy, Tina, Annette; her many beloved nieces and nephews; special sisters-in-law; and her lifelong friends Gary and Yvonne Fuglie, and Bert Lommel.
Special thank you to the wonderful friends and Care Team members at Highgate Senior Living. They truly treated her like family.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. The service will be livestreamed; please visit this page for streaming. A graveside service will follow at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park.