Karan Lynn Dunnigan

1957 ~ 2024 (age 66) 66 Years Old

Karan Dunnigan Obituary

Karan Lynn Dunnigan passed away early in the morning on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, surrounded by family at her home in Billings, after a year-long battle with cancer. She was born in 1957 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Karan graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1980 with a degree in English, and from the University of Montana School of Law in 1983 with her juris doctorate.

Karan first moved out West in the summer of 1977 to work in Yellowstone National Park, a life-changing experience, both because it fueled her lifelong love of wild places and because she met her future husband and partner of 42 years, Gary Connelley. Karan and Gary moved to Billings after they graduated law school in 1983, and she began a 38-year legal career in government service, retiring as the Field Solicitor for the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Department of Interior. On June 21, 1991, Karan and Gary eloped, surprising almost no one, given that they had been together for nearly 10 years at that point. Their son, Davis, was born in 1994 and their daughter, Julia, in 1997.

Karan leaves behind a legacy of deep compassion for her family, friends, and the community. She volunteered for decades as a reading tutor and gave pro bono family legal advice to those in need. She consistently stood up for causes she believed in and always looked out for those around her without ever being asked. She believed in the platinum rule: do unto others as they would like done unto them, and lived by that motto. Karan loved to be outside, hiking, picnicking and gardening, as well as reading voraciously. An avid sports fan, she loved spending time with her family cheering on the Montana State Bobcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers. She could always be counted on as a steady hand in times of trouble and great company, often with generous pours of wine and always with cheese and crackers. She was a loving wife, an excellent partner, doting mother, caring sister, thoughtful and compassionate friend, and a diligent worker who believed in doing things the right way no matter how large or small the task.

Karan was predeceased by her parents, Lorn and Cecilia, and her sister, Beth. She is survived by her husband, Gary, and children, Davis (Meaghan), and Julia, as well as her siblings David (Joy), Diane (Tom) and Joan (Bob), Brian (Jody), and many nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and friends, who will miss her deeply.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Angel Fund through the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools would be appreciated.

A celebration of life will be held in June with family and friends.

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