Jean P. Elliott Skelton, 98, of Missoula, passed away on Sunday, May 14, 2017 at Hillside Health Care Center of natural causes.
Jean was born on Nov. 25, 1918, near Bonita to Lee Elliott and Bessie Thomson Elliott. Jean was born in the same house, on the same bed, and under the same quilt as her father. Headlights from a Model T Ford shone through the window to provide light for her birth. It was a bit unconventional but it got the job done. Being unconventional and getting the job done would be recurring themes in Jean’s life. Like her pioneer ancestors, she forged her own path.
Jean’s grandparents Stephen and Hilda Beishel Elliott, were among the first families to homestead in the Rock Creek area near the town of Bonita. Jean was the oldest of five children and grew up working on her family’s ranch. She often told stories of waking up at dawn to milk cows with her sister Doris.
Jean attended Missoula County High School and then the University of Montana for a time. She married Thomas “Bud” Skelton in 1940 and had two children, Randy and Patsy. While raising their young family, Jean and Bud helped the Elliott’s build and run the Rock Creek Lodge which opened in 1948. Jean and Bud divorced in 1967 but remained close friends until Bud’s death in 1994.
Although Jean held many positions throughout the years, her most cherished was at the University of Montana Food Service where she made life-long friends and had the opportunity to interact with thousands of students. She worked at what was affectionately called “The Food Zoo” until she was 81.
Jean loved traveling, watching baseball and Jeopardy, and was known as a mean bridge player, avid golfer, and skilled bowler. She enjoyed all three well into her 90s! Her zest for life was evident to all who met her. She was always quick to share a smile and a joke.
Jean was preceded in death by her son, Randy Skelton and siblings Ross Elliott, Doris Elliott Ekstrom and Bruce Elliott. She is survived by her sister, Joann Elliott Gjefle; daughter Patsy (Ted) Lympus; grandchildren Lisa Skelton (Gene Allison), Jennifer (Richard) Del Gaudio, Renn (J.C.) Weida, Steven (Laura) Lympus, and Leandra Lipson (Joseph Lehman); fourteen great grandchildren; a large extended family of nieces and nephews, and her many devoted friends whose love and care enabled her to live alone at home until she was 98.
A memorial will be held, per her instructions, at Westside Lanes in Missoula on Saturday, June 17, from 6-9 p.m. All who knew and loved Jean are welcome to share in celebrating her life.
Donations may be made in Jean’s honor to Hospice of Missoula at 800 Kensington, Suite 204, Missoula, MT 59801 or hospiceofmissoula.com/donate.
Jean’s family would like to thank the staffs of Hillside Health Care Center and Partners in Home Care/Hospice of Missoula for their kind and attentive care during Jean’s last months