After a very brief illness, but a long, happy, extraordinary 101 years, our beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother Luella (Lou) DeSilva passed away on July 2, 2018. She was born February 6, 1917, in Wildrose, North Dakota. When she was 6 months old, the family moved to Grenora, North Dakota, a frontier town of 600 people with no running water or electricity. Their family had horses, cows, chickens and a large garden. Lou, brother Don, and sister Dorothy lived a happy, fun-filled life.
Lou graduated from Minot State University in elementary education. While in college, she was active in her sorority, sang in many vocal groups, played in the orchestra and acted in several school productions. She loved going to dances and parties and proudly claimed that she studied as little as possible.
After graduating from college, Lou moved to Plentywood, Montana, where she taught first grade. There she met the love of her life, Harold DeSilva, and on their first date he took her gopher hunting. It was a hit! They were a perfect match and were happily married for 70 years. Harold was a glider pilot in Wild War II and Lou followed him everywhere she could. Even though he was stationed at each location for only a couple of months, her outgoing personality always landed her a job.
After the war, Lou and Harold moved back to Plentywood and Harold purchased the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company from his parents. Harold and Lou owned and operated it for over 40 years. Harold also continued flying his private planes and Lou loved to go with him. They flew some place almost every week and, if there was no planned destination, they would simply fly to “no place in particular”. Lou especially treasured soaring through the clouds and even at 101 she daily observed the sky, marveling at the clouds, the colors of the sunset, a peaceful rain or a good snow storm.
When Harold “retired” and sold his Pepsi business, it only took him two weeks to become bored. So he began working as the administrator of the Pioneer Manor in Plentywood, thoroughly enjoying it and continuing in that role until he was 88 years old. This also turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for Lou. She quickly became the party planner extraordinaire, happily decorated for holidays and created fun themes for the monthly birthday parties. It seemed she had to raise the bar for herself every time and each party or holiday outdid the previous one. Both Harold and Lou were extremely talented musically, Harold on the trombone and Lou on the piano. Together they provided music and weekly entertainment at the Manor and played for many other special events in Plentywood.
They finally retired for good and moved to Missoula in 2002 to be near their family. Harold built his dream house and Lou decorated it. Through their 70 years of marriage, music was always the constant. They played together almost every night until Harold died in 2011. Although she was missing half of her duo, Lou continued playing dinner music monthly at The Springs and Grizzly Peak. She was very thankful for the many wonderful friends she met there.
Lou was a remarkable person in so many ways. She was thoughtful and kind and loved doing special things for other people. Lou prized being mischievous and could be quite the prankster. She delighted in keeping everyone guessing and provided a good laugh to all involved. She enjoyed being a “forever learner”, loved to write letters and could compose a poem or rewrite the words to a song for any occasion. She constantly sought to improve her vocabulary and her Christmas letters were legendary. She had many interests, enjoyed a good joke, and reading about random things like new postal stamps, the latest fashions, etc. Decorating for every holiday and special occasion was essential. She loved entertaining friends and family and any excuse to throw a party or organize a special dinner would do.
Lou was happy, fun, the life of the party, and an adventure seeker. She water skied well into her 70’s, went up in a hot air balloon which caught on fire, and parasailed high above the coastal trees in Mexico. In her younger years she would race down the country roads of Eastern Montana in her convertible with her hair flying in the wind. Friends said she was the only one they knew who could peel a banana, comb her hair, put lipstick on and drive at the same time. However, she took great pride in saying she never had an accident (which we truly considered a “miracle,” but perhaps everyone just knew she was coming and got of the way).
Above all Lou loved her family with all her heart and would do anything for them. And the feeling was mutual. She especially adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and never missed any of their special events. She’d come armed with her camera and ready to take dozens of photos to add to her refrigerator gallery. We were so lucky that she lived very close to us and we could “pop-in” numerous times a day. And she was always game for ice cream cone outing, trip to the mall, or dinner with the family. We’ll truly cherish our memories of her forever, but will especially think of her when we see cumulous clouds, rainbows, convertibles, the color pink or hear the song, “I’ll be Seeing You.”
Lou is survived by her daughter Carmen (Jim) McFarlane, granddaughters, Julie McFarlane, Kelly (Eric) Shields, and great-grandchildren Alex and Julianna Shields. Also surviving Lou are nieces Carol Condit and Jean Jacobson. Per Lou’s request, no services will be held.
Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting gardencityfh.com