January 4, 2019
Jeane Koefelda died on December 31, 2018, at Dahl Memorial in Ekalaka, Montana. She was born in Great Falls to Frank and Ruth (Faris) Koefelda on June 12, 1926. Jeane attended Great Falls Public and Catholic schools graduating in 1944 while working at Malmstrom Air Force Base as a clerk in the Base Exchange and transport driver at Gore Air Field. Her father was a lineman for Montana Power Company and was killed while stringing power lines on Central Avenue just 10 days before Social Security took effect. Jeane was the oldest of four children causing her to grow up fast and work to help the family survive. At the end of WWII, she married Jim Ledbetter and they had one son, Leslie; but soon divorced.
After working two years as a telephone switchboard and elevator operator at the Park Hotel, she took a job cooking on a ranch 50 miles south of Great Falls. She cared for her 2 yr old son, as well as the rancher’s 8 yr old son, Kenneth A. (Micky). Soon Kenneth Cope and Jeane married and had three more children- Tommy, Chucky and Marlene. They loved the challenges of ranch life, raising their blended family and spending lots of time on the Smith River. As time passed, this marriage ended; so Jeane took a job with the Army Corps of Engineers at the Libby Dam. She married Clarence R. (Bud) Gordon, a civil engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Together they enjoyed life outdoors fishing and hunting in many of the Northwestern States and Alaska. Jeane moved to Laurel in 1991 to care for her mother who passed away at age 99 ½. In the Billings area she volunteered as a reading tutor for adults. Totally, she was a reading tutor for 18 years in Oregon and Montana helping many people learn to read. In 2004, she moved to Ekalaka on the Quam/Waterland Family Ranch to be closer to her daughter, Marlene, and son-in-law, Luther. While there she helped children with reading, organized several Faris and Koefelda Family Reunions, volunteered at the museum and Montana Range Days.
She had many chapters in her life, but kept a determined yet upbeat attitude. Her favorite sayings were “Choose again” and “don’t let life get you down.”
Jeane is survived by sons, Leslie F. Cope of Townsend, MT and Kenneth A. (Micky) Cope of Millegan, MT; daughter, Marlene (Luther) Waterland of Ekalaka, MT; sister, Bernice (Bob) Grieb of Entiat, WA; daughter-in-law, Debbie (Larry) Stewart of Wheat Ridge, CO; grand-children Kenneth R. (Lindsey) Cope of Arvada, CO; Kynda Dixson of Australia, Brad (Sheri) Cope of Vancouver, WA, Bryn Cope, Brian Cope of Bend, OR, and Lucas (Jennifer) Waterland of Ekalaka, MT. Jeane is preceded in death by her parents listed above and step-father, Lloyd Love, two brothers, Frank E. Koefelda and Vincent Koefelda; sons, Charles R. Cope and Thomas D. Cope.
Cremation has taken place and her ashes will be spread at the family cabin on the Smith River this summer. Memorials may be sent to Carter County Museum.