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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Carmen Louise Cross

Carmen Louise Cross peacefully passed from this world on May 16, 2014. Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home in Glendive.  A Vigil Service will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at the Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home in  Glendive.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Glendive with Father Francis Schreiber officiating.  Rite of Committal will follow in Dawson County Cemetery in Glendive.  Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home of Glendive has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Born on October 26, 1919 in Columbus, she was the second youngest daughter of Louis and Carmen Jarussi who immigrated from Rivisondoli, Italy in 1907. Her Italian immigrant heritage instilled in Louise an understanding about the value of education, a boldness to be involved in community culture, and a belief in human potential—ideals she, in turn, passed along to her own children.

Louise was preceded in death by her husband, John, her parents, and eight siblings: Loretta Jarussi, Lillian Jarussi, and John Jarussi, all of Red Lodge; Florence Fairbanks of Joliet; Ethel Shaheen of Erie, IL; Ernestine Cameron of Helena; Hugo Jarussi of Fishtail; and Rosemary Milmont of Cheyenne, Wyo.  Also preceding Louise in death were her grandson, Brian Maple, son-in-law, Steve Maple, and daughter-in-law, Carmelita Cross.

Louise is survived by her older sister Adeline “Toots” Donnes of Red Lodge and six children: Melvin, Greg (Corrine), Catherine (Michael Erwin), Brian (Danny Mann), Justin (Lonnie), and Mark (Lona). Louise has 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grand children:  Anna Cross (Brian Wile), Nathanial, and Lillian; Nathan Cross; Thomas Cross; Keila Starin (Justin), Athena, Angus, and Olive; Lyndsay Serpe (Ron), Max, and Jasper; Steven Maple (Susan), Emilee, and Kaylee; Jonathan Maple (Tara), Declan, and Calem; John Cross (Kathy), Ethan, and Hallie; Elliot Cross (Jenay); Emily Cross; Megan Makelky (Aaron) and Mac; Rachel Cross; Sarah Cross; Rebecca Cross.

Louise began her education in Red Lodge, and went on to graduate from the University of Montana at Missoula with a Bachelor’s degree in English and speech, and minors in music and French.

Louise married John Melvin Cross on June 23, 1943. During her senior year at college, Louise met John while participating in a speech tournament. She was the top-placing declaimer, and he was the top debater. Their paths did not cross again until they were both new teachers in Park City. The relationship bloomed, and they were married at the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Ill. on the eve of John being shipped out to serve in the European Theater of World War II.  After WW II, John joined Louise in Helena to begin their life together. In 1952 they relocated to Glendive where John established a successful accounting practice. Theirs was a true love story that lasted 36½ years.

A fiercely independent and well-educated woman, Louise dedicated much of her time and talent to the service of others while nurturing and ensuring a strong family. She became well known throughout not only the local community, but also statewide for her ideology, hard work, and dedication to important issues.

Louise loved history, the American West, and its people. She devoted considerable time and effort to establishing the Frontier Gateway Museum in order to preserve Eastern Montana history.  Louise served as curator of the Museum over a number of decades, ensuring proper and meticulous handling of artifacts as well as making sure all children had access to the Museum and its resources.  Because of her care and attention to this worthy cause, a room within the Museum was named in her honor.

Louise lived for, as well as in, the Glendive community. She served Dawson County as an election judge and ran for a seat on the county commission. She was an active member of the Dawson County Democrats, Dawson Community College Foundation Board, Bell Street Bridge Preservation Committee, and American Association of University Women.  She was committed to Sacred Heart Church where she taught religious education classes, was a church council member, and a member of the Catholic Daughters. Louise was truly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Louise leaves a legacy that includes her work as a protector of the environment, especially for the great State of Montana.  Having grown up a stone’s throw from a Red Lodge coal mine, Louise knew first-hand the importance of a clean environment. She was an ardent environmentalist and became a member of the Ducks Unlimited, Audubon Society, National Wildlife Foundation, Northern Plains Resource Council, and Dawson County Resource Council.  In 1997 she advocated for the Glendive City Council’s approval of Resolution #2534 to protect Makoshika State Park from oil development.

Louise was elected as a delegate to the 1972 Montana State Constitutional Convention where she continued to defend the environment.  She was the only woman who chaired an Article Committee. Because of her unfaltering leadership and the unfailing support of her fellow delegates, Montana’s Bill of Rights contains a constitutionally protected right to a “clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”  Among other things, the article provides for land reclamation and water rights. This article was challenged in 1991 and upheld by the Montana Supreme Court.

Louise knew that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” does not happen easily or automatically. On March 21, 2014 Louise, along with four other delegates, was again defending the Montana Constitution and winning. Democracy requires the involvement of good citizens if it is to be successful. By her example, Louise instilled the importance of this principle in her children and all who knew her.  Louise has now passed the torch to us all to fight for and preserve the ideals of democracy for future generations. 

Louise received many awards over the years including 2001 Montana Historical Society award for Contributions to  Montana History, Glendive Woman of the Year, Montana Woman Democrat of the Year, The Diana Award, 2007 Lifetime Governor’s Award for Civic Engagement, and in 2009 she was recognized for her “Pride in Glendive” essay.  She concluded the essay by saying, “Yes, Glendive is a fine place to live and call home.” These awards only partially recognize the impact that Louise had on each of our lives as a sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, friend, and protector.

She has fought the good fight, she has finished the race, she has kept the faith.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in the name of Louise Cross to the Frontier Gateway Museum

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