The world grew a little less bright during the early morning hours of Thursday, Nov.16, 2017, when Margaret Kathleen Emerson, nee O’Reilly, “was called home to her final reward.” She was 77.
Though actually born in Seattle where she spent most of her first four years, Kathleen took great pride in being a Butte “native.” While in Butte, Kathleen and her siblings attended the Catholic and public school systems. Kathleen graduated Butte High school in 1958.
Of the many things that Kathleen loved about life in Butte, having so many aunts and uncles and cousins around was her favorite. It was this unquestioned importance of family that would remain a defining factor throughout her life.
Some few years after having Butte High, she moved to the Seattle area where she lived with her sister Agnes. Kathleen was able to secure employment with Boeing and it was during this time that she met the man who she would love for more than 53 years, Mike Emerson. Mike and Kay were married June 15, 1963. Despite many promotions and transfers up and down the West Coast, they chose to leave Boeing. In 1971, they purchased a Sears Catalogue franchise in Polson, which would be considered home for the next 46 years.
During their time in Polson, they bought a 12-acre ranchette where they built their home and raised their four children. They also raised cows, horses, chickens and turkeys, as well as a large vegetable garden.
While Mike concentrated on running the Sears store, Kay went to work for the Montana State Department of Economic Security and focused on raising their family. This included countless hours attending and helping with sporting events, 4-H, Campfire Girls, hosting kids for tournaments, hours and hours of homework and everything else required to make a wonderful home for her family.
In her spare time, Kathleen was a voracious reader and lover of word games and puzzles. She even authored two murder mystery/thriller novels. In later years, she would develop a passion for researching the family history. This interest was the basis for small trips and adventure with Mike during retirement.
Michael and Kathleen spent their golden years splitting their time between Sun City, Arizona, and their home in Polson, as well as visiting children, grandkids, siblings and cousins. Kathleen’s life was a testament to kindness and caring. Everyone who knew her was better for it, and all are lessened by her absence.
Kathleen is survived by her four children, Peggy, Don, John and Matt; five grandchildren, Cody, Jamie, Bobbi, Ty and Casie; and two great-grandchildren; as well as three sisters, two brothers and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Kathleen was preceded in death by her parents, Robert Eugene and Margaret Cyrilla (Hanratty) O’Reilly; and her husband, Michael Robert Emerson.
A service will be planned for spring 2018 at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Helena.