Mary Ellen Kuzara
Mary Ellen Kuzara passed away on August 2nd, 2023 at St. Vincents Medical Center in Billings Montana.
Mary was born on June 22, 1943 to Doan and Regina Kinnaman (Hale). Growing up, her parents and 3 sisters Ruth, Rose and Doni lived and worked on various ranches in the Sheridan area. Mary also had a 1/2 brother, Chuck Hale.
As a teenager and young adult, Mary spent much of her time riding and training her horses and she also worked for the Nash family, helping to ride and train their racehorses. Mary always spoke very highly of Archie and Mrs Nash and they were a great influence in her life. Mary spent many hours in the saddle (or bareback) and horses were her true passion at that time of her life.
In 1965 Mary married Jim Bocek and moved to his family's ranch past Wyarno on Dutch Creek. Over the next 13 years, Jim and Mary had three children, Michelle, James and Jennifer. For many years Mary worked long days raising the kids, planting and tending gardens and trees, harvesting and canning food, making delicious home cooked meals, baking, and just being an amazing mom. Mary was a self-taught baker and was known for her delicious homemade pies. She also gave her kids many wonderful childhood memories of special home made birthday cakes and she put a lot of effort into making her kids and grandkids feel special and loved. In addition to all of this, Mary put in many hours in the family businesses of road construction and hay contracting and pitching in to help with ranch work, including checking on pregnant cows in the middle of the night in the freezing cold. Mary took pride in her work and was always the last one to bed and the first to get up.
Mary and Jim divorced in 1990 and within a couple of years she met Mike Kuzara. Mary stayed at the Dutch Creek house, and Mike moved there after they were married in 1992. Mary continued to be the great homemaker and gardener that she always was, and now added photography to her interests.
Together Mary and Mike took hundreds of photos and entered and won several local photo contests. Mary became interested in editing photos and taught herself how to use photoshop. Mike and Mary were also able to travel a bit now that the kids were grown and they were able to visit Finland where Mike's former exchange student Esa, lived with his family.
Mary also enjoyed traveling to Arizona to visit her son James who had moved to Phoenix in 1998.
In 1995 Mary was excited to have her first grandchild Kami, and that same year she received a kidney transplant which gave her a new lease on life for the next 20 years. During this time Jennifer married and a new son in law, Brent and more grandchildren, Tanner, Colson, Jase and Easton Bennett were added to the family. From 2003 until 2012, Mary spent many hours taking part in Kami’s activities and was always at nearly every 4H, junior rodeo or soccer event and was the photographer for these occasions, leaving the family with many picture memories to look back on. As the other grandchildren grew, Mary took advantage of every chance to photograph them as well, and her walls were eventually filled with pictures of grandchildren. And finally in 2014 she had a great granddaughter, Kadence, who she enjoyed as much as all the others, along with Mike's grandchildren. They were all so special to her.
Mary was very active to the end. She always had several projects lined up , and in the spring through fall, she spent most of her time outside tending to her many flower beds, trees and her garden. She was always on the lookout for hummingbirds and every year she would be planting new flowers in hopes of attracting them. She loved her home and loved being there. Mary faced life's challenges with a smile and always radiated joy through everything.
Words can't describe how much she will be missed. We will all miss her reassuring smile and handwritten letters and years of advice and encouragement. She showed her love to her family in everything she did and that is where she left her legacy.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.