A warm smile surely greeted Anna Mae Badovinatz Kosovich as she made her life’s final journey. Anne joined many family members in heaven on November 25, capping off a remarkable life.
Named by her sister Mary after the famous silent film star Anna May Wong, “Anne” was born in Absher, Montana on November 3, 1922, the fifth of seven children to George and Ella Badovinatz. Anne outlived Absher, the coal-mining establishment turned ghost town. There, alongside many Croatian, Italian, Hungarian, Finnish, Scottish and English immigrants, Anne grew up in this small community, in its heyday supporting a population of 160 and a one-room schoolhouse.
The Badovinatzs eventually moved, tearing down their house in Absher and using the lumber to build a bunkhouse for the three Badovinatz boys in Roundup. The move put Anne and her sister Ruby into the same grade at school, forging a deep friendship that never waned.
“Anne should be remembered as such a good person,” Ruby, 94, said recently.
Anne graduated from Roundup High, taking her first job at Yellowstone National Park working at Canyon Hotel. It was one of several jobs she held after high school, including a job at a local Roundup cafe which she would kindly tell you was not her favorite. She was not cut out to be a waitress, preferring to visit a little too much. Anne and Ruby worked together at the Musselshell County Courthouse in the Clerk and Recorder’s office. She moved on from that to a job with Roundup Coal Co.
Anne worked until meeting her husband, Jerry Kosovich, after World War II. Jerry served as a radio operator on a B26 Widowmaker over the South Pacific before returning to Montana. The two were married in 1949 in Roundup, where Jerry began building a very successful financial planning business with New York Life Insurance. The two became busy raising a family of four, losing one infant son.
Anne and Jerry moved to Billings in the early 1950s. While Jerry worked hard, Anne did too, using her creativity to keep her three boys and girl busy with sports, dancing lessons, music lessons, debate meets and choral concerts. Anne was involved in the Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs with her children, PTA at Highland School and was a Eucharistic Minister for St. Patrick’s taking communion to homebound neighbors. Anne was prolific, decorating at the Yellowstone Country Club ladies luncheons and volunteering with the Pink Ladies at St. Vincents Hospital -- which she cherished after always wanting to become a nurse.
As a byproduct of their hard work, Anne and Jerry purchased a timeshare home in Big Sky in the early 1980s, a testament to their love of the outdoors, which they fostered in their kids and grandchildren. The Big Sky house gave the family peace and joy, and is now enjoyed by a fourth generation of the family.
The Kosovichs soaked up the splendor of Montana, but didn’t stop there. Anne loved traveling with Jerry, many times thanks to New York Life. The duo traveled domestically and abroad, visiting Florida, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, among many other places. Anne’s very favorite were the trips to New York City. She especially loved Broadway plays, fine restaurants, shopping and dressing sharply for the Big Apple.
The two even took a trip back to Croatia to see their parents’ homelands. Bad weather and unnavigable roads made it impossible for them to find Anne’s family in the mountains of Zumberak, but this past year Anne was happy to learn that her daughter made contact with her surviving Croatian family through DNA testing and social media. Her Croatian family was excited to learn of their American cousins who sent care packages to them after WWII. The connection was especially meaningful for Anne, who talked often in her final years about her mother’s home back in Jezernice.
The majority of her life was spent in Billings, where she cultivated a love for crafts in her grandchildren. She started a tradition of “Wednesdays with Grandma,” which included lunch, painting and special time together with her grandkids. She brought extended family together, too, organizing cousin sleepers whenever relatives came to visit. Her grandkids relished the board games, treats and, best of all, the stories Grandma Anne would tell them.
Her grandkids adored her. As they raced through various activities, she kept up with them. Anne loved watching her grandkids compete in sports, watching a seemingly endless amount of golf, baseball, football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, cross country and track and field. Grandma was always there to cheer them on and took such an interest she knew a lot of their teammates by name. With Grandma’s support, each grandchild felt incredibly special in any endeavor.
She will be remembered for her great kindness, warm smile, love of others and her fabulous scarf collection that accentuated her defining smile just a tad more.
Anne was preceded in death by her parents George and Ella (Sajatovic) Badovinatz; her brothers Nick, John and George; her sisters Mary Badovinatz Stolz and Rose Badovinatz; her husband Jerry Kosovich; her infant son Steven Kosovich; her grandson Kevin Kosovich; and her great grandson Lachlan Browne.
She is survived by her sister Ruby Badovinatz Weisner (Ed) of Healdsburg, California; her children Craig (Glena) Kosovich of Seattle, Ken (Barbara) Kosovich of Billings, Jon (Jessica Karjala) Kosovich of Billings, Carol (Jay) Anderson of Helena; her grandchildren Erin (EJ) Kelley of Seattle, Cam (Kira) Kelley of Bend, Oregon, Matthew Kosovich of Missoula, Courtney (Jonathan Ball) Kosovich of Billings, Caden Kosovich of Billings, Jarek Kosovich of Missoula, Bowen Kosovich of Billings, Ashley (Jason) Browne of Helena, Kirsten (Peter Hutchinson) Anderson of Bellingham, Washington, Erik (Lizzy Duffy) Anderson of Helena, Carlyn Anderson of Helena; and her great grandchildren Ethan and Emma Kelley of Seattle, Anna and Jensen Kelley of Bend, Oregon, and Fischer and Harlow Browne of Helena and numerous other well loved nephews and nieces.
“A smile is the shortest distance between people.” -- Victor Borge
Memorials may be made in Anne’s name to the following or the charity of your choice.
Alzheimer Association of Montana, 3010 11th Ave N, Billings, MT, 59601
Lachlan’s Legacy, PO Box 1125, Helena, MT, 59624
Anne’s family would like to thank the staff at The Springs at Grand Park and all “the Maria’s” for their compassionate and kind care to her over the last 4.5 years.