Myrth J. Strainer, 86, passed away in Helena on December 21, 2017, with her family by her side. She was born July 12, 1931, in Helena, to W. Rodger Cox, Jr. and Eulah M. (Moore) Cox. Her early years were spent alongside her mother and brother homesteading her mother’s land north of Lincoln in Blackfoot, Montana. After homesteading, they resided in Helena on South Howie Street until the 1935 earthquake destroyed their apartment. The family relocated to East Helena and eventually built a home on an acre of land on Thurman Street.
Myrth loved playing baseball; she was considered a tomboy. In the late 1940’s she played fast-pitch softball with the Cottage Team, and later joined the older girls playing for the CIO and Smelter teams. She also enjoyed ice skating and taught her children how to skate. One summer she worked on Senator Jeannette Rankin’s campaign, she said it was a fascinating experience. She also worked briefly at Woolworth’s and the Telephone Company.
In 1949 Myrth graduated from Helena High and met Ed Strainer, the love of her life; they married on February 23, 1951. From this union, they had four children, Anthony, Cheryl, Connie, and Crystal. In 1957, Myrth served as president of the East Helena Cory-Dullum VFW Post 10010 Ladies' Auxiliary and Ed was Post Commander. The family moved to Great Falls in 1962 because of Ed’s job.
Mom was an avid seamstress and custom made a majority of our stylish teenage apparel. She also made dolls, beadwork, ceramics, crocheted, and played the piano. She was the best cook and baker; she taught us how to make potica the Slavic way, and to this day her daughter Connie still makes them. Myrth babysat to earn extra spending money and was a Girl Scout leader while her girls were growing up.
After her husband’s death in 1984, she returned to Helena to be closer to her children. She worked several years in the lunch programs at Warren and Radley Schools.
Mom loved going to her grandchildren's sporting events and music concerts. She spent countless hours playing "Go Fish" and other games with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Crossword puzzles were no match for her. Yosemite Sam and Pink Panther memorabilia adorned her home, and when it came to football, she was a die-hard Bronco fan. Country Western music was her favorite.
Myrth was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ed, brother Rodger Cox III and his wife, Lucia, and her dear friend Garnet Dietrich. She is survived by her children, Anthony (Jean) Strainer of East Helena, Cheryl Stallcup of Tuscon, Arizona, Connie (Tom) Fairbairn of Helena, and Crystal (Jerry) Gray of Helena. Grandchildren Adam (Amy) Strainer, Michael (Amy) Strainer, Tyler Strainer, Brenda (AJ) Deshner, Michella Stallcup (Jeremy Markley), Christina Hinman, Jennifer Fairbairn, Edward (Amanda) Fairbairn, Lena (Carl) Stangland, Tanamari (Chad) Greenfield, fourteen great-grandchildren, brother-in-law Robert (Sharon) Strainer, sister-in-law Betty Herder, and numerous nieces and nephews.
She made many friends at The Legacy; reminiscing and playing bingo. As fate would have it, her Legacy neighbor Jewel Hurley was a former Helena area fast-pitch softball player as well; together their friendship hit a home run.
Special thanks to the wonderful staff at The Legacy and Hospice for their kindness and support.
Shortly after Myrth’s passing, her beloved Scotty dog “McDuffy” followed her home.
A memorial reception honoring Mom’s life will be held January 5th at 2:00 pm, at The Legacy, 624 Ptarmigan Lane, Helena. A private burial will take place at a later date.
Memorial donations may be made to the organization of choice or to the VFW Ladies’ Aux. Post 10010, PO Box 86, East Helena MT 59635. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Myrth.