Today we invite you to join us in celebrating the life of Annabelle Faye Richards. Annabelle died on Friday, May 10, 2019. She was 85 years young. Annabelle enjoyed many accomplishments and successes through the years and was fortunate to have lived a very full and satisfying life
First and foremost, Annabelle would want you to remember her as a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She and her late husband, Ron, were high school sweethearts and enjoyed nearly 35 years of marriage before his untimely death in 1990. Together they raised three children -- Kent, Brent and Lisa. Among the many lessons she taught her children, Annabelle emphasized the importance of knowing right from wrong, respect for others, and the strength of a smile. While petite in stature, Annabelle was fiercely protective of her children as any good mother bear would be. Annabelle was also very proud of her four grandchildren -- Brandey, Griffin, Rachael and Jillian. She will forever be remembered by Griff and Rachael as “Pooka.”
Annabelle was born and raised in Missoula where she attended Missoula County High School. In 1964, the family planted their roots in Helena. Annabelle loved Helena and enjoyed everything it offers from the history of downtown to sporting events at Carroll College, the hustle and bustle of the Capitol during legislative sessions to the charm of its small-town atmosphere and everything in-between. She was particularly proud of the home she and Ron built on Highland which provided them with many opportunities through the years to host parties and other social gatherings. It would be remiss of us not to mention that, while Annabelle was a good Catholic and fan of the Fighting Saints, her loyalty to the Griz remained strong throughout her life. Go Griz!!
Together with Ron, Annabelle was quite involved in politics. She believed deeply in social justice, honesty, equal rights, equal opportunity, fiscal responsibility and the power of grassroots activism. She was a proud Democrat and believed that listening more than talking and considering all sides of an issue before taking a stand would yield the greatest results.
Annabelle’s only venture into public office was a brief term as a Helena City Commissioner, a position she was very proud to have held. For many years, Annabelle was a member of the Helena Kiwanis Club. She would often talk about how much she enjoyed the weekly meetings and the wonderful friendships that grew out of her involvement in Kiwanis.
Annabelle graduated from St. Patrick’s School of Nursing in Missoula and was a registered nurse. Throughout her life, she applied her training and the many lessons she learned as a nurse to careers in other health-related fields. During her time at the Montana Foundation for Medical Care, Annabelle managed the peer review program. She also wrote weekly newspaper columns that addressed health issues and, for a number of years, hosted the television show, “Vital Signs” which was televised state-wide. When she and Ron temporarily moved to Washington D.C. in the late 1980’s, Annabelle served on the Senate Select Committee on Aging, a committee chaired by the late Senator John Melcher.
From a very young age, Annabelle honed her artistic talent and, to this day, many friends and family members proudly display her charcoal portraits in their homes. She had a gift for finding that “special little something” in every portrait she sketched – a sparkle in the eye or a slight grin – that would bring to life the personality of the individual in the picture.
Later in life, Annabelle cherished most her deep and loving friendships with so many wonderful people – you know who you are. These friends offered Annabelle unique life experiences, companionship, joy, and purpose. It goes without saying that her life would not have been nearly as rich without you.
So today, while we mourn the loss of one of Helena’s finest residents, we hope you will take a moment to remember Annabelle in your own, unique way.
Annabelle is preceded in death by her husband, Ron, her sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Edward (Kuke) Kukay of Butte and niece Kathy (Kukay) McCarthy. She is survived by her sons, Kent Richards (Linda Lee), Brent Richards, daughter Lisa Wallace (Ron Wallace), grandchildren Brandey Davenport (Ken Davenport), Griffin Rusk (Krista Rusk), Rachael Rusk (fiancé Andrew Moore), Jillian Richards, nephews Paul Kukay of Libby, Mike Kukay of Butte and niece Patty (Kukay) Kluksdahl of Woodland Park, CO. The family extends a special thanks to Sidney Armstrong whose friendship and support have remained steadfast for many, many years.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at Saint Mary Catholic Community, 1700 Missoula Avenue, Helena with a funeral reception following in the lower level of the church. Following the reception, Rite of Committal will be held at Resurrection Cemetery, 3750 N. Montana Ave. in Helena. In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Annabelle are suggested to Lewis & Clark Humane Society, P.O. Box 4455, Helena, MT 59604 or to Hospice of St. Peter’s Health, c/o St. Peter’s Health, 2475 Broadway, Helena, MT 59601. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Annabelle.