Grace “Gracie” McCullough passed away Monday, February 11, 2019. Grace was born March 17, 1921 in Missoula, Montana. Grace was the second of four children born to Henry and Jenny (O’Neill) Anders. She came from immigrant pioneer families (German, Sweden and Ireland) who settled in the Helena area in the 1800’s.
She and her older brother Henry “Buddy” Anders grew up in Helena, Montana and were in the newly built high school for two months when the 1935 earthquake struck. As a result, they went to school for two years in railroad coaches.
Grace met Vern McCullough her senior year of high school and they were married after her graduation on September 9, 1939. Their two sons, Bob and Rick, were born in the early forties. When Grace’s mother died, she and Vern had her father Henry’s family move in with them and helped raise her younger brother Jerry and sister Donna. Because Donna was so young, Grace “Sis” became more like a mother to her than a sister and a very close relationship evolved.
Grace worked for the Bell Telephone Company the year she graduated, then became a full-time caregiver to her family, her father’s family and extended family. Having many of her older aunts and uncles to care for as the years progressed, and then grandchildren and great grandchildren, her home and heart were filled with love. She spent her life caring for and giving to others, a selfless, wonderful woman.
During WWII, Grace and Vern lived in Pasco, Washington and Jeffersonville, Indiana. In 1946, they moved to Great Falls, Montana (with their “family” of seven) where Vern was a salesman for Montana Powder and Equipment Company. In Great Falls, Mrs. McCullough was active in the PTA, the Presbyterian Church and Woman’s Circle. She was a Brownie and Cub Scout leader and belonged to the Degree of Honor.
In 1951, they returned to Helena where Vern was sales manager and then vice president of the Montana Powder and Equipment Company. They were still a family of seven and lived at 1007 Choteau. In Helena, Grace was a Bluebird leader and a Cub Scout leader. She belonged to the Naomi Circle at the church and was with the organizing group of League of Women Voters. Two of her special memories were sitting across the table from Eleanor Roosevelt when she visited their league and also meeting Jeanette Rankin, the first woman senator from Montana.
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Grace lost her younger son, Rick to cancer in 1988. This was a very hard time in her life. Her son Bob played football for the Colorado Buffaloes at University of Colorado and also played professional football with the Denver Broncos. He retired as vice president of Dean Witter Reynolds and made his mother quite happy when he and Judi returned to live in Helena, in 2009.
In 1994, Grace and Vern sold their house and bought a condo on Saddle Drive in Helena. Her beloved Vern preceded her in death in 2004.
Grace is survived by her son, Bob McCullough and his wife, Judi; her brother, Jerry Anders and wife Joan, and sister, Donna Hodgson and husband Rod. She is also survived by her grandson Burke McCullough, great grandsons, Tanner and B.J. McCullough, daughter-in-law Loreto McCullough, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
We would like to acknowledge the wonderful treatment provided by the folks at Son Heaven. We want to especially single out Hazel Noonen and Leah Betcher, and all of those who made Mom’s last days more comfortable.
A memorial service celebrating Grace’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 25th at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. A reception will follow the service in the social hall of the funeral home. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or share a memory of Gracie.