Kathleen Lee Young, 87, passed away Saturday July 14, 2018, in Polson, Montana.
She was born Dec. 21, 1930, in Miles City, Montana, to Paul and Rose (Ziegele) Speck. Kathleen and her sister Berniece were the youngest of seven children and raised in Miles City. Their mother Rose died when Kathleen was just 8 years old. Their father, Paul Speck, continued raising his two girls with pride...and later Paul was inducted into the Miles City Cowboy Hall of Fame in Montana with accolades for being a Range Rider. Paul retired to Western Montana and left Kathleen in the loving hands of Chuck and Metta Walters, longtime Custer County residents. She lived with them and completed her last two years of high school and graduated in 1948 from Custer County High School. After high school Kathleen moved to the Mission Valley where her father had retired, and also to be closer to her sister Ada (Bill) Gould who owned the Buffalo Trails Ranch on Round Butte Road in Ronan.
Kathleen lived in Ronan with Marge and Sandy Sandsmark and their daughter Doris. Doris and Kathleen moved to Polson where Kathleen worked at the old Polson Creamery. They rented an apartment at the Stancraft Boat Marina, where she was to meet her future husband Don Young, who lived in the apartment next door. She attended the University of Montana for a semester in 1951, and Don and Kathleen were married that same year on Christmas Eve in Ronan at the Lutheran Church building during a frigid Montana blizzard. The building’s furnace had stopped working. Everyone waited, cold and anxious, and eventually the furnace was fixed and the ceremony continued, but not without more complications. The preacher lost his vow book and had to wing it, as the bride walked down the isle and everyone stood while the organ played the back pew tipped over with a bang and startled everyone.
Mom’s best friend and maid of honor Doris Ruth (Sandsmark) Miller was by her side, and they have remained best friends to this day. Every year as Mom got older she would always say around Christmas time, “Why on Earth would anyone get married on Christmas Eve in Montana?” She loved yellow roses and we always made sure she got a dozen on their anniversary each year. Christmas Eve also became more special to her when she welcomed her fifth grandchild (Donald) into the world on Dec. 24 in 1991.
Don and Kathleen co-owned and operated the Stancraft Boat Company in the bay in Polson soon after they were married, and also began Flathead Lake Realty in 1952. After having three children while living in the lower part of the motel, they purchased the family home on Bayview Drive on Flathead Lake in the late ‘50s, where they had three more children. They owned and operated the Plaza Motel in downtown Polson for a time. They were instrumental in building the South Shore Inn in the sixties, and operated the business for a year or so before selling the restaurant to their niece Joyce Young Demers (Denny). They owned and operated Flathead Lake Realty until Don died in 1997, and their eldest son Scott took over the family business, which he owns and operates to this day.
Kathleen loved her family. She made sure all six of us had our choice of hot or cold breakfasts before school. She had hot cookies and milk waiting for us when we got off the bus. She indulged us with many pets...cats, dogs, rabbits and our beloved blue-eyed horse Navaho. She encouraged most of us to play a musical instrument in school and take piano lessons and also encouraged all of us to learn to ski at Big Mountain and without fail she managed to get us to that ski bus by 5:30 a.m. She had a brass bell that she rang outside at dinner time that we could hear from anywhere in the neighborhood. She made sure our holidays were magical.
Christmases were full of beautifully wrapped presents, wonderfully decorated Christmas trees, old-fashioned Christmas lights and ornaments, fresh fir bows lining our roof and the deck all lit up, beautifully set tables with fine linin tablecloths and china, the good silver and lemon sprig and lemon centerpieces, candles and the smells coming out of her kitchen meant the best food ever. She hand-knitted special Christmas stockings for each of us when were little, and on Christmas morning there was always little special treasures and an orange in each of them.
Summers were especially fun. Mom did a picnic barbecue each weekend all summer long at our Flathead Lake home. Hot dogs and hamburgers, marshmallows and once a week we had our choice of Craigmont sodas. Fabulous food, fun, sun, bikes, non-stop swimming, our sea-cycle, tote goat, pets and friends.
Kathleen was an avid gardener through the years, loved growing flowers, veggies, planting trees at our home, was a wonderful seamstress, loved knitting sweaters, blankets, winter hats and scarves for each of us, loved our pets, our friends pets, and all the friends we brought home every day. The neighborhood kids usually congregated at our home as she made it warm and inviting for all who entered...including the neighbor’s dogs. She was famous for her cooking. But we usually were not allowed in the kitchen to help. That was her thing. Wonderful soups and casseroles, meats and the salads that had to be served on ice cold plates...pastries, cookies and cakes. She loved reading cookbooks and trying new recipes. Cooking was her true joy and we were surely blessed to enjoy it for so many years.
She was diagnosed legally blind in her sixties. She remembered the day she knew something was wrong with her vision. She went to pick up her grandson Adam from school. When they arrived safely home she knew she couldn’t drive anymore. She without hesitation gave up her driving...and thus her independence. Now relying on others for daily living. She was diagnosed shortly after with macular dystrophy. Her vision loss changed her life immensely. The Talking Book Library out of Helena was a great source of comfort for her as she was able to remain an avid book reader up until the last few weeks of her life. She continued to cook and make wonderful meals for friends and family even though visually impaired. She finally, after all those years, would let us help her in her kitchen. Where we once weren’t allowed in her sacred cooking grounds...as she got older she welcomed our service. She no longer had her own pets but welcomed all of our pets into her home. Rebel, Caesar, The Zelda... Jonathan’s Chihuahua who wouldn’t let anyone near mom, and Cleo, our shy but loving therapy cat that formed a unique special bond with her. Kathleen was a natural caregiver. She took care of her father and mother-in-law on the family property in their elder years while raising six children. Later in life she cared for her sisters and brother and their spouses and regularly cooked for people in need, including neighbors in need of food and companionship. When her infant twin grandchildren contracted infant botulism and both became paralyzed in 2000...she made sure we had a hot-cooked meal in our home every day for almost two years. Many times she would just come to our house and just hold and rock the babies. Her constant care, love and support was crucial to their complete recovery. She fiercely loved her family, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, her friends and her fur babies.
Kathleen was preceded in death by her parents, Rose and Paul Speck; her brothers, infant James Lee Speck, Vernon Earl (Inez) Speck, Paul Walter Speck (Gladys Malstrom); sisters, Pauline Laura Speck, Ada Gould (Bill) and Bernice Louise Freschet (Ferucio); niece, Dinah Freschet Hair; son-in-law, Donald Muccigrosso; and her husband of 46 years, Donald illiam Young.
She is survived by her children, Suzanne Young of San Diego and Lakeside, Montana; Sandra Young Archembault (Frank) of Harlem, Montana, Scott Young (Lori Schrader Young) of Polson, Stacy Young of Portland, Oregon, Stephen Young of Polson, and Sheila Young Peterson (Rick) of Polson; grandchildren, Jessica Gasking of Wellington, New Zealand, Adam (Evilina) Young of Los Angeles, California, Michael Young of Los Angeles, Richard Peterson (Laura Gardner) of Polson, Donald Peterson (Amber Whitcomb) of Polson, Jonathan Peterson (Shayla Simpson) of Polson, JosieAnna Peterson of Polson and Autumn Young of Portland; great-grandchildren, Phoenix Gasking of Wellington, and Eveylyn (Evie) Peterson of Montana; and lastly, her beloved sister Berniece’s children, Leslie, Gina, Maria and Frank all of whom she loved dearly.
A memorial gathering in honor of Kathleen is pending. The Lake Funeral Home is handling the arrangements for Kathleen’s family. Memories and condolences may be sent to the family at www.thelakefuneralhomeandcrematory.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.