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Johanna Pugh

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 9:32 pm

Johanna (Jo) Pugh passed away in her sleep at the Lowthian Hospice Care Center near the home of her daughter Betty Wiese on Jan. 27, 2012, at age 94.

She was born Johanna Marie Kray on a homestead in eastern Montana on July 12, 1917, to Dutch immigrant parents, the only daughter after three sons. Her parents began homesteading in 1915 on Sarpy Creek near McRae, Montana (about 30 miles from Hardin). Johanna attended the Iron Springs country school. The family moved to a dairy near Hardin in 1924 when she was in elementary school; Johanna took piano lessons and was an avid reader – sometimes trying to do both at the same time!

After she graduated from Hardin High School in 1934, her mother, who always said she would make a lady out of Johanna, sent her to St. Mary’s College in Xavier, Kans. where she majored in music.

She took her first teaching position in Polson in 1938 where she taught elementary and high school music and high school English. For at least one summer she worked on a dude ranch – we don’t know how her mother felt about that! She met, and in 1943 married, fellow teacher Dave Pugh.

Johanna was organist and music director for the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson – playing for Sunday masses and most weddings and funerals for many years. She also taught private piano lessons to generations of Mission Valley budding pianists and was accompanist for many high school band soloists and local musical groups over the years. The Polson High School Band honored her as “Polson’s Mrs. Music” in 1966. She was active in the Polson Library and AAUW. She was a hiker and walker and took two pack trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness when she was nearly 60 years old.

After retirement from a second career in public school music education and then widowhood, Johanna continued to engage actively in life and learning, including travel within the U.S. and abroad – often with Elderhostel (for example, Costa Rica, Nepal, Egypt). She moved to Missoula in 1994, to Eugene, Ore. in 2001, and to Bainbridge Island, Wash. in 2011.

Johanna was preceded in death by her husband Dave Pugh and son David Pugh. She is survived by her daughter Mary Jo Pugh and her children Katie and Christopher McCort; daughter Betty Wiese and her son Damian; son Tom Pugh and his wife Julia Rush; son Brian; daughter Virginia Kelly (Ginger), her husband Mike Kelly, and their sons Ben and Joe; and nephews Don and Bob Kray and niece Bonnie Norell.

Services will be held at a later date in Polson. Messages of condolences may be shared with the family online at www.groganfuneralhome.com

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