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Leslie Berge

Leslie Janet’ Berge (Chani Shc! Wiya/) was born on Dec. 5, 1946, to George and Barbara (Holtberg) Berge. Leslie passed into the spirit world peacefully surrounded by loved ones on Jan. 13, 2024, at the age of 77 in Artesia, N.M.

Leslie spent her childhood in Frazer, Mont., surrounded by a large and loving extended family. She had a very active life with church choir, music lessons, 4-H and working at the family grocery store, Berge’s Pay N’ Save. Leslie helped care for her younger sisters whom she affectionately called “the little girls.”

Music became a cornerstone of her life, a love she passed onto her daughters. Sadly, each only got half her talent. One can sing and the other can dance. Leslie was also an accomplished saxophone player and pianist.

When not at the family home, Leslie spent her early years at the grocery store and with her Grandma Nola. History has it that all the Berge children slept in a cardboard box in a window ledge at the front of the store.

As a young child, Leslie developed the gift of listening. She heard generously offered oral histories of stories from older Native Americans and homesteaders about the joys and hardships of life on the prairie. This is a passion that would continue throughout her life.

During her adolescence, her calling at the grocery store was stocking shelves and cutting meat. Leslie became an accomplished meat cutter carrying 125- to 140-pound quarters to the meat block. Leslie would often recall Candy (store PR division) calling out, “Leslie, I need 100 pounds of potatoes,” which served her well as later in life she became a carpenter who could lift a sheet of sheet rock, tape and mud it in record time. She also spent several years as a head cook/manager in commercial kitchens. Leslie and her only brother, Steven, had a forever bond. Hours were spent playing card games of Authors and Whist. Their imaginary friends, Mr. and Mrs. Doogala, never won a game. They spent countless hours listening to their 78 speed records.

Henry Hawk, Bozo the Clown, The Lone Ranger and Sargent Preston of the Yukon

were just some of their favorites. With the arrival of TV in 1957, evenings and weekends were occupied with the Fay Crush Talent Show, Highway Patrol and Seahunt. Numerous friends would join in for popcorn, fudge and boxed pizza. Leslie’s favorite was Jungle Jim or Miss Marple.

Leslie married JT Brownlee on Aug. 26, 1967, and started her own family in Wolf Point, Mont. Xan gave her mom a tough time, but made her way into the world on June 12, 1968. Sasha followed two and half years later. Unlike her sister, she was impatient to become the third musketeer and arrived a month early on Oct. 27, 1970. Although her marriage ended after 15 years, they would remain a family for the rest of her life with her two daughters, Billie, and bonus daughter, Micha.

Leslie was an unconventional mother to say the least. She had a strict side and a fun loving side. Her daughters were not allowed Barbies because they gave a negative self-image, but she was generous with crafting supplies, books and anything she deemed educational. She had a strict “no sugar” rule and everything was homemade — nothing from the can. They could be found driving off for summer fun in Missoula, to the badlands to hunt for rocks or to Wolf Creek for skinny dipping. Leslie was fiercely protective of her two daughters. She could be stern and strict, but it was all in love and her hopes to be like her Grandma Nola. Her stern nature soon melted with the birth of her beloved grandchildren

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