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Jerriann Hanel

Jerriann Hilma Hanel, 81, died at Highgate Senior Living in Billings on March 29, 2024.

She was born in Glasgow on Jan. 29, 1943, the fourth daughter of eight children to Frank and Alice Hanel. She was described by her siblings as “much like her dad”: kind, funny, sensitive, strongwilled, stubborn, fearless, determined and loved to be the center of attention. She also displayed a love of the Lord at an early age and continued this strong relationship with God until her death.

During her youth, she participated in band, synchronized swimming, art and ice skating, among others. She became known by some as the “farm girl” for her love of being outdoors and especially enjoyed gardening. She was also always looking to have a good time. An early example of is when she joined the carnival the summer after she graduated from high school, working in the ticket booth.

Her next brave adventure began when she moved to Minneapolis, Minn., to attend the College of Medical Technology and X-ray. She achieved that degree in March 1963. She also met, and later married, Dennis Williams. From that marriage, four children were born. They later divorced, and thus began her very busy next adventure as a single working mother attending nursing school in Miles City. She graduated with a nursing degree in 1977, about the same time she met John Obye. After they married, she moved to Baker, where her social life continued to thrive as she joined Toast Masters, community/ church choirs and a sorority group. She made friends easily and quickly became a beloved member of the Baker community.

In 1979, she added a new dimension of adventure to her life with the addition of her fifth child. While raising another child, she also continued her career working such jobs as hospital nurse, clinic nurse, public health nurse and she had a special passion for the individuals she served as a drug and alcohol counselor. Her most recent position, however, was perhaps the most impactful and brought her the most joy. She was the school nurse in Baker for 28 years. She touched the lives of hundreds of staff, students and their families providing care, encouragement, counseling and developing long-lasting friendships with colleagues and students alike.

In 2016, while living at her cherished home on Baker Lake, she fell while playing a solo game of darts. This incident became the beginning of a series of events leading her to transition to the assisted living care facilities in Billings

that she would reside in for the remaining eight years of her life.

The move to Billings was a tough adjustment for her and she always spoke of getting better and moving home. She never lost faith. Although the Parksinon’s tried in vain to slow her down, she would not be overcome.

Some of her favorite pastimes included spending time with family/friends, singing, kazoos, puzzles, Yahtzee, riding recumbent bike, canoeing, gardening, making homemade cards, children, ice cream and being in the company of handsome men. She also had a passion for kites and has been seen flying one out of the window of a moving vehicle, along the interstate next to a tour bus, and alongside her train during a station stop. She continued these and many more shenanigans at both Sweetwater Retirement Community and Highgate Senior Living.

She was preceded in death by her sister, JoAn Houg.

She is survived by sisters, Joyce Mann, Jeanie Bickle, Janny Parsley, Judy Lanterman and June Vogt; brother, Frank Hanel Jr.; children, John S. Williams, Dawn Benth, Jennifer (Paul) Bitts, Stacy Williams and Jana King; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. She also had a special relationship with John Obye’s four children, Erin, Brick, Bryce and Shawn.

A celebration of life was held April 3, at 2 p.m. at the Dahl Funeral Chapel in Billings. An additional celebration will take place this summer prior to the burial of her ashes in Wolf Point.

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