ESTHER PIATZ

…And just like that, the world got dimmer and heaven got brighter…

On May 6, 2020, after 91 years, the heart that she had used to enrich the lives of so many others, finally needed rest.

Mom was born on August 29, 1928 to Gustav and Mary (Winter) Hannemann in Harvey, North Dakota. She told us she was the only one in the family to be born in a hospital because, “Ma couldn’t make it back to the farm.”

She married Wendelin Piatz on October 27, 1947. They spent their life together in Harvey and Bismarck, ND and in 1968 moved to Missoula, MT because Dad loved the beauty of the mountains.

Together they had four children but, tragically, in 1971 cancer took Dad’s life and Mom was left with the daunting task of raising their young children between the ages of four and fifteen on her own. With courage, strength, and grace, she rose to that challenge and set an amazing example for her children.

Mom touched so many lives. She found good in everyone and loved unconditionally without judgement. She listened, offered sound advice, and constantly supported us all. Mom was like a second mother and grandmother to many of our friends growing up. And, of course, she had an amazing sense of humor. She loved a good joke, told lots of great stories, and we never really knew what to expect next. She truly felt laughter and smiles were good medicine and we will especially miss hers.

Family meals were always a treat and we couldn’t have one without a bit of sausage thrown in because of her German heritage. We will always have fond memories about Mom being a “good cooker”! And she always sent her kids home with a care package of food and a handshake to slip us a few bucks.

She enjoyed going for rides to explore the countryside, dining at her favorite Mexican restaurant, puzzles, word games, and watching her team, the Seattle Mariners, but her favorite hobby was her family. She devoted her entire life to her family and her greatest joy came from her grandchildren. She loved them all and they felt it. We were blessed to have been touched by that love.

Mom was preceded in death by her husband, Wendelin Piatz; her parents Gustav and Mary Hannemann; and her siblings, Lorraine, Erna, Albertina, Gertrude, Alma, Edward, Josephine, Ruth, Evelyn, and Elmer.

She is survived by her brother, Alvin (Nancy) Hannemann of Cheney, WA; her loving children, Stan (Kathy), Wanda (Dave) Donaldson, Steve, and Sharon (John) Thomas; her devoted grandchildren who will forever remember their gentle Grandma Esther, Michael and David, Eric, Kate and Andrew, Kortni, Kory, Kassy, Kelsey, Kaley, and Deya and Caili; great-grandchildren, Hannah, Cole, Ryker, Kynsie, Jaydon, Ivy, Kai, Ava, Liam, Cheyanne, Miley, and Shaylee; and many nieces and nephews.

It’s hard to find the words to thank everyone who helped Mom. She loved her doctor, Dr. Dan Mitchell, and his nurse, Jennifer. Everyone at the Wound Center, to the kindhearted health care team that managed her care, she used to say, “There are so many of them and they are all so nice!” To the staff of Belgrade Town & Country Grocery that brightened her day, to Meals on Wheels, dear Kathryn and all her neighbors who helped her on a daily basis – you helped us as well and made it possible for her to stay in her little apartment in Belgrade, MT. It was where she wanted to be… we couldn’t thank you more!

Mom liked things just so and didn’t want a fuss, so there will be no formal services. Just remember her in your heart. She never did remarry; Dad was her one true love. She will be blessed and then buried in Missoula with him, so this summer we will gather there to celebrate her life and their reunion. How awesome will that be!

We should all live life like her. Well done, Mom, well done!

Memorials may be made in Mom’s honor to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, P.O. Box 1129, Bozeman, MT 59771.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dokkennelson.com.