Bernice Van Setten Wilt, 90, a life-long Choteau resident, left us the evening of June 4, 2020. She and her twin sister, Helen, were born in Choteau to Mary E. Malone and Henry W. Smith on October 19, 1929. They joined one brother and three half-brothers. Bernice grew up on the family farm a few miles south of Agawam where she attended country elementary school. Later, she attended Teton County High School in Choteau and graduated at the age of 16.
After high school, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State College in Bozeman at age 20. Upon graduation, she returned to Choteau where she helped her brother, Henry, in the family farming operation. During this time, she met the love of her life, Henry Van Setten at a local dance, and they were married on her birthday in 1951. Hank and Bernice owned a small ranch north of Choteau on Spring Creek and worked the ranch together. It was not unusual for Bernice to be found in a grain truck or on a tractor during harvest. One of her greatest talents was her ability to cook. She would take meals to the field or feed small armies of workers during the busy times. Following the 1964 flood, she spent the summer feeding her extended family while they rebuilt.
Bernice and Hank spent 19 happy years together. Following the death of Hank in 1972, she raised their three young children alone. Throughout her life, family was her focus, and Bernice took delight in following her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in all their activities. She always involved their friends and was considered Gramma to those kids as well. She took pride in her kids’ and grandkids’ accomplishments and never missed their concerts or sporting events.
She was active in her Church and numerous civic organizations. She could regularly be found organizing a community event, building a float, or raising funds to benefit Choteau. She was an avid traveler and took pride in the fact that she had seen all but two states.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry Van Setten, brothers, Henry Smith, Alexander Truchot, Howard Truchot, and Francis Truchot.
She is survived by sister, Helen McIntyre of Boise, ID, her children, Jean (Dave) Radke of Fergus Falls, MN, Keith (Dina) Van Setten of Choteau, MT, Kathy (Scott) Marsh of Goshen, OH, six grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A private family service will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Choteau Senior Center, the United Methodist Church, or Choteau Lions Club Pool.
Condolences may be left on-line at www.gorderjensenfuneralhome.com
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