Rosemary Lilian McRae, age 85, passed away on Saturday January 11, 2020, at her home in Billings, MT. She was born March 30, 1943 in Livingston, MT, to Elmer and Dorothy (Newman) Christensen. Rosemary grew up on her family’s dude ranch, the 63 Ranch, near Livingston where she learned to ride, cowboy, and appreciate the beauty of the Montana mountains. Years later, the family resided in Billings, where Rosemary graduated from Billings Senior High School, class of 1951.
A few short years later, Rosemary met the love of her life, John David McRae and they married on New Year’s Eve, 1953 in the parlor of First Congregational Church. After a brief honeymoon in the Jackson Hole area, the couple settled in Billings where Rosemary was employed by Midland Empire Title Company. Some years later, the couple owned and operated a successful road and bridge construction company in which Rosemary was the office manager, executing payroll and keeping meticulous books. Years later, after the construction business was sold, Rosemary took employment at her dearest friend Bert’s family business, O’Donnell Fire Services, until early retirement.
Rosemary and John were blessed with three energetic boys, William “Bill”, John Douglas “Doug”, and Donald “Donny”. Rosemary was a devoted mother, spending all her spare time taking her boys to judo practices and meets. They spent many summers camping and fishing on the Missouri Breaks where “Mother”, as John affectionately called her, was known to out fish them all. When her sons later took an interest in rough stock rodeo, Rosemary would accompany them on the high school rodeo circuit, waiting on the sidelines as her beloved boys climbed upon rank broncs and bulls. In 1971, Rosemary and John purchased 10 acres and a house in between Billings and Laurel. They loved the view of the rimrocks from their picture window and the space the home provided for their family. It was a peaceful place where Rosemary could garden, can, plant trees and enjoy her sons’ adventures, such as chasing fireflies along the irrigation ditches or playing cowboys and Indians in the backyard fort.
Rosemary and John were both members of the American Quarter Horse Association. When their boys were grown and busy with their own lives, Rosemary and John occupied their time racing quarter horses. They traveled most weekends to different race tracks to watch the superior equine bloodlines they created adorn countless winner circles.
Rosemary treasured her grandchildren. She was known to drop everything and make their favorite meals, teach them to sew, swim in the backyard pool, make hula skirts from the weeping willow tree in her front yard, or tell ghost stories by the fireplace. She was the family historian. She could recite tales from years past, like her father’s voyage from Denmark to America, or her mother’s adoption by the Newman family. Rosemary adored her mother. The pair traveled the country together quite often. Stopping at roadside stands to purchase Navajo rugs and turquoise jewelry was the high point of many of their trips.
Rosemary was an amazing cook, passing extraordinary recipes on to her daughters-in-law and granddaughters. Some of the family favorites include fiesta burgers, spicy chicken, caramel rolls, red velvet cake, homemade caramels, and stewed strawberries with homemade biscuits. And artist in her own right, she was often drawing pictures or creating works of art in the form of knitted or crocheted blankets and sweaters. She was a marvelous seamstress, sewing clothing and doll clothes as gifts for her grandchildren, up until the pain of arthritis was too much was too much to bear. Rosemary was a hands-on great grandma, often babysitting her great grandchildren or traveling to Wyoming to watch her two eldest great granddaughters compete in sports or show their livestock and the local county fair. There was nothing Rosemary wouldn’t do for her family. She was kind and thoughtful. She never turned her back on a stray animal, including the raccoon that later became a family pet. She loved the dogs she owned over the years like children. She was witty and sharp minded until the end. For these qualities and many more, she will be missed by her family and friends.
Rosemary is survived by her three sons: Bill (Wendy) McRae of Billings, Doug (Tammy) of Wright, WY, Donny (Barb) McRae of Billings; grandchildren: Heather (Justin) Edwards, Shannon (Russ) Debie, Tara (Benji) Milner, Larissa (Michael) Ameline, Dustin McRae, Alyssa (Shawn) Weber, and Kaitlyn (Mat Stewart) McRae; great grandchildren: Kodi Edwards, Jozi Edwards, Layla Milner, Reo Edwards, Channing McRae-Knudson, Adalyn Milner, Lailie Stewart, Chezlyn McRae-Baumeister, Madden Stewart, and Holdyn Weber; brother Roger Christensen; brother-in-law William McRae; and Dearest Cousin Sandra Christensen.
She was preceded in death by her husband, John; her parents; and sisters-in-law Betty Wuckerpfinning and Mary McRae.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00P.M. Saturday July 18, 2020 at Cremation & Funeral Gallery.