Fern Dallas Leischner was born Aug. 6, 1931, in Plevna, Mont., to William and Hulda Leischner. She died Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019.
Mom was the youngest of six children: Edna, Oliver, Leonard, Ray and Jean. Her mother died soon after Fern’s birth, and she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, Mollie and Steve Hager, who raised her on their farm in Plevna and later in Billings.
Her father later remarried and had four more children: Mary Lu, Bill, Keith and Marlene.
On Sept. 10, 1950, Mom married Bert P. McLaughlin in Billings, and raised seven children at their home on Lewis Avenue.
During our growing up years, Mom spent many, many hours at the stove, cooking for her growing family and all the friends they brought along. Ours was the house where all the kids played.
She was a stay-at-home mom until the last two kids — twins (Patty and Mike) — were born. The reality of having seven kids forced her to get a “real” job as a secretary at Colburn School Supply, where she worked until retirement.
Mom was a wonderful cook and always made room at the holiday table for last minute guests. She loved dancing, the Lawrence Welk show, the velvet voice of Jim Reeves, and — chewing her ever-present toothpick — she could shoot a mean game of pool. She was quick to laugh and, though German by blood, adopted dad’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday as her own.
While dad worked nights at the Billings Gazette, mom was tasked with getting the kids to bed. The threat of “Wait till your dad gets home” was a tool she frequently used to silence the bunch. Warm water with baking soda was a cure-all for stomach aches and various other ailments. Our dad Bert died in 1979.
Fern married Melvin Strauch on Sept. 6, 1985, and they moved to what was then the West End. They loved to go dancing, and together Mom and Mel enjoyed many years of camping and fishing with their travel trailer and boat, and looked forward every year to the trip to Fort Peck with the gang.
Fern was preceded in death by her daughter Laurie Huffman. She is survived by her husband, Mel, and her children, Ann (John) Steffens; Vikki (Gerard) O’Brien; Dan; Steve Huffman; Susan (Randy) Mackey; Patty (Kevin) Huppert; Mike (John) Haugen; Doug (Wendy) Strauch; and Terri Steinbrink. Her sister Marlene (Mike) Fisher, and brother Bill Leischner. Her grandchildren are Molly O’Brien, Jill (Aaron) Nelson, Patrick McLaughlin, Zachary (Rosie) Huffman, Kevin Huffman, Nicole (Derek) Lauwers, Stephanie (Sean) McNamara, Brandy (Daniel) Mustoe, Caley Mullenberg and Cody (Shannon) Shearin, Claire Haugen, Kristi (Allen) Schoessler, Kelly (Bret) Strauch, Trenton Steinbrink; and 8 great-grandchildren.
Fern’s family would like to thank the nurses who treated her with such kindness in the CVU at the Billings Clinic: Dorinda, Leslie, Angela, Jennifer and especially Shellie and Shelby. And Dr. Laurent Palmatier, Dr. William Greene, and Dr. Jason Kuntz, who said a final blessing for mom.
A service will be held Thursday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m. at Cremation and Funeral Gallery, 29 8th St. West, with a reception following at the Huppert home, 4188 Laredo Place, Billings 59106, 406-855-6052.