April 6, 1948 – December 25, 2021
On December 25, 2021, Our Mum, Beloved Wife, Sister, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Aunt, Friend, Matriarch of our Family, Patsy Lee Oberweiser, became our Christmas Angel, as she passed from this life, surrounded by her loved ones, welcomed at home by her mother, her brothers, her sister and her daughter Carolina.
Patsy was born on April 6, 1948 in Yakima, Washington. Soon after, she moved to Montana. She spent her early years at Superior and Helena. Part of a large family and one of the youngest, Patsy was a very young babysitter. She was often left in the care of many cousins, nieces or nephews, most of them barely younger than her.
Patsy was married to Dick Rutherford (1966-1970) and had three children, Carolina, Richard and James. Dick was in the military, which led Patsy to live in Alaska and North Carolina. His time in Alaska contributed to his lifelong love of fishing. Patsy has always considered Montana her home and has returned home for good after breaking up with Dick.
Patsy had her work cut out for her as a single mother supporting her 3 children. She has worked hard in various jobs as well as being a loving guide to her children. They were poor but happy, as his son Richard said “We never had a bad Christmas”.
In 1974, Patsy met John LaPiere, aka “Big John”. John quickly became a father figure and mentor to his 3 children. In 1975, they welcomed Jonelle LaPiere to the world. When they were not working, they spent their time camping and fishing. Avalanche Gulch and Blackfoot River have become their “summer homes”. Although Patsy and John never married, they remained close friends and parental partners until John passed away in 2000.
Patsy married Jack Oberweiser in 1986, shocking most of his friends and family who never thought he would find a wife. Their court was a whirlwind, from the first date (horse racing in Missoula) to the wedding day, in less than a year. Their wedding was a big celebration with four children, several grandchildren and a family. They spent their honeymoon in Glacier National Park and, in a 35-year marriage, only missed their annual pilgrimage to the park 3 times. In the fall of 86, Patsy enrolled in Carroll College to earn a degree in social work. She had not been in a formal school setting for over 20 years. She completed her studies in exactly 8 semesters, listing the dean in each of them. A well-meaning friend once asked her why she wanted to go to school at an older age and pointed out that Patsy would be 40 when she graduated. “Well,” Patsy replied. “I’ll be 40 anyway. I might as well have a degree.”
In her final year at Carroll, she interned with Child and Family Services. Her solution to helping many neglected or abused children she worked with was to bring them home. Having raised children all her life, she had no problem adding a few to the tribe. So began several years of foster care for her and Jack. The day before she graduated from college, she received a call about a child in need. Could she accommodate a little boy just for one night? She did, and a year later adopted her sister. Then they were officially adopted two years later. Patsy and Jack added Tony and Sireena to the clan. Patsy was mothering another generation again, with school and sports activities. There have been many trips made across the state to attend baseball tournaments, swimming competitions, gymnastics events for the youngest and older grandchildren (it’s complicated).
Soon after, Patsy went to work for the Ministry of Children and Family Services. Her official title was Visiting Specialist, and over the next 10 years she worked tirelessly to help families in crisis reunite with their children, helping foster parents understand the importance of supporting birth parents to find their way home. reunification objective. She has transported children on icy roads, mountain passes, rural dirt roads, all for the benefit of the children. Hundreds of families have been blessed by his soothing and heartwarming presence. Many of these children as adults looked at her to thank her for her love and kindness.
Around this time, she also became an expert witness of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requiring her to testify in all out-of-home placements of Indigenous children by the state. Several local judges knew his name and face instantly due to the frequency of his testimony. They all respected and admired her.
Upon retiring in 2010, Patsy tried to relax, returning to her love of painting, crafts, camping and fishing. She and Jack made numerous road trips to Glacier, Yellowstone, Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and Banff, Alberta. She achieved these goals while accompanying 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren on their own missions. Summers in the backyard were filled with kids playing sports, hopscotch, swimming, swings and slides, jumping on trampolines, painting, helping with flowers, all under his watchful eye. . Each child felt a special relationship, and they were all equally loved and supported.
Patsy was predeceased by her mother, Esther Baker, her brothers Clayton, Putzie, Buddy and Matt, her sister Esther, Jonelle’s father, John LaPiere, and daughter Carolina.
She is survived by her husband Jack, her children Rick (Karin) Rutherford, Jim (Stephanie) Rutherford, Jonelle LaPiere, Tony Oberweiser, Sireena Neupauer, her grandchildren Jonathan, Bobbi Jo, Treg, Jessica, Angela, Katelinn, Isabella , Austin, Ashley, Graver, Emily, Michael, Kennedy, Jackson, Sage, Aubrey; great-grandchildren, Barrett, Zayden, Dante, Donevin, DaKai, Lakota, Lillian, Declan, Braxton, Easton, Maddie and Olivia; sisters Bev Elledge, Pattie Purcell and Carol Simmons; and many nieces and nephews.
The viewing will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, January 3 at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4 at the funeral home. A reception will follow the service in the social room of the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations from St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, MT. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer your condolences to the family, share a memory of Patsy and live stream her service on Tuesday.
Posted by Helena Independent Record from December 28, 2021 to January 3, 2022.