Bette Bohlinger died on Monday, January 9, 2006 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena. She was 70.
Bette was born June 23, 1935 in Forsyth, Montana, to Joe and Hazel Cobetto. Her family moved to Billings when she was young, and her father established a neighborhood grocery store there. Bette enrolled in Fratt School. She graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School in 1953. She attended Eastern Montana College, and eventually earned her PhD in Life.
Bette and her four children married John Bohlinger in 1963. The Bohlingers were blessed with two more sons in 1964. They made their home in Billings until John was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2004. With Bette as Second Lady of the State, they made their new home in Helena.
Bette loved her family. She is survived by her husband Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger; her children, Jeanne Cox (Bruce Baty of Missoula), Jan Aileen Osborne (Douglas of Billings), Mark Joseph Bohlinger (Teri of Cheyenne), JoLynn Sommers (Chuck of Billings), Nicholas Bohlinger (Kamala of Gig Harbor, Washington) and John Bohlinger(Sherrie of Nashville); 14 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild and her dog Sophie. She valued these relationships above all and was teaching, mentoring, encouraging, guiding, and leading by example right up to the time of her death. Her abilities as a mother and wife were strengthened and framed by her very strong faith.
When the kids started school, Bette went to work for the family business, Aileen’s, where Bette was the fashion director and inspiration for the successful clothing store. The store was a favorite outlet for her creativity, along with her gardening, gourmet meals, works in stained glass, watercolor, ceramics and writing. She got great joy out of making her home lovely and caring for all those who entered it. She also loved to travel and keeping up with her husband was not always easy. Among her favorite spots were Big Sky, anywhere in Italy, the Provence region of France, and Manzanillo, Mexico. Wherever they traveled, it was their “favorite spot” and she met many a life long friends along the way.
Bette also had a love for all music, including the Billings Symphony, any honky tonk bar band, and the music she played for herself on the piano. She also love Montana and experienced it through skiing, fishing, hiking and backpacking..
Bette was active in the Billings community. She was a member of Junior League, PEO and the HOST reading program at Newman School. She served as a Docent at the Yellowstone Arts Center, served on the Saint Patrick’s Parish Council, on the foundation board for St. John’s Lutheran Home and the board for the Parmly Billings Library. She also loved her friends and time spent at her book club, her stock club and her cancer coalition group.
Bette Bohlinger was committed, even in her last days to help give encouragement to the thousands of people who need bone marrow donations. She hoped that her illness could help bring hope to others suffering a similar disease and she saw the bone marrow drives as a great legacy to her fellow man. “How wonderful it would be to save someone’s life.”
Services for Bette Bohlinger will be held in Billings. There will be a vigil Friday, January 13 at 7 p.m. at Saint Patrick’s and funeral mass will be held Saturday, January 14 at 11 a.m., also at Saint Patrick’s.
Letters and cards can be sent to the Bohlinger family at the following: Lt. Governor John Bohlinger, P.O. Box 200801, Helena, MT 59620-0801.