Charleen Novak

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Charleen Novak

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Charleen Novak
Charleen Novak

On Sunday, January 29, 2012, the open, generous heart of Charlee Novak stopped while she was doing what she loved.  Although she was revived long enough to give her children time to say good-bye, she died on January 30.

Charleen “Charlee” Marie Novak was born on August 19, 1929, in Terry, Montana, the daughter of Varrel and Dorothy Conner.  Varrel became an appraiser for the U.S. Corps of Engineers, and the family moved often.  Mom always said that they were lucky because her dad had such a good, steady job during the Depression.  She grew up all over the United States, which gave her an ease with people that lasted all her life.

Mom graduated from high school in Miles City and then started college in Missoula. She later transferred to Bozeman. Her degree was “postponed” when she met Bill Novak. They married, had three children, and started several successful businesses. They stayed close and loving friends even after they divorced 23 years later. Mom humbly called herself a “bookkeeper,” despite doing far more than maintaining the books for the small businesses that she and Bill started, as well as the publicly-traded corporation they founded. Bill had the vision, the business savvy, and the ability to deal with banks. Charlee had the common sense, the heart, and the love to deal with Bill and everything else.

She had so many interests, and she loved retirement because she finally got to pursue them to her heart’s content. She started playing piano at age six. She loved music, especially Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, and Harry Connick, Jr. She was an artist and loved to paint, especially in oils. She loved television, especially Simon Baker. She loved reading; she was active in a book club and had just read and watched The Soloist. She loved giving—to her family and friends, to local charities, and to her church. She loved crossword puzzles. And she loved watching tennis, especially Novak Djokovich.  In fact, we are convinced that the match between Djoko and Nadal, the longest men’s final in grand slam tennis history, over-excited her. Her heart stopped while she was watching it.

But most of all she loved her family.  She was never happier than when she was surrounded by them. Fortunately, this past Christmas, we were all with her, doing what we always do – talking, watching movies, eating (a lot), crying, and, above all, laughing. Her heart was joy-filled whenever she held her first great-grandchild, Jack, on her lap. Jack, usually unwilling to sit, especially with someone he hasn’t seen very much, settled into his GG’s lap, happy.

Charlee is survived by her family, Gary Conner; Sharon, John and Kathy Novak; Caitlin, John and Jack Saracco; Ricci Novak Cameron; Matthew Singer; and James Quincy.  Two more great-grandchildren will be born in 2012. Charlee’s parents, her son Douglas, and her former husband and best friend Bill died before her.

Charlee has been cremated.  At her request and consistent with the wishes of her family, there will be no services. She asked that her ashes be scattered into the wind in the mountains above Missoula.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Billings Food Bank, 2112 4th Ave North, Billings, MT 59101, or the Kelker’s Kids Foundation for Pediatric Cancer, PO Box 31031, Billings, MT 59107. Most of all, Charlee would ask that you love your family and enjoy your life. We will miss her youthful spirit and signature smile.

 


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