Mary Belcher passed away on March 17, 2012, St. Patrick’s Day, from lung cancer complicated by pneumonia. At the time of her death, she was surrounded by many friends and her beloved husband Zack.
Born on May 21, 1932 in Ennis, Texas to Santa Fe Railroad yardmaster Lynn Haskell and homemaker Mary Etta Smith, Mary later graduated from Ennis High School and Texas Women’s College, earning both bachelor and masters degrees in communications. She married Zack Belcher on August 4, 1962.
She is survived by Zack, daughter Lela Lynn Belcher Nickel, granddaughters Samantha Evangelyn Nickel and Katherine Victoria Nickel, cousin Sandra Matthews, numerous Ya-Ya sisters, and canine friend Mingo.
Mary had a varied and colorful career. In Texas, she worked as a general assignment reporter for a newspaper; public relations director for United Way; grant writer for the Technical Education Research Center; and taught African-American history at Paul Quinn College, which is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Mary and Zack created their own business, Educational Services, Inc., a company which made documentary films for schools, commercial companies, and sporting events. Mary wrote over 100 motion picture scripts for these films.
She wrote campaign speeches for presidential candidates Edmund Muskie, Hubert
Humphrey, and George McGovern. In addition, Mary and Zack worked as part of the
advance crew for both the Humphrey and McGovern campaigns.
They moved to Red Lodge, Montana in 1971 to coproduce two full-length motion
pictures. They later leased a poker room in a Red Lodge bar and dealt poker for two
years before beginning 28-year careers as licensed private investigators, initially working
with attorney Frank Kampfe. Mary had unsurpassed compassion for those who were
The epitome of style, love, and grace, Mary often described her life as roses in a coffee can. From the date they met, Mary was completely devoted to Zack and doted over him on a daily basis. Friends fondly recall their Texas-style BBQs, featuring border
buttermilk, held in Belchers’ backyard.
Zack and friends are grateful to the oncology staff at St. Vincent Healthcare for their excellent and compassionate care.
No services are planned.
Memorials may be made to the Montana Rescue Mission or to charities of one’s choice.
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