Christene Bray Tavolacci, 88, of Billings, was surrounded by family when she left this world for her home in glory on Feb. 17, 2013, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. We will miss her greatly, but rejoice that she is now and eternally in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She is also reunited with Don, the love of her life and her husband for 53 years.
Christene was born Nov. 13, 1924, in Hobart, Ind., to Clint and Clova Bray. She was the oldest of four children. After graduating from high school, Christene moved to Fresno, Calif. She lived at the YWCA, working as a telephone operator for Western Union. Christene met her future husband, a Navy World War II veteran, at a dance while he was attending Fresno State College. On May 16, 1947, she married Don F. Tavolacci in Kingsburg, Calif.
The first 21 years of her married life were spent in Fresno and then Delano, Calif., where Don was a high school teacher and track and cross country coach. In 1968, she and Don moved to British Columbia, Canada, where they served the Lord at Trinity Western College. Christene was a receptionist/secretary, and Don was the athletic director, teacher and a coach. They moved to Billings in June 1977.
Christene was a faithful wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a devoted homemaker, even sewing her daughters’ clothes to make ends meet. Christene was committed to raising her three children, after which she returned to secretarial jobs. She will always be remembered for her great cooking. She was especially known for her lasagna, roast beef dinners, Swedish pepper kakoo cookies, apple slices and ice box cheesecake. “Grandma could even make broccoli taste good!” Besides Christene’s passion for serving her family, she loved having people over for Sunday dinners and hosting visiting missionaries. She was a volunteer for many years in her church’s young children’s classes and shared and passed her faith to her family and friends. She leaves us with a lasting legacy of faith and family, for which we are forever grateful. Christene was very supportive of her husband’s many endeavors over the years, and loved to snuggle and rock her grandchildren.
Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And, whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” John 11:25, 26
Christene is survived by her brother, Gene Bray of Illinois; and her sister, Vivian Garber of New Mexico; one son, Don C. (Karen) Tavolacci of Bend, Ore.; and two daughters, Kathleen (Paul) Gerber of Billings and Cynthia (Kevan) Bryan, also of Billings; seven grandchildren, Sara (Austin) Evans and Laura Tavolacci, Beth Gerber and Jordan (Christine) Gerber and Keith (Tracy), Greg and Jenny Bryan; along with five great-grandchildren.
Christene was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Don; and her brother, Kenneth Bray.
Our family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Tender Nest and at Rocky Mountain Hospice for their caring hearts and support.
Private burial will take place. A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Faith Evangelical Church, 3145 Sweetwater Drive. (Please use North Entrance).
Memorials may be made to Gideon’s International, PO Box 1984, Billings, MT 59103.