We lost our beautiful Montana born and raised Phyllis Bellingham on April 20, 2017, in Billings. She passed quietly, without pain, at the Billings Clinic Hospital during the night. Just the way she would have planned it.
Phyllis was born in Billings on July 24, 1922, to the police chief of Billings, Val Lechner and Evelyn Scott Lechner. She graduated from Billings High School in 1940 and attended Eastern Montana College, becoming a teacher. She married William Hawley Bellingham in 1945 as he was transferring from the war in Europe to the Pacific theater. The end of the war was announced the day after their wedding. She taught school in East Helena, Clinton and then Missoula during Bill’s completion of law school. After Bill graduated from law school, they moved to Billings, where Phyl was a homemaker and mother to their three children. She tirelessly chased kids and their sports and school activities. She enjoyed gardening and spent countless hours in her gorgeous flowerbeds. Not much grass grew under her feet with membership in Junior League, Eastern Star Cascade Chapter (over 50 years), First Congregational Church, United Way Board and the Audubon Society (she was a lifelong birder!). he was a voracious reader and volunteered at the library, as well as reading books onto tapes for the blind, fishing, skiing and RV traveling.
Phyllis had a zest for life. She faced adversity with stamina and superhuman resiliency. She took on aging cheerfully and was unafraid to speak directly whatever the cost. She had a laugh that you could hear and recognize anywhere and she used it often … always positive and full of fun, except when it came to bridge and that was serious. She played duplicate and contract bridge up until her last days and was diligent to not miss a trick.
She was preceded in death by her husband, William Bellingham; her son, Randy Bellingham; daughter Shari Bellingham; and only sister Patty Segard. She is survived by her daughter, Valerie Olson (Greg); granddaughters Kathleen Rayfield (Andrew) and Brynn Bellingham (Brendan Casey); and grandson David Edgerton. She has one great-grandson, Henry Rayfield.
Memorial service arrangements are pending. Memorial donations may be made to First Congregational Church or a favorite charity.