Vita Ann Arlene (Bruce) Archambault, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, longtime resident of Browning and more recently Billings, passed away on Sept. 16, 2020, at home, surrounded by her family. She was 83 years old.
Vita was born on May 7, 1937, her mother’s birthday, in Belcourt, North Dakota, to Donald and Marie (Azure) Bruce. Vita was a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and was the second oldest of four siblings. She attended Belcourt Public Schools through graduation and then went on to pursue her License Practical Nurse certification through St. Alexius in Bismarck, North Dakota. She then went on to Bottineau, North Dakota, to work as a nurse and met the love of her life, Charles Edward Archambault, from Fort Belknap. They were married at St Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt on Sept. 2, 1958, and had six beautiful children. Vita was a devout Catholic.
After Charles received his engineering degree from NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota, the family moved around Western Montana and Idaho until finally settling on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning in 1973. They raised their family and embraced their community for over 30 years here, always willing to help through their small businesses and Vita’s medical care. Vita worked at the Blackfeet Nursing Home for many years as an LPN, an Activities Director and a loving and caring friend. She had a love for the elderly people of the reservation, and provided comfort and care at the end of their lives. She also worked as an EMT and a Home Health nurse for the Blackfeet Tribe, where she provided the same gentle and loving care to everyone she came across. When Vita showed up to people’s homes, they were immediately comforted and knew she would take care of them.
Vita was always “family first” and instilled this quality into her children and grandchildren, as well as her work ethic. Everyone was required to work and/or go to school, no question. She fully supported her family in everything they did and helped pick them up when they needed that too. Her favorite way to celebrate her family was through cooking and organizing family gatherings. Every birthday, holiday and accomplishment was acknowledged with a meal and you’d better have a good excuse if you couldn’t make it. We traveled to Turtle Mountain at least a few times a year so her children would know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and know who and where they came from.
Vita loved to entertain and always kept a beautiful home full of Native American art that she and Chuck collected throughout their lives. They would visit the Santa Fe Art Show every year as well as support local Native artists in every way. She also loved to play bridge with “the girls” and often held bridge parties at their home. She loved to sew and knit, and especially loved decorating. She could make anywhere beautiful with just a few touches of her style, elegance and love added.
Vita is survived by her husband, Charles; her sons, Steve, Doug and Sam; and her daughters, Patricia, Susan and Mary; as well as her 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; her sisters, Delcie Jerome and Alta Bruce of North Dakota. She is preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Marie Bruce; her sister, Lorraine Holmes; and her brother, Willard Bruce.
A small Catholic service will be held in Billings at the Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., on Sept. 18, with rosaries at 9 a.m. and a Catholic service to follow at 10 a.m. A second service will be held at St. Benedict’s on her beloved Turtle Mountain Reservation on Sept. 19, with rosaries at 9 a.m. and mass at 10 a.m. Her ashes will be buried with her mother at St. Anthony’s in Turtle Mountain. The family would like to send a special thank you to Nurse Practitioner Erin Neibaur of the Pryor Medical Clinic, Dr. Brock and the RiverStone Hospice Team and especially to Katilyn Lahr, her CNA who took such good care of her in her last days. Kati was so gentle and loving with her every day and loved her so much. You are now family, Kati girl, if there is anything you need, you call on us.