Mary Ann Canan

September 21, 1926

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December 18, 2020

Mary Ann Canan

September 21, 1926

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December 18, 2020

Mary Ann Canan passed away in Billings, Montana, on December 18, 2020, with her family by her side. She was born on September 21, 1926, in Englewood, New Jersey, to Robert and Mary Peckett. She was raised in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, where she and her sister loved to ride horses through the woods. After high school, she worked in a card shop and gave ski lessons to guests of the family hotel, Peckett’s-on-Sugar-Hill.

At the age of 24, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for Senator Styles Bridges. She would search through all the newspapers, find articles mentioning him, and put them in a scrapbook. Her time in the Washington sparked her lifelong interest in politics. Voting was especially important to her, and we would not be served dinner on election night until we voted.

While in Washington, she met James Canan. They were married on March 7, 1952. Jim wanted to be married on February 29 so he would only have to remember their anniversary every four years, but the Navy interrupted those plans. Every four years, they would celebrate “his” anniversary and “her” anniversary. After Jim’s discharge from the Navy, he took a job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and they moved west, finally ending up in Billings, Montana, in 1962.

Mary Ann loved to ski and was a season pass holder at Red Lodge, Montana, for over 40 years. She had a little book where she kept track of each day she went skiing so she could keep track of when she paid off her ski pass. Her favorite day of skiing was the day she had skied enough days to pay for her pass and afterwards was “skiing for free.” She also noted in the book who went with her and the skiing conditions. She was able to ski until the age of 83.

Another favorite pastime was to walk her dog. For many years, she was a daily visitor to Zimmerman Park. Even in her later years, she tried to go for a walk every day. She would watch the flags outside her retirement home window to assess how much the wind was blowing and the likelihood of being able to go for a walk. Many knew her as “the lady who walks.”

Other activities included attending the Billings Symphony, volunteering with the League of Women Voters, and attending Sunday services at the First Presbyterian Church. During the COVID pandemic, she attended Sunday “Church in the Chair” on Facebook.

She is survived by four children, James (Julie) Canan of Portland, Oregon, Deborah Canan of Billings, David (Kathryn) Canan of Grass Valley, California, and Robert (Peggy) Canan of Billings. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Jim in 2009, her parents and her siblings.

Special thanks to the caregivers at Morningstar who cared for her the past several years.

A memorial service will be held later.

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12 thoughts on “Mary Ann Canan”

  1. Hertha Feldman Voorhis

    My memories of MaryAnn stretch back to my very early days on Ave B with the Bolies, vogel’s, and yes the Canan’s. Running up and down Ave B , in and out of houses, riding bikes…those were the days. The beauty of growing up in Billings is that these childhood friendships continue through our lives. I so much enjoyed seeing her at my pharmacy window. She always had a story or we talked about “the way things used to be” in our everyday life or worldly events. She took a blood pressure pill called Norvasc which she referred to as “norvasco” …I will always smile when I hear Norvasc , Maryann you earned your wings…fly free.

    1. Thank you for you kind words. She really enjoyed talking with you and felt you were always looking out for her. Thank you for your exceptional service to her over many years

  2. Mary Ann was my mentor and friend in the LWV for 35+ years. We made several trips together to state board meetings, and often Jim would accompany us. I remember fondly skiing at RL with MA. Four of us gals went on Tuesdays for a season 1993?) she was the oldest and by far the best. We moved to Helena 26 years ago, but we stayed in touch and would visit or stay with Canans when in Billings.
    Marcy McLean

  3. We always enjoyed Jim and Mary Ann as neighbors. She DID love her walks and she was always interested in what our kids were up to. She has left a beautiful legacy here on earth! PEACE to all—Libby and Jim Markus

  4. I took care of Mary Ann at Morningstar a few years back. She was such an amazing woman and left a major impact on my life. Mary Ann never failed to leave a smile on the faces of the staff and the other residents of Morningstar. She pushed me to go to nursing school back when I worked there and it ended up being the best decision I ever made. If it wasn’t for Mary Ann I wouldn’t be where I am today. My deepest condolences to the Canan family. She will be deeply missed.

    1. Thank you for your words and thoughts. She would be so proud to here you became a nurse. She received great care at MS over the years. Thank you!

  5. Cece Byorth Padon

    I have such fond memories of “Mrs.”Canan. She was so kind to my siblings and me and often offered a scoop of peppermint ice cream. Her warm, confident and loving smile was encouraging and the attention she gave me made me feel cared for. You were all such great neighbors! I also loved your dog Noodles 🙂 The thought of Mary Ann warms my heart. May you all be comforted knowing she lived and loved well. My heartfelt sympathy in your loss.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. Mom had a very kind heart. She always had ice cream in the freezer. Just last month I bought mom some peppermint ice cream. She always had room for ice cream. I was sorry to hear that your dad isn’t doing well. Cancer is so hard. It does give time to say the words we want to say. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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