Elberta “Bertie” Kozeliski

April 17, 1931

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March 25, 2021

Elberta “Bertie” Kozeliski

April 17, 1931

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March 25, 2021

It is with heavy hearts that our dear Mom Elberta “Bertie” Kozeliski of Billings passed away unexpectedly on the evening of March 25, 2021, at the age of 89, surrounded by her loving family.

Our Mom was born April 17, 1931, in Great Falls, Montana, the only child of Roy and Ruth Spogen. Growing up, she attended grade school in Lewistown, Montana, and eventually moved to Harlowton, where she graduated from high school in 1949. It was during that time she met Ed Kozeliski. It was the typical All-American love story: the pretty cheerleader with sparkling green eyes meets the handsome athlete from Roundup, Montana. The two survived a long-distance relationship while Mom attended Billings Business College and Dad was attending Gonzaga University. After they were married, Dad joined the Navy, then was stationed in San Diego, California. This is where our Mom started her path working in clerical, which led to her longstanding career of 44 years at Billings West High School.

Together, the two raised three daughters who were their pride and joy. Family was the center of her world. Mom was spunky, highly energetic and always on the go. She was a people person, an avid sports enthusiast and enjoyed socializing with family and friends. Music and theater were also an integral part of who she was. Mom and Dad spent 38 years together before his untimely death in 1989.

Bertie, “Mrs. K,” continued working at Billings West High School until she retired at the age of 83 in 2015, said to be the longest-tenured employee. She was the ultimate West High Golden Bear!!

Our mother never slowed down. She always loved being busy, which led to her part-time position working at Aileen’s Clothing Store, which fit her love of fashion and sense of style.

Mom is survived by her daughters, Debbie Pavelis, Julie (Randy) Kangas, Karen (Terry) Thelen, all of Billings; grandsons, Jason (Kristin) Hein,Phoenix, AZ, Michael (Jacque) Kelly,Brighton, CO, Tanner and Blake Thelen, Billings, MT; great-grandchildren, Maclain and Ella. Bertie was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, her son-in-law, and in-laws.

We love you Mom, always and forever.

Family will greet friends at a visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. A private family service will be held with interment at Sunset Memorial Gardens on Thursday, April 1.

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11 thoughts on “Elberta “Bertie” Kozeliski”

  1. Oh Julie and family. I’m so sorry to learn of your Mom’s passing. My heart aches for you…Mom’s are such an integral part of our spirit. Hold on to your precious memories. Praying for God’s comfort and peace.

  2. Bertie was a wonderful woman. Always so kind and certainly stylish! I know she will be greatly missed by many.

  3. I am so sorry to hear about Bertie. I so enjoyed getting to know her while working at West High. She was such a kind and caring person who treated the students at West High with such patience and love. She will truly be missed by all! We had alot of conversations about basketball as she so loved watching the kids play! I am leaving for an Easter vacation and will not be able to attend on Wednesday, but just know that I thought the world of your mother! You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Bertie was terrific! She was always a treat to work with at Aileen’s….in good humor and with a ready smile. And my children also spoke very highly of Mrs. K during their years at West. Thinking of you all as you mourn her loss. Her daughters were certainly a great point of pride for her. She will be missed by many.

  5. Lynda Vandeventer

    We were so sad to hear this! We were neighbors on Montclair for so many years. She made working at Billings West in the deans office so much fun! Our love and sympathy to each of her family. She loved you dearly and will be missed by many.

  6. TerraBeth Jochems

    So hoping each day brings another warm and wonderful memory of your mom. She brought style and beauty to all who knew her. She will be missed so.

  7. Ceil and I would like to express our sorrows at Bertie’s death. We remember our first trip to Whitefish with the golfing group and the fun and laughs we had especially the naming of the seven dwarfs. It is the happy times we are able to remember. Our sympathy goes to all. Jim and Ceil Rickard

  8. Bertie always had a special place at West High School! Students and staff loved and respected her. My memories of this special lady will always include how always took an interest in me and my family! She loved her family and was so proud of them. I am out of town this week but know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Julie Graham

  9. Geneviève Polkowske

    I am so sorry to hear about Bertie. I send you all my condolences and sympathy. I always enjoyed visiting with her while we were together at West high school. She was always so pleasant, cheerful and very classy. She will be missed by many. God bless her and her family.

  10. Julie,
    I was so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. It was always fun to run into you both out shopping together. I loved that you loved being with your mom. When I had to call West High to excuse my own kids from school, she was the one I would talk to, and she was always so kind and pleasant to talk with. May the special memories you shared fill the deep hole left in your heart. Sincerely, Lorna Stokke

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