Bonnie Jean “Jean” LaDow died on Dec. 3, 2017, in Kalispell. She was 97 years old.
Born Bonnie Jean Burner in Sabetha, Kansas, on Jan. 3, 1920, she and her identical twin sister, Betty Jane, were the youngest children of Dr. Edwin Lee and Gladys Mae (Timberlake) Burner.
She attended Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas, where she joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. There she accepted a blind date with Jess LaDow, who was visiting campus with a friend. He soon proposed marriage, and in June 1939, restless with waiting for their planned fall wedding date, he sent her a train ticket to Montana where his family summered in cabins at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. At age 19, she left her twin and familiar life without hesitation, and eloped with Jess in Kalispell. They were happily married for nearly 75 years, spending almost every summer at the lake. She would dash to McDonald Falls to fish while her babies napped, hop on a wrangler’s spare horse headed for Sperry Glacier, or scramble solo up a slope to a lookout cabin, just as readily as she baked apple pies so delicious that Jess once hid one from an unannounced, voracious guest.
She loved word games, puzzles, bridge, biographies, golf, handcrafts – she made dozens of quilts and afghans over the years – and singing in the church choir. She often said, “Why not?!” and with a rare combination of keen discernment, humor, empathy, and an irrepressible wellspring of positive energy – “The Original Silver Lining Department,” as her son once called her – she inspired her three children, six grandchildren, extended family and friends.
She was predeceased by her husband Jess in 2014, her twin sister Jane (Burner) Weaver, her brother John Daniel Burner, and her sister Kathleen (Burner) Davis.
She leaves her daughter Janet LaDow Payne (J. Thomas Payne) of North Oaks, Minnesota; son David E. LaDow of Bellevue, Washington; daughter Mary Beth LaDow (Michael Pontrelli) of Winchester, Massachusetts; grandchildren, Michael Payne, Christopher Payne (Gulnara Payne), Eva LaDow (Michael Reese), Alice LaDow, Kate LaDow Alper and Samuel Alper; and great-granddaughters, Melinda and Aila Payne; and many nieces and nephews.
The family is grateful for the loving care Jean received from the staff at Buffalo Hill Terrace in Kalispell, and for the association of many dear friends throughout her life in Kansas, Montana and Arizona.