Carolyn Kembel Ennis
Carolyn Kembel Ennis passed away on Oct. 20, 2017, at the age of 76, in Whitefish. She loved Montana, was a remarkable woman, and will be remembered as a beloved civic champion who made innovative and generous contributions to the quality of life in her city and state.
Born July 29, 1941, in Los Angeles, Carolyn was the first child of Robert and Marjorie (McDivitt) Kembel. She moved with her family to Kalispell in 1948. After graduating from Flathead County High School in 1959, she attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, majored in history, graduated in 1963, and was elected alumni class president in 2008.
After college, Carolyn married Bruce L. Ennis at St. Matthew’s Church in Kalispell. She worked at the University of Montana Law School library while Bruce attended law school. Following his graduation, they explored Europe in a convertible Volkswagen visiting friends and seeing historic sites. It was the first of many adventures Carolyn had with friends and family throughout the world. Upon their return, they settled in Billings where they raised two children Greg and Felicia. In 2009, Carolyn returned to live in the Flathead area to be near her family.
Carolyn was actively involved in the Billings community and throughout Montana. Her lifelong dedication to community involvement resulted in the legislative campaign to pass mandatory public school kindergarten in Montana. She was instrumental in developing Billings’ first historic district. She served as board member of the Yellowstone Art Center, the Alberta Bair Theatre for the Performing Arts, the Montana Cultural Trust, and the Montana Committee for the Humanities (Humanities Montana). In addition, she supported and participated in many other civic projects. She cherished her community involvement and gave her time quietly to dozens of new initiatives.
In mid-life, Carolyn took on another challenge and enrolled in Law School at the University of Montana. She passed the bar exam in 1988. She served as executive director of the St. Vincent’s Hospital Foundation, and then began private practice in Billings.
Carolyn was pre-deceased by her parents Robert and Marjorie Kembel.
She is survived by a son, Gregory K. Ennis, and his wife Laura L. Ennis, and their children Claire L. and Theodore K., of Kalispell; and her daughter, Felicia L. Ennis, of Whitefish. She is also survived by her brother, Robert D. Kembel, and his wife Joanne; sister, Kathleen A. Douglas, and her husband William Staack; nieces and nephews, Khristine A. Gavigan, Marcella L. Stuewe, James S. Wheeler, Geoffrey E. Wheeler, Brennan L. Schwarz, Lara A. Porrini, Carolyn J. Nissley; and her former husband, Bruce L. Ennis.
The family is especially indebted to all of the remarkable caregivers and friends who offered loving support and kindness throughout Carolyn’s gracious struggle with Alzheimer’s. She was aware of those gifts and will be eternally grateful.
All are welcome to attend a funeral liturgy at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral, Billings. A special celebration will follow at Yellowstone Art Museum.
Gainan’s Flowers of Billings has made floral arrangements. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Flathead Lakers, P.O. Box 70, Polson, MT 59860; or Home Options Hospice, c/o KRH Foundation, 310 Sunnyview Lane, Kalispell, MT 59901.