On the evening of Friday, November 8, 2019, Bonnie Gauthier Rice, loving mother, grandmother and sister, was called home at the age of 66.
Bonnie was born on June 23, 1953 in St. Ignatius, Montana to Louie and Mary Gauthier. She was raised on the family ranch in Arlee, the youngest of five children. Bonnie spent her early years attending school in Arlee, riding horses, doing chores and pestering her older brothers and sister. She was the family keeper of the pets, finder of lost objects and the apple of her daddy’s eye.
The family moved to Missoula when Bonnie was in fifth grade. She adjusted to life in town by staying active in Junior Riders, piano lessons and school, attending Lewis and Clark Elementary. She attended Hellgate High School in Missoula and Polson High School then finished High School at a Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School in Roswell New Mexico in 1971.
Bonnie lived and worked in several states over the next few years ending up in Seattle in the mid-1970s. It was there she met the love of her life, Bill Rice. In 1978 Jeremy Rice was born to Bonnie and Bill. By then, Bonnie had moved to Butte, USA where she opened “Lady B’s” clothing store. After a couple of years Bonnie and Bill relocated to Kalispell for a short time before settling in Pablo, Montana. Bonnie, an enrolled member, went to work for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1981. Her employment with the Tribes continued until her failing health forced her retirement in 2010. In all, she spent nearly 30 years working with the Tribes in several capacities where she made many friends. She was known for her ability to say what others were thinking, creating many hilarious memories. During this period, Bonnie also worked at the family steak house, Gauthier’s. She often caught hell for buying too many drinks.
Bonnie was active in the Cursillo movement in the Mid 80s and made many friends and developed a deep faith in God. Bonnie was a loyal friend and advisor. She would listen to any problem without judgement. She had friends from all walks of life and loved each of them. She was a loving aunt and confidant to her many nieces and nephews. Bonnie was great company, played a dominant game of pinochle, and enjoyed a good story, suitable or not! Her favorite thing in the world though was her granddaughter Monique. That little girl brought so much love and entertainment to Bonnie over her last couple of years, she was always happy in spite of significant health issues. She never complained.
Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents Louie and Mary, Sister Vickie McCarthy, and former husband and best friend Bill Rice.
She is survived and terribly missed by her son Jeremy Rice and his wife Melissa, granddaughter Monique, Brothers Larry (Jolene), and Gary, both of Polson, Bob (Myrna) of Ronan, step-mother Dean Gauthier of Missoula, step-daughters Terri Gordon-Rice and Linda Westland-Rice and step son Patrick (Theresa) Rice in Washington and newest brother Bob Decker of Arizona. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Cremation has taken place. A rosary will be held at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on Sunday, December 1st at 8:00 pm and Mass on Monday, December 2nd at 10:00 am at the church.