Cherilee “Cheri” Alice Houle, 69, of Polson, passed away on Sunday, March 3, 2019, at home surrounded by her loving family. Cheri was born April 27, 1949, in Polson, to Dick and Alice Dresen. Her family meant the world to her and she was a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. All who knew her admired her tenacity for life, relentless work ethic, as well as, her smile and laughter.
Cheri is preceded in death by her son Hugh Houle and her parents Dick and Alice Dresen. She is survived by her children Kelly and Christy Houle, Jolene Houle, daughter-in-law Lisa Houle, stepchildren Cathy (Houle) and Keith Barrows, Mike and Pamela Houle, Sandy (Houle) and Brian Hall, and Fred Houle and Nicole Hadley, siblings Kent and Phyllis Dresen, Shane and Kathy Dresen, and Rock and Shelley Dresen, and Patty (Dresen) and Bill Huffman. She leaves behind eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cheri spent her childhood on a family farm northeast of Pablo, against the Mission Mountains. Her family later moved south of Ronan, where she spent her teenage years. All who knew Cheri loved her vibrant personality, willingness to change her hair style on a whim, and her ability to “cut a rug” with the best of them. She worked at the local Dairy Queen in Ronan and loved life. She graduated from Ronan High School in 1967 and pursued a nursing degree in Havre.
She married Bob Houle in 1970. They were married for 27 years and together raised three children on a ranch east of Polson. She cherished the role of being an at home mom which she did very well for years. She was also an at home caregiver for her mother-in-law for ten plus years while her children were in grade school. She was a very supportive mother. Every event her children were involved in she threw her heart into supporting them and always managed to take on prominent roles in the organizations such as Pablo Baseball Association President, Girl Scout Leader, PTA and Ronan Booster Club to name a few. She spent numerous hours in gyms and rodeo grandstands across the state supporting her children. She not only did a fantastic job raising her own kids, but she also opened up her home and helped raise many other people’s kids.
Cheri worked for over 20 years for the Ronan School District first as a substitute teacher and then on a full-time basis in a number of different capacities. She loved working with students and fostered strong connections with many. She started a successful, but labor intensive, business called “Cheri’s Kitchen Catering” at an age when most people would have wanted to coast until retirement. She was known to put in many 16-hour days and work circles around anyone who worked with her. She brought joy and wonderful meals to many family gatherings, weddings, community dinners and events throughout the Mission Valley for nearly 15 years.
Cheri was an extremely generous volunteer of her time and energy to her local community because it was important to her. She hosted many Thanksgiving Community Dinners and was involved in the local Women’s Club, Relay for Life, and Safe Harbor to name a few. Her contributions to our community will be missed.
Cheri was very patriotic. She always loved flying the red, white and blue. We watched every state of the union address and she did her best to support the leaders of our nation.
Her love of sports stemmed from her childhood. Her Grandma Dresen used to listen to the World Series and was a serious White Sox fan. Baseball was one of Cheri’s favorite sports, but listening to local football games on the radio was truly a love of hers especially if the coach was her son or a player was one of her grandsons.
Cheri also loved to take trips with her family and friends. She went on numerous cruises. She loved to seek out sunshine with beach vacations where she never learned to apply sunscreen and was always the first to sport a sunburn. She truly enjoyed off the grid camping trips with her daughter and grandchildren. She was an awesome camp cook.
She wasn’t one to pass up a good rummage sale and finding treasures to go with her numerous collections. Also, scoring good trading stock for her well-seasoned antique collector, sister-in-law brought her great joy. Her grandchildren learned to scope out a yard sale sign before they knew how to read.
There isn’t one person who knew Cheri who wouldn’t say she was a strong woman with a tenacious work ethic that had no quit. She has left a legacy with her children and grandchildren. She will be greatly missed, but we know she is wrapped in the arms of Jesus and riding with Hugh in heaven. We’ll carry your love in our pockets until we meet again sweet sister, momma and greatest of all Grandma Cheri.
Please join us in honoring Cheri on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at 11 a.m. at the New Life Church in Polson. A catered lunch will follow. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Safe Harbor.