Emerald Lucy Barker
Emerald Lucy Bonser Barker, age 98, passed away May 31, 2017
at The Retreat in Polson, her home since 2008.
A proud member of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Emerald was born February 26, 1919 in Polson Montana to Harry Huston Bonser and Cecilia Theresa Ducharme Bonser. Cecilia’s parents were Ben Ducharme and Caroline Ashley. Harry and Cecilia met while attending Carlisle Institute. Cecilia died in 1928 leaving seven daughters in Harry’s care.
Emerald attended the Ursuline boarding school at St. Ignatius and graduated from Bismarck High School in North Dakota. While a student at University of Montana, Emerald met and married Lyle Lewis French January 3, 1939. They had a daughter Mary Cecilia. Emerald and Mary relocated to Sacramento California in 1943 and resided with Harry Bonser. Emerald worked for the Benicia Arsenal, JJ Jacobs Motor Co. and the State of California and attained an Associate in Arts degree from Sacramento Junior College in 1956. Emerald visited and swam in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1962 and wrote this note, “I touched the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe underwater. One of the best experiences of my life.”
On August 23, 1969 Emerald married Bertram Keith Barker who built their “honeymoon house” in the North Crow area. Together they built and lived in the “yellow house” near Kicking Horse. Emerald and Keith were active in the community before Keith died in 1997.
A zealous swimmer from youth in the Flathead Lake, Emerald loved coming home to Montana and said she would never leave again. Emerald’s photo appeared in newspapers on January 1, 2003, 2005 and 2006 as part of the Polar Bear Plunge.
Emerald enjoyed ballroom dancing, attending and holding yard sales, attending classes at S & K College and doing genealogy research on her ancestors. Emerald was dedicated to the restoration of the Beauvais Decker Catholic Cemetery and its return from the Diocese of Helena to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1998.
A member of the Mission Valley Aquatics committee, North Crow Women’s Club and Immaculate Conception Parish, Emerald volunteered at The Country Store.
She is survived by her daughter Mary Cecilia (French) Goodby, granddaughter, Sara Louise (Goodby) Nordio (husband Keith), great granddaughter Sofia Grace Nordio and one of seven sisters, Mildred Bonser Gerber of Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.
The family wishes to acknowledge these dear people for the loving care of Emerald: Pam and Bob Bonner, Cheri Houle, all staff of THE RETREAT and Margit Groessler.
Burial was private and arrangements are by The Lake Funeral Home. Any donations are suggested to the Mission Valley Aquatics Center, P.O. Box 774, Polson, MT. A celebration of life by family and friends is planned this summer.