Cover photo for Mary Prince Noll's Obituary
Mary Prince Noll Profile Photo
1942 Mary 2021

Mary Prince Noll

December 26, 1942 — June 26, 2021

Named for her beloved paternal grandmother, Mary Prince Noll was born on December 26, 1942, to Margaret Elspeth Rutherford and William Theodore Noll in Minneapolis, MN. On June 26, 2021, Mary succumbed to metastatic lung cancer in her home in Bozeman, surrounded by family.

Mary’s early childhood was spent in Wayzata, MN. She attended Northrop Collegiate School where she made lifelong friends and was aptly awarded the much-coveted Nellie Atwater Friendship Award. During summers, she attended Camp Holiday in Hackensack, MN.

She graduated from Colby Junior College and then from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in education. She went on to teach elementary school in Colorado.

In 1966, she married Michael Hamm Ankeny. Mary and Michael had three children, Katharine, Kendall, and Christopher. Summers often included trips to Ox Yoke Ranch where Mary’s love of all things Montana began: The big and brilliant blue sky, mountains lush with wildflowers each of which she learned to name, open fields of farms, a lone barn in a ranch pasture. They moved from Minnesota to Montana in 1978 where they enjoyed living in Big Sky.

In 1982, Mary received a Master’s Degree in Education in Counseling from Montana State University and began working for MSU as an academic advisor. Later, she became Director of University Studies. She adored working with college students and helping them explore the University’s classes prior to determining their major of study.

Mary received many honors throughout her career. She was recognized as the outstanding advisor in the nation by the Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) scholastic honorary. She was the MSU chapter advisor for ALD for 18 years, and according to MSU News Service, “Was instrumental in increasing the number of eligible freshmen who joined the honor society as well as promoting academic excellence and community service within the chapter. In addition, several ALD students at MSU received generous national scholarships due to Noll’s continued dedication to ALD.” Mary received a number of university teaching awards including the Mortar Board Outstanding Professor Award, the Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award (each twice), the MSU Alumni/Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence (twice). She was also named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Other contributions she made to MSU included coordinating the National Student Exchange and supervising curriculum development for General Studies 101, a freshman seminar for undeclared majors. Mary also assisted MSU’s Provost Office in providing course availability to meet student demand. She retired in 2005 but stayed on for an additional 10 years as a part-time flex advisor -- she loved her job so much!

In 2002, Mary married Michael Burke. Together, Mary and Michael enjoyed exploring the many hiking and ski trails around Bozeman. They participated in Wonderlust classes through MSU. They loved spending time with their children and grandchildren.

Mary will be remembered for her affinity for the color red, holiday and everyday traditions, her famous chocolate chip cookies, her canine bias towards Golden Retrievers, her delight in babies and children, being a loyal friend, her love of gardening and meticulous care of plants, and her ability to make Christmas “magical” year after year. Mary was a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church for over 40 years, and she enjoyed serving on the church’s social justice committee. She embraced and was passionate about the Bozeman community and all it offers: Volunteering at the public library, subscribing annually to the symphony, attending MSU football games, enjoying the farmers’ market, Sweet Pea Festival, Music on Main and wandering the trails of GVLT.

She took exceptional care of her body and practiced yoga on nearly a daily basis. Adamant about continuing hiking and skiing, both alpine and nordic, she had a total knee replacement in November 2020, and was nordic skiing just three months later. She and her beloved childhood friends informally became the self-proclaimed “Altoids” and enjoyed yearly ski trips to Alta, UT. She also adventured far into the mountains on horse pack trips.

On April 7, 2021, Mary was diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. One of her greatest regrets in receiving a terminal diagnosis was that her time with her beloved grandchildren would be cut short. While she tried four different chemotherapy regimens, they all came with their own bag of intolerable side effects. Ultimately, she elected to choose quality over quantity and stopped treatment three weeks prior to her death.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents Margaret (Rutherford) and W. T. Noll, and her sister Molly Noll Jacobs. She is survived by her husband, Michael Burke, children: Katharine (Kellie) Ankeny, Kendall (Doug) Child, Christopher (Lisa) Ankeny, stepchildren: Caleigh (Rich) Searle, Adam (Jen) Burke, grandchildren: Orion Ankeny-Green, Lucy Child, Molly Child, Kai Ankeny, Kale Ankeny, and step-grandchildren: Kaden Stone, Gavin Searle, and Teagan Burke, siblings: W. Ted Noll, and Sally (Tim) Ryan.

Mary was truly the embodiment of kindness and graciousness. Family was everything to her and the importance of traditions was cherished. She has left a void that cannot be filled. May God, and all the wonders of this world, bless her.

Many thanks to the caring and supportive staff of the Bozeman Health Cancer Center, Compassus Hospice, Bozeman Health Oxygen, and the many friends who provided meals and love throughout Mary’s illness.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to: Gallatin Valley Food Bank, Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter, Bozeman Public Library, the Human Resources Development Council.

A Celebration of Life will take place on August 4, 2021, 2 pm, at the Emerson Cultural Center theater in Bozeman. A reception in the ballroom will follow.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Prince Noll, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture

111 South Grand Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59715

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