Petie (Teresa Kathleen) Koerber Rockafellow passed away on April 24, 2021. She was born on June 3, 1935, in Manhattan, MT to Joseph Koerber and Emma (Simonyi) Koerber, one of seven children. She was raised in the Manhattan area and graduated from Manhattan High school in 1953.
After graduating high school, Mom went to work at Mountain Bell as an operator. She fondly remembered this time of her life as being one of the most enjoyable. It was there that she met and married Dad, Rocky, who also worked there. She was amused that they dated for a short time, 100 days in a row, and being that it was ‘leap year’ the woman was allowed to ask the man for his hand in marriage—she did this proudly!
Mom told us all she remembers that of all her siblings, she was the only one who did not care to have any children, so she went ahead and had seven. Mom spent her early years with her husband and children in Laurel and Bozeman before settling in Livingston. Mom worked hard all her life for her family. This undoubtedly was her pride and joy. She had the first three of us kids, Joe, David and Ruth Ann, 13 months apart. They waited five years and added a set of twins, Darrin, and Diane, then five years later had another son Bob and four years after that had their youngest daughter, Suzy. Mom raised kids for 35 years or more and was home for every one of her kids after school. We would like to think she loved every minute of it but in all reality, we are sure there were some lean and trying years. After raising her own children, she took a job with East Side School and continued to love the children of the playground and lunchroom.
Mom never complained and played her role in life with optimism and determination. She took care of all of us kids, was a loving wife, daughter, sister to her siblings, and never knew a stranger. She put up with not just us kids but all our friends too! She refined and defined the role of “domestic engineer”. She never had a moment to herself because us kids always fought over her lap when she finally did sit down.
Volunteer is her middle name. She was a charter member for the St. Mary’s hot lunch program when us kids went to school there. She was a volunteer at the Senior Center kitchen, was a board member of Angel Line, delivered Meals on Wheels for years and was a Eucharistic minister for the homebound. She was a people-person and loved to chat at the library, grocery store, church—anywhere she found a familiar face. And a familiar face she was. Every trip her and Dad went on, someone would approach her and ask her if they knew each other. A friendly, warm, and inviting person was she.
She was also a voracious reader. She could plow through a book in a day if she set her mind to it. Our youngest sister asked her to tally her reads in a year and to our surprise, it was over 300 books. This was also a source of socializing. She loved to go to the library, the secondhand bookstores, and the senior center in search for the next sackful of paperback novels. She had a strict policy of never paying over 50 cents for a book and was also known to reread them.
We will all miss our Matriarch very much. She has notched a special place in our hearts that only she lives. She is survived by one sister, her seven children, son Joe (Michelle) of Livingston, son David (Rachel) of Bozeman, daughter Ruth Shellenberg (Jeff) of Bozeman, son Darrin (Dina) of Livingston, daughter Diane Coffman (Lynn) of Livingston, son Bob (Dalonda) of Livingston, daughter Suzy (Karen Laing) of Madison, WI, 15 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren with one on the way, many nieces and nephews, and hundreds of honorary children from East Side School. She was preceded in death by her parents, one brother, four sisters and her infant great granddaughter, Virginia.
Mom’s family was her breath, her heartbeat, her life. A Celebration of her Life will be held at the Christian Center in Livingston on Thursday, April 29th at 1:30 pm. Donations to support her memory may be made to Meals on Wheels/Senior Citizen Center, 206 S. Main Street, Livingston, MT 59047, or Livingston Healthcare - Hospice, 320 Alpenglow Lane, Livingston, MT 59047.