1930 Shirley 2023

Shirley May Holden

March 31, 1930 — April 21, 2023



MISSOULA ~ Shirley May Holden, 93, of Missoula, Montana, passed away of natural causes on Friday, April 21, 2023, at her home.


Shirley was born on March 31, 1930, in Havre, Montana, to Edward and Thresa Ramberg.  She spent her first twelve years on the family ranch near Chinook.  She and her younger brother Dick attended school in a one-room schoolhouse, riding a horse to and from the school.  In 1942, brother Neal was born, and the family moved from Chinook to a ranch on Nine Mile Creek.


Shirley graduated from Alberton High School on May 20, 1948, as valedictorian of her class and with a diploma signed by her father, Ed Ramberg, as Chairman of the Board of Education.  Shirley kept busy throughout her high school years, working on the school newspaper and yearbook, serving in multiple class officer positions, appearing in school plays, and participating in multiple clubs.  Her senior year, she worked in the school office.  The school principal wrote in her yearbook that she was always diligent and dependable, and that it would be hard to fill her position.  Even as busy as she was with classes and school functions, Shirley also was active in 4-H during her high school years.


After graduating from high school, Shirley completed a three-year course at St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in Spokane, Washington, graduating on September 18, 1951, and certified as a registered nurse.  While in school in Spokane, she struck up a close friendship with a fellow classmate (Amy), and they had many adventures over the years.  Shirley spent time working in Salem, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona before returning to Missoula in 1953 and working at Memorial Hospital, which eventually became Missoula Community Hospital and then Community Medical Center.


Shirley met John Holden while he was attending the School of Forestry at the University of Montana.  Shirley and John were married September 19, 1954, in Stark, Montana.  After her husband’s graduation, Shirley and John moved frequently while he was assigned to U.S. Forest Service ranger stations in McCall, Idaho; Council, Idaho; Sula, Montana; Avery, Idaho; Red Ives, Idaho; and White Sulphur Springs, Montana.  The couple settled in the Rattlesnake area of Missoula, Montana in 1965, where Shirley resided until her death.  Shirley and John were divorced in 1968.


Shirley returned to work in 1967 at what was then Missoula Community Hospital on East Main Street in Missoula and then the new Community Medical Center on Fort Missoula Road.  Shirley worked throughout the hospital, and eventually became second floor supervisor.  She ended her career working in the central nursing office at Community Medical Center with Marilyn Easter, responsible for infection control and employee safety.  Along with Pat Barrett, Shirley helped form Concerned Nurses of Montana in the 1980s to stop an effort to legislate the Entry Level of Nursing bill in Montana that would have required all RNs to have a bachelor’s degree, and they succeeded in stopping the proposed legislation in committee.


In addition to being a dedicated RN working full time, Shirley supported her children in many ways.  She was the primary leader of the Rattlesnake Homesteaders 4-H Club in the 1970s.  Shirley also was a Cub Scouts den mother for both of her sons.  Shirley always supported her children and grandchildren in any way she could.


Shirley was an avid bowler, something she took up as an adult activity after her divorce.  Every Thursday evening, no matter what, she met up with her teammates for an enjoyable evening (146 average).  Shirley loved to garden, planting vegetable gardens every year, and starting and sharing tomato plants with family, friends, and neighbors.  She also had beautiful flower beds, with a variety of interesting plants.  One could often find her outside working in the vegetable and flower beds, weeding away.


Shirley was very talented and creative in many ways.  She did a lot of detailed leather tooling, making things such as a checkbook cover, purses, and a photograph album.  She also sewed for many years, making clothes for herself and her children.  She eventually shifted from sewing clothes to making beautiful quilts.


Shirley was a committed birder, and was very active for many years with Five Valleys Audubon Society.  Indeed, she was presented an Exceptional Volunteer Award in recognition of her many years of dedication and commitment to the timely circulation of newsletters and for her consistent support of the Society’s goals and activities.  Her binoculars were always close by to check out any new birds visiting the backyard or on any road trips.  She went on numerous local birding trips, and also traveled to other parts of the country with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, including South Texas; the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia; and New Mexico.  She traveled to Utah with the University of Montana Center for Continuing Education and Summer Programs.  In 1990, when students from Hellgate, Sentinel, and Big Sky bands performed at the Rose Parade, Shirley was there to enjoy the parade in person.  She also took advantage of the Railroading in the Rockies tour in 2003, seeing many sights in Canada and getting to know Jill Valley.


Shirley took many trips to visit her children and grandchildren.  She traveled to Athens, Greece when her son Jeff was stationed there.  In addition to seeing a number of historical sites in Athens, she took a boat trip to some of the Greek islands.  She traveled multiple times to the Washington, DC-Virginia area, where daughter Kathy and her family were living, and enjoying the flowers and history of that part of the country.  She also spent time with her son David and his family in Vancouver, Washington.  Whenever Shirley visited her children and their families, she always kept busy helping out, doing tasks like weeding and washing windows.


Shirley loved Glacier National Park.  Some of her kids believe she came by that love genetically, as her father worked in the Park leading trail rides before he was married.  When she was young, the family took summer vacations in the Park, camping, fishing, and seeing the sights.  As an adult with children, she hiked to Sperry Glacier with family members, and made the hike to the Logan Pass Hidden Lake overlook many times, as long as she was able to do so.  She enjoyed the Glacier Park mountains, and especially enjoyed the mountain goats and the birds.  Shirley also loved the Pacific Ocean.  For a number of years, she rented a house on Rockaway Beach for a week or more in late summer or early fall, sometimes joined by family members, and sometimes on her own.


Shirley was stubborn (it’s in the Ramberg genes) about being as independent as possible and not wanting to rely on other people.  She fortunately had many good friends and neighbors who would provide her assistance when needed, if family was not available.  Unfortunately, Shirley fell in November 2021, and that led to her decline both physically and mentally.  Shirley was blessed to have the support of Partners in Home Care, Missoula Aging Services, her medical team at Providence, and Eileen from Home Instead.  As she wished, Shirley was able to remain at home until her passing because of the support and caring of these wonderful people.


She was preceded in death by her parents Ed and Thresa Ramberg.  Shirley is survived by her children, Jeff Holden and wife Tina, David Holden and wife Geri, and Kathy Harris and husband David; three granddaughters, Rebecca Holden, Sarah Holden, and Jessica Harris; three grandsons, Steven Holden, Kevin Holden, and Andy Menke; and four great-grandchildren, Lucas, Shoshanna, David, and Amy.  She is also survived by both of her brothers, Dick Ramberg and wife Judy, and Neal Ramberg and wife Shirley, and their children.


A celebration of Shirley’s life will be held on Friday, July 28, at 1 pm at Sunset Memorial Gardens, 7405 Mullan Road, in Missoula.  Lunch will be served following the celebration.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Partners in Home Care, Missoula Food Bank, or a charity of your choice.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley May Holden, please visit our flower store.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, July 28, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

Sunset Cemetery Funeral Home and Crematory

7405 Mullan Road, Missoula, MT 59808

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