HAMILTON — On Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, Ronelle Jean Owen Lyng passed away peacefully at the age of 87 due to complications with congestive heart failure. As she visited with family and friends during the final weeks of her life, she was heard saying, “This was the most pleasant day.” 

Ronelle was born in Roundup, in 1930, to Elsie and Ronald Owen. She was their only child. Her father worked in the coal mines, but eventually moved the family to Deer Lodge where they remained for much of Ronelle’s childhood. When she was 16, her family made Hamilton their next and final destination where her father, “Red,” opened G&R Electric. Ronelle completed high school at Hamilton High and graduated in the top of her class in 1948.  Following graduation, she attended Graceland College in Iowa for one year, but did not feel comfortable away from the West or the mountains. She planned a return and chose to attend Kinman Business College in Spokane where she received training as a legal secretary. She enjoyed the legal field and continued in the profession for 60-plus years! The majority of her employment was spent under the employ of Claude Johnson, and his son, Larry Johnson, both attorneys in Hamilton.

While attending Kinman in Spokane, she met and married Bob Hamby in 1949. He was in the Air Force, which took them briefly to Rapid City, South Dakota, but ultimately back to Hamilton, where Bob worked for her parents at G&R Electric, and she worked for Claude Johnson. In Hamilton, they had two children, Scott Lyng (Hamilton) and Joell Hamby (Sunnyvale, California).  Ronelle and Bob’s marriage did not endure. However, her love for her children did, and she would not have traded that time for anything. In the early 1960s, she met and eventually married Les Lyng. He was the “love of her life,” and they remained married until his death in 2009. Together they had a daughter, Alana Hughes (Missoula), and Les’ daughter, Virginia Marabetta (Seattle), was an important addition to her family. Ronelle is survived by: four granddaughters and six great grandchildren by her son, Scott; two grandsons by her daughter, Alana; and five grandchildren/five great grandchildren/five great-great grandchildren by her stepdaughter, Virginia.

In addition to Ronelle’s strong desire to work outside the home, she was known for her knowledge of glassware, particularly depression glass. While she and Les were married, they would spend many a weekend traveling to gun and antique shows throughout the West pedaling their wares (Les was a gun dealer). Her knowledge of glass was in depth, all fueled by her desire to admire its visual beauty. While traveling to the shows, she also enjoyed the scenic travels and camaraderie with like-minded people that the excursions provided.  

Through the years, Ronelle exemplified what it meant to be a loyal friend, grandmother, mother, and wife. She was not one to seek social situations, but she cherished those who valued real, nonobligatory interactions. Her relationships in the Bitterroot Valley spanned several generations and ran deep. She was a fair, genuine individual who was consistently generous with her money. Additionally, she felt compelled to strongly encourage and appreciate individuality and uniqueness in others.

Ronelle’s wishes were to have her ashes scattered with her husband, Les. In addition, she always had a great affinity for water. Therefore, the family will honor both facets of Ronelle’s desires in a remembrance get-together this summer. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made in Ronelle’s name to Marcus Daly Hospice, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840, or to the Bitterroot Humane Society, P.O. Box 57, Hamilton, MT 59840.

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