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Official Obituary of

Helen A Cossitt

May 18, 1931 ~ February 26, 2024 (age 92) 92 Years Old
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Helen Cossitt Obituary

Despite medical issues, hospitalizations, and surgeries that began decades ago and caused her to anticipate she wouldn’t see age 70, Helen Cossitt lived to her fullest until Monday, February 26, 2024, when she passed away at 92 in Helena, Montana.

And until the most recent few years, her “fullest” life was very full. She never missed an opportunity to socialize with friends, family and others she encountered wherever she might be. She always had goals and she made certain they got accomplished. If you were ever part of working a project for or with her, you know her drive. Her most recent push surfaced at the end of 2023 when she decided it was time to leave Billings and all her good friends there after more than 30 years and move to Helena to be closer to her only child, Carl Cossitt. She made her last goals a reality – she moved into her Helena apartment on January 20 and spent her final days in her own home surrounded by family.

Helen was resilient, independent, strong-willed, creative, and generous. Our lives are less full without Helen here.

Helen was born on May 18, 1931 in Miles City, MT, the second child of Oscar (Sal) Cain and Gladys (Venable Cain). Her first home was a one-room cabin, built by her father, at the base of Home Creek Butte between Ashland and Broadus. The nearest community was Stacey, Montana. Eventually many years later, they moved into a larger home on the ranch to accommodate Helen, her two brothers, and two sisters.

She rode a horse six miles each way to elementary school through 4th grade. She was so little she had to use a stump to get on the horse and they often left at daylight and didn’t get home until after dark. By the time Helen entered 7th grade, her father and a neighbor had built a school house closer to home. She went to Miles City for high school where she stayed in a boarding house during the week and was picked up by her dad on Fridays to go back to the ranch.

Helen graduated high school in 1948 and got on the bus to Billings to attend the two-year teaching program at what is now MSU-Billings. She started teaching at age 18 and taught grade school in Ashland, Cartersville and Birney while going to summer school in Billings to finish her certificate.

Helen met her husband, Lester Austin Cossitt, a rancher in Quietus, Montana at a country dance in Birney, where she was teaching at the time. There were married on December 14, 1952 in Hardin, Montana. After school was over that spring, they left his ranch and moved to Billings. Their son Carl was born in Billings in January, 1954, and that spring they moved back to the Ashland area where they worked and lived on ranches.

In 1956, when Carl was about two years old, they moved to Sheridan, Wyoming. Helen’s flair for socializing found a perfect venue in Sheridan. She held a number of positions there in retail clothing and jewelry. She loved it! Most summer weekends, she was entertaining at the family cabin in the Big Horns, prepping and serving big family meals to those she had invited and those who just showed up to say hi. All were welcomed.

In 1991, they sold their cabin and the house and moved to Laurel to be closer to their grandkids in Park City, Montana. Since grandkids are the most important, it was convenient that Carl and his wife Anne were also there, so it worked out well for everyone! In their free time not with grandkids, Helen and Austin helped Carl and Anne start out with a variety of livestock and gardening on 20 acres in Park City. Austin and Helen also stayed busy socializing with other relatives in the Billings area, new neighbors and new friends they made along the way, as well as keeping in touch with the Sheridan folks.

After Austin passed in 1996, Helen continued to live in the Laurel house until around 2001, when she downsized and moved into her home at Casa Village in Billings. She started working again, full-time at Montague Jewelry store, and stayed at it until she was 80 years old. She was 80 when she made her first (and only) visit to a foreign country (unless Canada counts) when she went to Ireland with Carl, Anne, and Emily. It was hard to keep up with her there, she was constantly starting up conversations and looking for music and dancing.

Helen was always seeking some kind of adventure or new activity and her interests blossomed in late mid-life. She started writing poetry and stories of her life, completing four books, which she took to the many cowboy poetry gatherings she attended across the western US and Canada between 1990 and 2010. She picked up a guitar and learned to play and was part of a fiddler’s group. She started to draw and paint and illustrated her own books. She competed in the Ms. Senior Montana contest and won. She started reading novels in later life, something she’d never done much as an adult. She became a crackerjack pinochle player, playing two to three times a week at one point. She continued dancing at the Heights VFW into her 90’s, and when she couldn’t dance, she just kept going to be with friends. It was very clear why she stayed in Billings and had a hard time leaving (despite many suggestions from her son to move to Helena). Her Billings friends were like family, sharing meals and good times and appreciating Helen’s company. .

Our thanks to the staff and folks at WestPark Village, where she lived the past two years before moving to Helena. We cannot say enough to express our gratitude for the wonderful caring people who helped her there when we were unable to be closer.

She was known to some as “Stacey Sue” and to some as “the regular” at the dance hall, card table or fashion boutique. To a special few she was known as wife, Mother, and Go-Go Gram. We are sad to see her go, but she was so loved by family and friends. What can be better than that in life?

Helen is survived by her son Carl and his wife Anne Cossitt, grandchildren Travis Cossitt (wife Krysta) and Emily (Cossitt) Startin (husband Taylor Blaine), and great grandchildren Marilynn and Austine Cossitt and Zoey and Nolan Startin.

A Celebration of Life Gathering will be held Saturday, April 20, 2-4pm at Lake Hills Clubhouse at 1930 Clubhouse Way in Billings, Montana. She will be interred next to her husband at the Sheridan, Wyoming cemetery. Honorary pallbearers identified by Helen are: Zach Rohrer, Parker Rohrer, Frank Cossitt, Vernon Cossitt, Pat Vaughn, and Jim Poitra.

In lieu of flowers, you may commemorate Helen with donations in her behalf to the Range Riders Museum in Miles City or the Heights VFW Post 6774, 637 Anchor Drive, Billings, MT 59105.

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May 18, 1931-February 26, 2024




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In Loving Memory Of

Helen Cossitt

May 18, 1931-February 26, 2024




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