Marlene A. (McAlear) Herreid passed gracefully with peace and love on January 23, 2020 in Spokane, WA in the loving care of her daughter at The Hospice House, where they made her transition warm and comforting. Poignantly, she waited until her daughter wasn’t alone and surprisingly passed just as her grandson and his father arrived to say goodbye. In a final act of love, she knew the pain would be too difficult for her daughter to bear alone, a testament to her commitment as a mother.
Marlene was born to Earl and Myrtle (Peek) McAlear in Polson, MT on November 19, 1939 and moved to Libby at the age of eight. Her early years were challenging, dealing with a medical condition that affected her entire life. Her condition did not define her; it enhanced her understanding and empathy of the misfortunes that befall many people. She was graduated from Libby High School and then attained a Teacher’s Degree from Eastern Montana College. She moved to Polson for her first teaching position and there met the love of her life and best friend, Dale Herreid. They married on December 23, 1960 and rarely spent time apart. Marlene taught in Libby MT, Nampa, ID and Ontario, OR where Dale completed his plumbing apprenticeship. They proudly introduced their son Dean in 1964 and daughter Loralee in 1967 and in 1969 the family returned to Libby. They shared many wonderful times with family and friends at the idyllic retreat they built on Upper Thompson Lake, where every friend was welcome. A big part of those wonderful times was playing cards; Marlene loved winning at “31”, and enjoying lake activities including slow dusk cruises listening to Don Williams.
In 1976, Marlene and Dale opened Libby Plumbing and Marlene learned a whole new language of “plumbing parts.” She helped many people who had no idea what the broken “thing” was in their hand and ensured they received the needed repair. She was active in her children’s school activities, volunteered to create costumes for the school plays and always stepped up to be room mother. In 1976 she started the girls’ softball Little League program, leaving a lasting legacy that influenced young lives. Marlene enjoyed camping when the children were young, arts and crafts, time spent in Yuma, AZ with their many friends and most recently, social media. Marlene was also a significant fixture at the Fisher River Volunteer Fire Department as the secretary/treasurer for ten years.
Marlene served on the Libby Public School Board for eight years. She was very proud to assist Mrs. Stanley birth the Sheltered Workshop, which was outside of the public school system. This program helps to teach life skills to young adults with learning disabilities. Marlene made room for everyone and would create space to embrace those who seemed out of step from the norm. People felt at ease around her because she wasn’t quick to pass judgment but, instead, sought to understand.
In 1988 she found her true calling when she successfully ran for the Lincoln County Justice of the Peace, a position she held for three terms. Her success as JP was due, in part; to her treating each case individually and striving to have the punishment fit the crime. Her heart was pulled by the lost ones, those less fortunate or those dealt a bad hand. She was extremely fair in the courtroom and believed most people deserved a second chance. She was admired in that role and wore her black robe with a statuesque manner that commanded respect. She was an esteemed member of the community and, to this day, people approach family members and give thanks for her assistance to turn their lives around.
She is preceded in death by her parents and brothers Dwayne, Larry and Richard. Sister-in-laws, Dorrene Darlington and Gayle Herreid and brother-in-law, Gene Rieben. She is survived by her husband, Dale Herreid at their family home in Libby; son, Dean (Vikki) Herreid of Libby; daughter Loralee Laramie of Spokane Valley; three grandsons whom she adored, Bridger Herreid, Walla Walla, WA; Tygan Herreid, Boise, ID; Tanner Laramie, Spokane Valley, WA. Brother-in-law, Lionel Herreid of Polson, MT and sisters-in-law Shirley Rieben, Redlands, CA; Juli McAlear, Dillon, MT; Shirley McAlear, Nampa, ID; and 21 nieces and nephews.
Services for Marlene will be 11:00 am Saturday, February 1st, 2020 at the Libby Methodist Church, 713 Main Avenue. Burial will be 11:00 am Monday, February 3rd at the Lakeview Cemetery in Polson, MT. Arrangements are by Schnackenberg Funeral Home in Libby.
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