Jane Iona Lewis died July 3rd, 2020, from a head injury she sustained in a biking accident a week prior. She was born June 1, 1957 to Clayton and Marilyn (Webb) Slipher in Frankfort, Indiana. Jane graduated from Western High School in Kokomo, Indiana in 1975 and Flathead Valley Community College in 1984.
Always the adventurer, she was off to Montana on the back of a motorcycle with Carl Osborne. They took up residence in the North Fork, near Blankenship Bridge, where they would build a home and live a life of outdoor adventures for 13 years. During this time, Jane worked as a buyer at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. Jane always smiled when she talked about their life together and the many friendships they made in the North Fork.
In 1990, Jane sustained a severe head injury after a fall from a horse. She was very brave and fought hard to recover, having to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, write, and take care of herself. It would take several years of hard work, but she would recover enough to resume her life and despite a permanent disability, would go on to become a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified advanced cycling instructor, substitute teacher, highway construction flagger, and seasonal firefighter.
Jane married Craig Lewis in 1995 and had two sons, Nick and Joe. The boys became her main focus and the pride of her life’s work until her death. She taught them the code of the cowboy; honesty, integrity, and manners. She taught them to be independent and caring, and to never quit, which shines through in them as young adults. Jane co-owned and worked hard with her family on the 52 Ranch in Dawson County in Eastern Montana for many years. As a ranch wife, Jane was saddled up for round-ups and branding, and also spent time training the ranch dogs and cooking for crowds. She was an excellent horsewoman and rode a million miles on her beloved horse, Bo. Jane and Bo were like peas and carrots. Their bond was tight and their trust in each other, undeniable. She was always so proud that she and Bo were able to participate in the Great 1989 Centennial Cattle Drive. As well, she enjoyed taking back country fishing and hunting trips on horseback with her husband and boys into the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier Park throughout the years. In 2017 Jane put ranching life behind her and returned to the Flathead Valley with her favorite border collie, Ellie.
Jane loved to ski. She regained her ability to ski after her head injury with help from The Dream Program at Big Mountain. She then taught her boys to ski and spent as much time as would allow with them on the slopes. Jane also coordinated the Slipher family ski trip to Montana every January for almost 30 people. She looked forward to that event all year.
Jane loved to laugh and was a champion at sarcasm as her many friends will testify to. She enjoyed canning food, and bringing homemade soup to someone that was ill, or shoveling a driveway for someone elderly. She would always help someone in need without question, no matter what the deed. Jane volunteered at the Heart Locker, and KRMC in her last years. People she worked with, and her friends and family, will remember her carrot cake cream cheese cookies as one of the things they will miss about Jane.
More than anything, Jane loved to ride her bike. Despite a balance problem she made many long bike rides with friends over the years. The fact that Jane died doing what she loved, despite a disability, is a testament to not letting the hardships of life stop you from working at and finding a way do what makes you truly happy.
Jane was a loving, loyal, fiercely independent, strong, and determined woman with a courageous spirit that will be missed by many. Saddle up, Shut up, and Hang on are words she lived and died by. She has left her mark on the world and will not be forgotten.
She is survived by her two sons, Nicholas and Joseph Lewis, mother in Kokomo, IN, two brothers and two sisters in Indiana, one brother in Colorado, her handsome horse Gunnar, and dog Ellie. Preceding her in death were a father, stepfather and her sweet, loyal horse Bo.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, July 17, 2020 at 1 PM at Darlington Cremation and Burial Service.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jane Iona Lewis, please visit our floral store.