LORRAINE “JAN” MORK Aug. 1, 1930 – Aug. 25, 2016
On Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, as the new day broke, Jan Mork arose as she always did and gave thanks for the day. Though her body was weak and tired, her spirit was in grateful appreciation for another day on Earth. She lived to love and cherish her husband and family, but was happy to leave when the Lord called her home. Jan passed away peacefully in her favorite chair while waiting in the morning sun for the arrival of her daughter.
Lorraine Janet Lees (Jan) was born the daughter of Nellie and Norman Lees in Ellendale, N.D., on Aug. 1, 1930, as the Great Depression and severe drought settled on the Dakota farming country. After her father’s death, Nellie, Jan and her brother Ernest left the withering farm and the family moved to town in Ellendale where Nellie taught at the North Dakota State Normal School. The loss of her father and the family farm was a difficult transition, one that was foundational to Jan’s resolute spirit.
Jan completed her primary and secondary education in Ellendale, and graduated from Jamestown College in 1951 with her teaching degree. She taught at a Park River high school for two years. During her college career in Jamestown, on a blind date, she met a dashing lad completing his pre-engineering studies at Jamestown College.
That dashing lad was Ray Mork, the love of her life. Ray and Jan were married on Sept. 1, 1953, after Ray completed his degree in structural engineering at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. The engineering life eventually took Ray and Jan to the bright lights of St Paul, Minn. It was in St. Paul the two became a family of nine with the birth of Colleen, Andy, Jeanne, Gail, Joyce, Jim and David.
While parenting this unruly pack, Jan met many wonderful friends for life. These folks formed the core of the bridge club that Jan and Ray spent many wonderful evenings with, sharing stories, music, dinner and dessert late into the evening. When hosted by Ray and Jan, the seven kids could hardly contain their enthusiasm for scavenging leftover desserts and bridge mix like crows at a dump on the morning after bridge club.
The bright lights of the big city eventually faded for Ray and Jan, so in 1967, Ray moved his engineering skills and his family to Billings. The family lived on Lohof Drive where they were graciously welcomed and built their home. It was a wonderful neighborhood in which to raise a family. Lohof Drive was a year-round hub of activity including impromptu neighborhood picnics and winter sledding parties. Playing Bridge with lifelong friends continued to be a favorite activity. Jan loved being a devoted fan at all her children’s school, church and scouting activities.
At this point Jan was mid-stride as Mom, feeding, washing clothes, cleaning, wiping noses and chauffeuring offspring from dawn to dusk. Somehow she found time to work as a substitute teacher and dorm monitor at Rocky Mountain College. In 1973, Jan became a Realtor, a career in residential real estate that lasted for over 40 years. She loved helping put happy families in happy homes, and was active in many Realtor activities. Jan worked as diligently for her real estate clients as she did for Ray and her family. She worked hard at this task, and everyone was proud of her accomplishments in this competitive market. She kept her real estate license active into her eighties, assisting many friends as they down-sized from big family homes to more comfortable, right-sized accommodations.
The transition to the right-size accommodations came for Ray and Jan in 2015, when they moved from their family home of 48 years to Aspen View. Their bright, sunny apartment was graced with many mementos of their life together, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the parade of beloved cats including Holly Belle, Oscar and Felix, and Callie.
Jan’s greatest gift was serving as a beacon of light through her unconditional love, care and faith. She encouraged us and showed us the path to improvement that made each of us better than we would have been without her loving guidance. She will always be our beloved Mother, Grandmother, anchor and safety net. She will be our personal angel hovering over us, encouraging us to do the right thing and be better people.
Ray and family move forward with peace and comfort in the knowledge that Jan is in the arms of her Heavenly Father, free to run, dance and smell the prairie wind again with all the joy, excitement and fulfillment of a life well spent.
Jan will be missed by her husband Ray, their children: Colleen (Amor) Yahyaoui, Andy (Kathleen), Jeanne (Randy) Pearson, Gail (Paul) Dotson, Joyce (Mike) Bondurant, Jim, David (Kim), her 15 treasured grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, her beloved cousin MaryKay McCurley, and many bridge-playing and Realtor friends.
Dahl Funeral Chapel in Billings is in charge of funeral arrangements. Cremation has taken place and a Vigil (Celebration of Life) will be at 7 p.m., Sept. 1, at Dahl Funeral Chapel. All who knew Jan are welcome and encouraged to attend and please feel free to wear blue as that was Jan’s favorite color. The Funeral Mass will be held at St. Pius Church at 11 a.m., Sept 2. Interment and luncheon will follow.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in memoriam to the Yellowstone Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Arle Lohof, Treasurer, 3005 Lohof Drive, Billings MT 59102.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.