Bessie Lee Gilkison was born November 21, 1940, in Gillette, Wyoming, to her parents Clarence E. and Mamie Ross Gilkison. She passed away on August 18, 2017, in Rapid City, South Dakota. She was 76 years of age.
Bessie was the oldest of five children. She lived in Gillette until she was five years old, at which time the family moved to Oregon, living first in Hood River and then settling in Oakridge. She attended schools in Oakridge for 11 years.
In 1958 the family returned to Wyoming. She graduated in 1959 as Valedictorian of Sundance High School.
She married Jerold D. Russell. The family lived in Wyoming and South Dakota. They later divorced.
Bessie was a very talented lady who enjoyed doing all types of handicrafts, tatting, knitting, crocheting, quilting, painting, and ceramics. She owned her own ceramics shop at one time.
She also enjoyed reading, gardening and watching Bob Ross on television. Using his techniques, she created many beautiful paintings.
After her children were mostly grown, she returned to college where she earned her business certificate. She worked in medical records, as a legal secretary, book keeper, cashier, and collections officer.
Bessie was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She was preceded in death by her parents, ex-husband, one sister-in-law, two infant nephews and a great-granddaughter.
She is survived by her children, Colleen (Robert) Goodart, David Russell, Gerilee Russell, Kerry (Wayne) Rettinghouse, Wendy (Jack) Fall, Ross (Julie Richards) Russell and Keith (Amber Tolentino) Russell; sisters, Rosie Cooley and Clara Varner and brothers C. Everett Gilkison and Boise Gilkison. She is also survived by 30 grandchildren and 42 (soon to be 44) great-grandchildren.
Interment will be at Boyd Cemetery, Four Corners, Wyoming.
Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com