Mary Ellen McIntosh Ramlow passed away at her home on Sunday afternoon, October 29, just one month before her 93rd birthday. She was born in Lewistown, Montana, on Thanksgiving Day of 1924 to John and Helen (Bruce) McIntosh, and grew up on a wheat ranch near Denton. Her education began in the White Arrow School, a one-room country school (her horse as transportation), and continued through Fergus County High School. She graduated in 1946 with a degree in Home Economics and American Literature from Montana State University. Her first teaching position was at Libby High School where she met and married Howard Keel in 1947. Howard passed away after only a year of marriage and Mary Ellen moved to Whitefish to teach high school home economics and English.
She met Russ Ramlow in 1948 when he collided into her parked car as he drove home from an early-morning duck hunt. Their marriage lasted 62 years, but she never did trust his driving. Together they owned and managed the Coast-to-Coast hardware store in downtown Whitefish for nearly 30 years. She participated in a variety of activities including bookkeeper at the store, member of a bowling team, election judge, and church treasurer. She enjoyed cooking, entertaining, and sewing, and put her skills to good use as a homemaker and seamstress, making matching coats and dresses for herself and her daughters. She enjoyed traveling, especially to visit family. A highlight of her travels was a trip to England and Scotland where she found the row house in Glasgow where her mother had lived.
Mary Ellen’s daughter Judy Neer, her husband Russ, her brother Bill, and two grandsons, John Pemble and David Pemble all predeceased her. Her son Jim and his wife Alma live in Whitefish. Their sons are Bruce of Whitefish and Hugh of Washington, DC. Judy’s children are Janelle Reinbold of Davenport, Iowa, Jeff Neer of Oakes, North Dakota, and Gina Ehrlin of West Fargo, North Dakota. Mary Ellen’s daughter Joan and her husband Ed Pemble live in Caldwell, Idaho. Their sons are Mark and Scott, both of Caldwell. Her sister Betty Sperry lives in Seal Beach, California and her sister-in-law Babe McIntosh lives in Denton, Montana. Seven children call Mary Ellen “great-grandma.”
Mary Ellen was grateful for the care and concern of her family, who always made her feel wanted and needed. She said, “My family made me the person I became.” Her family is especially grateful for the assistance of Frontier Hospice in Mary Ellen’s final week.
The Whitefish First Presbyterian Church invites family and friends to a memorial service for Mary Ellen at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 3. Memorial gifts may be sent to support the Presbyterian Women’s Ministries or to the St Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana.
Austin Funeral home is caring for Mary Ellen’s family.