Dr. Nancy Lee Etchart, 54, of Helena, died Friday, July 26, 2013, after surviving the effects of brain cancer for 33 years.
Her life will be celebrated at a reception in Helena at Eagle’s Manor on Sunday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m .; a funeral service will be held at St. Raphael’s Church in Glasgow on Monday, Aug. 5, at 3 p.m ., and there will be a video biography of her life shown at Yellowstone Country Club in Billings on Friday, Aug. 16, from 5-7 p.m.
She was born on Jan. 31, 1959, to Mitchel and Donna Lee Etchart in Glasgow, where the family ranched. She was the fourth child of five. She grew up in Glasgow, attending Saint Raphael’s Catholic School until transferring to the public school system after sixth grade. She was an outstanding student and graduated from Glasgow High School with honors in 1977. She participated in many extracurricular activities including track, golf, softball, cheerleading, and the annual staff.
After high school she attended MSU in Bozeman where she pursued a degree in zoology and qualified for a pilot’s license in her spare time. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1982, despite being diagnosed with brain cancer her junior year at the age of twenty-one. This diagnosis changed the course of her life.
In 1983 her next chapter in life took her to Southern California where she and three of her fellow Glasgow High classmates went to pursue graduate degrees. In 1985 she graduated with a master’s degree in general psychology from Pepperdine University. She moved to Santa Monica in 1986 and in 1989 was awarded a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. She became a licensed clinical psychologist and practiced in California, eventually returning to Montana to practice in Billings, Anaconda and Helena.
She fought cancer hard for the first five years after her diagnosis in 1980. She then enjoyed good health for 12 years, becoming ill again in 1997. She again fought hard and had several surgeries and recuperation periods in San Francisco, Billings and Glasgow before finally settling in Helena in 2000.
She continued to work as a psychologist and participated in many of the activities Helena offers, including becoming a very accomplished watercolor artist. She fully retired in 2005 and lived in Helena for the remainder of her life.
She was a role model, not just for cancer survivors, but for all who knew her. Her grace and positive attitude in the face of daunting health problems not only inspired everyone, she showed what determination, strength, and happiness is really about in life. She will never be forgotten.
Survivors include her parents, Mitch and Donna Lee Etchart, Danielle Anderson and her husband, Einar, and Paul Etchart and his wife, Barb, all of Glasgow, Rita Gallagher and her husband, Mitch, of Billings, and Paulette (Jon Satre) Etchart of Helena; many beloved nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins; and her great friend from childhood, Paula Dyba of Billings.
Memorials can be made to the American Cancer Society, the Holter Museum in Helena or the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena.