October 18, 2023
Dorothy Ann (Molvig) Kolstad peacefully passed away early on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, at St John's assisted living facility in Billings, Mont.
Ms. Kolstad lived 90 years. She started her life journey on April 16, 1933, in the Glasgow Hospital. She grew up outside of Glasgow in Tampico, Mont., where her father and mother, Chris and Agnes Molvig, carved out a farm and ranch from the dusty prairie. Her father, who had a clever sense of humor, naturally referred to his first child as Dusty all his life.
Dorothy's parents raised eight kids in a three-bedroom, one bath home in Tampico. Dorothy Ann was the first to arrive, followed by Carol, Robert, Charles, Alyce, Donna, Kenny, and Rick. With 10 family members living in a small house it was crowded, but their mother Agnes taught them that family was always the most important thing to remember. The eight children never forgot this family commitment and gathered every summer for decades.
Ms. Kolstad proudly attended Montana State University, graduating in 1955 with a teaching degree. She moved back to Glasgow, married John Kolstad, and began her teaching career. She never missed a single day of school during her first 33 years in front of classrooms. She had a brief hiatus from teaching while bearing her children, but always returned to what she loved doing, teaching youth. She had 45 years of teaching service in Glasgow.
While the term "legendary teacher" is overused these days, it fits Ms. Kolstad – or Ms. K as her students called her. Ms. K had that special gift of being able to connect with students. She taught three generations of most families in Glasgow. Everywhere she went in Glasgow, she would run into people she had taught and would say hello to and inquire about how they were doing.
Dorothy felt a responsibility to all the students that she taught. She earned a special place in heaven for her work with young girls during her teaching career. She never spoke a word about all the times she helped girls through difficult times until years after she was done teaching, but we now know she was one person that those girls could always count on to be there for them. Ms. K did not judge. When we finally learned about all she did for them years later, we asked her why she did it. Her answer was simple: they needed help, so she helped. A true profile in courage is what it was.
The one thing that trumped teaching was her care for her three boys: Jere, Gary and Perry. It would be an understatement to say they were a handful, but she dealt with them with patience, love, and humor. She could not have been a better mom.
Her grandchildren became her priority as time passed. She loved it when they started showing up in the summer for a couple of weeks without parents. Her grandkids – Tessa, Lucas, Dylan, Kalynn and Lauren – grew into adults and presented her with five great-grandchildren.
During her lifetime she remained very connected to her mother's and father's relatives including the Molvigs, Nelsons, Kirklands, Flesjers, Kolstads and Norwegian families. They were all very supportive of Dorothy throughout her life and especially at the end.
What we will remember forever about her was that she "cared" for people. Whether she was born with the caring gene, or if her mother's deep commitment to helping people in the community was where it came from, she lived her life helping others.
She was also very sociable and had fun. She loved bridge and played with her "gaggle" of women for 50 years. She belonged to book clubs her whole life. She judged at the county fairs in the northeast corner of Montana. Her work on the Museum was fun and wonderful for the community. She was very active in 4-H all her life. Sundays usually started with services at the Lutheran Church, visiting with the attendees, and followed with family get togethers. Coffee, church, and company!
Dorothy's last few years were spent in what we all consider to be the world's greatest assisted living facility: St. John's United in Billings. It made her proud that St. John's began when a humble group of 31 Lutheran church leaders founded it in 1958. She spent her last five years there and the people there made sure she had a wonderful last years of life. For the first time in her life, she did not have to cook!
The family cannot thank the CNAs, the Nurses, the Doctors, and the staff of St. John's enough for making her life joyous those last five years. Special thanks must go out to the Tracy families too for their support during her years in Billings.
For all of us left behind, our grief is high, but we also have tears of joy that we were fortunate enough to know her. Nevertheless, losing such an incredible, caring person is hard and we will miss her.
We would love to see you and hear your stories about Mom at the Lutheran church in Glasgow on October the 28th, 2 p.m., when we hold a celebration of her life.