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Shirley Hillman Martin

Shirley Hillman Martin, a cherished mother, grandmother, and friend, peacefully passed away on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Helena, Mont., after a brave battle with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Shirley was born on Sept. 8, 1947, to R.E. "Bud" and Carrol Hillman in Glasgow, Mont. She grew up in Hinsdale, Mont., where her adventurous spirit led her to explore the countryside on horseback, fostering a lifelong love for horses. Her brother, David, remembers his sister as being full of "vim and vigor," always with a smile upon her face.

In August of 1965, Shirley married Doug Martin, her hometown sweetheart, in Hinsdale. They initially resided in Vandalia, Mont., until Doug's military service led them to South Carolina for his training before deployment to Vietnam. Shirley later returned to Montana.

In 1968, they welcomed their first son, Wade, followed by Jess in 1970. During the boys' early years, the family lived and worked on a ranch south of Malta, Mont. They then briefly managed the Stockman Bar in Malta before settling at the X Diamond Bar Ranch in Hall, Mont. Their youngest son, Clay, was born in 1977.

Shirley, with her adventurous spirit, introduced her boys to skiing. Wade fondly recalls her diligent efforts in burning weeds around their home-though, humorously, this once led to an accidental fire that consumed a nearby log cabin! The Martins resided on the Hall ranch until 1991 when they relocated to Winifred, Mont. They remained there until Clay graduated high school in 1995, before eventually returning to the Hi-Line.

Throughout their years on various ranches, Shirley's culinary prowess was renowned. She cooked for many hired hands and ensured that branding day was never short on help with her delicious short ribs and homemade BBQ sauce. Her butterscotch and lemon meringue pies became the stuff of legend.

Shirley was a pillar of her community, managing Hinsdale's only gas station, Raiders Quick Stop, for over 20 years. Her kindness and thoughtfulness touched everyone she encountered.

Throughout her life, Shirley's love extended beyond her family to her cherished dog, Jake, and all her grand dogs, nurturing a special bond with animals.

During her later years, Shirley faced Alzheimer's with grace and courage, supported by the compassionate staff at Edgewood Memory Care in Helena. The love and care she received from her family, friends, and caregivers provided comfort during her battle with this challenging illness.

Shirley leaves behind a legacy of warmth, kindness, and unwavering positivity. She will be remembered for her infectious spirit, her love of family, and her enduring impact on all who had the privilege of knowing her.

She is survived by her sons Wade (Lisa), of Hinsdale, Mont., Jess, of Drummond, Mont., and Clay (Ali), of Helena; her grandchildren, Scott Martin, Harper Martin, Bridger Martin and Tanner Theriault; her brothers, David and Gary Hillman, of Hinsdale; and  numerous nieces and nephews. Shirley was preceded in death by her parents; her sister Judy Allison; and her husband, Doug Martin.

Shirley's memory will live on through the stories shared by those she touched. May she rest in peace, knowing that her light will forever shine in our hearts.

A memorial service was held at 11 a.m., April 20, at the Hinsdale Lutheran Church with a reception following at the Hinsdale American Legion Hall.


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