Harriet L. (Collins) Whearty, 90, who was one of the first Montana women to be ordained as an elder in the Presbyterian Church, died Thursday, May 15, 2014, nine days after suffering a massive stroke at her home in Billings.
She was born Jan. 8, 1924, to Carrie and Francis M. Collins in Topeka, Kan. She learned piano from her mother. As a senior at Topeka High School, she was judged to be among the top student trumpeters in Kansas.
She played in the high school marching band and fell in love with the drum major, Raymond Whearty. They were married on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1946, at Oakland Presbyterian Church.
They worked in Pueblo, Colo., and in 1949 moved to Billings. Mrs. Whearty was a homemaker most of her life and volunteered for the Cub Scouts, Brownie Scouts and Girl Scouts. She gave her free time as activity director for two area nursing homes before finding her niche as her church’s secretary.
She was active in the Presbyterian Church her entire life. On April 21, 1963, as a member of First Presbyterian Church, she was among the first Montana women to be ordained an elder. In 1969 she became a charter member of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. She was also a mainstay of the church quilting guild, which donated more than 200 handmade quilts for homeless shelters.
Survivors include her husband; three sons, Steven Whearty of Centralia, Wash., David Whearty of Billings and Bruce Whearty of Louisville, Ky.; and three additional generations of descendants.
Services were pending. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be given to St. Andrew Church, United Way, Red Cross, Food Bank or Habitat for Humanity.