Sharlon Linda Willows

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Sharlon Linda Willows

Birthplace: Hungry Horse, Flathead County, Montana, United States
Death: May 09, 2002 (54)
Creston, Flathead County, Montana, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of James Lake Willows and Laverne Olga Willows
Sister of Private; Private and Private

Managed by: Tamás Flinn Caldwell-Gilbert
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sharlon Linda Willows

Sharlon Linda Willows

CRESTON - Sharlon Linda Willows, longtime Montana environmental activist and consultant, passed away at the home of her sister, Bonni Quist, on Thursday, May 9, 2002, in Creston. She died a good death - with great courage, gazing over the wonder of the mountains and valleys that she had worked so hard in her life to protect, at peace in her faith, fully supported by the love and admiration of her family, her friends and her beloved daughter, Willow Dean.

Sharlon was born the oldest of four children during the wild early dam construction days of Hungry Horse to James and Laverne Willows on March 22, 1948.

The Willows home was the second home built in the town of Hungry Horse and Sharlon spent her childhood picking berries, swimming in Lion Lake and working at the family business, Willows Honeyberry Farm.

The '50s were a time of wonder for a child growing up near the mountains of Glacier Park in Montana. Grizzly bears and wolverines still wandered through the back yards of homes in Hungry Horse and the eagles arrived each fall by the hundreds to fish the spawning salmon at Apgar. It was during these early wondrous years in Glacier that Sharlon first developed her lifelong passion for preserving the wild places of Montana. She had the vision to realize that without protection and planning, the wild and scenic beauty of this land we hold so dear would soon be gone.

Sharlon attended schools in Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls and graduated with honors from the University of Montana with degrees in history and political science. She continued her education in Denver, becoming a licensed paralegal which enabled her to work as an environmental legal consultant.

During the '70s, Sharlon received her teaching credentials and opened the first private kindergarten and grade school in Hungry Horse. She will always be remembered for her varied curriculum and her innovative teaching style. She not only taught the basics but included Spanish, yoga, sewing, creative writing, drama and art in her weekly curriculum. Students remember the deep reverence for nature that was always a part of Sharlon. They learned to honor the earth by recycling and protecting all natural resources, and above all, they learned to appreciate the wonder that is Montana.

Sharlon was known for her vision, her tenacity and her unerring dedication to the environment. She will be remembered for her work preserving the old-growth timber at Avalanche Campground as well as her work protecting the elk wintering grounds and grizzly bear denning areas in Glacier National Park.

She worked on protecting the wild and scenic rivers, particularly, preventing a proposed housing development on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. She was an advocate of preserving the integrity and historic values of the park, especially the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. She also worked diligently with the highway department to develop a modest design for the highway leading up to Glacier Park and just before her death, she was actively involved in helping develop a highway design to save the historic Berne Memorial Park in the canyon.

Sharlon was a great supporter of the Native peoples in the state, working tirelessly with the Blackfeet, Kootenai and Salish tribes on land issues and, in particular, working to stop mining and preserve the Sweet Grass Hills as sacred ceremonial grounds for all Native peoples.

Sharlon had a great love of music and dance and will always be remembered for her ability to lose herself in the joy of the moment while dancing.

She spent many summers hiking the trails of Glacier National Park as well as her beloved Columbia Mountain.

She had a strong faith in the afterlife and was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Columbia Falls as well as a member of her brother James Willows' weekly Bible study classes. She retained a great respect for people of all faiths and was particularly touched by the strong connection with the Creator that her many Blackfeet friends enjoyed.

She is survived by her daughter Willow Dean and her boyfriend, Kevin Miyamoto of Spokane; her beloved companion, Craig Thomas of Coram; her sister and brother-in-law, Bonni and Rob Quist and their children, Halladay of Creston and Guthrie Quist of Malibu, Calif.; her sister, Jamey Faun Willows, and her son Harley Hanks of Whitefish; her brother and sister-in-law, James and Jaekyung Willows and their children, Josiah, Ester and Abe of Columbia Heights; her father and his wife James and Gladys Willows of Malibu; and numerous other friends and supporters.

At Sharlon's request, there will be a celebration in honor of her life at 3 p.m. Saturday at Rob and Bonni Quist's Sweetwater Ranch in Creston. Friends and relatives are asked to bring a potluck dish and their musical instruments and be prepared to share in the festivities and Sharlon's love of dancing. There will be an open mic. If possible, guests are asked to bring a special written memory of Sharlon to be included in a book for her daughter Willow. The ranch is located 1.3 miles directly south of the Creston School at 581 Riverside Road. Directions can be found on the Web site,

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Coalition for Canyon Preservation, P.O. Box 422, Hungry Horse, MT 59919.

Friends and supporters of Sharlon's will be continuing her life's work.

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Sharlon Linda Willows's Timeline

March 22, 1948
Hungry Horse, Flathead County, Montana, United States
May 9, 2002
Age 54
Creston, Flathead County, Montana, United States