Charlene Rich

Charlene Rich, age 66, of Richey, formerly of Billings, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, at the Billings Clinic in Billings.

Charlene was born April 24, 1951 in Jordan, Montana, to Charles and Pohney Rich. She attended the Mosby and Calf Creek grade schools in Garfield County. Charlene graduated from Garfield County High School in 1968. She attended MSU Bozeman, then transferred to Macomb, Illinois, living with her Aunt Kay and Uncle Jack Hill while she attended Western Illinois University. She graduated in 1972 with a B.S. Later she returned to MSU Bozeman, graduating in 1986 with an M.S. in economics. She also did post-graduate work at Cornell University in 1988.

Charlene married John Garoutte while in Illinois. Together they had two sons, Brandon and Jay. They later divorced. She taught junior high school in Keokuk, Iowa from 1972-1981. She moved back to Lewistown, Montana with family in 1981, and went to work with Fergus County Extension from 1983-1992. She started with the Montana Beef Council as executive director from 1996-2012. At this time, she met Larry Switzer who would later become her husband.

Charlene and Larry married on May 11, 2012. She left the Beef Council in 2012. Charlene continued her involvement in the ag community with Northern Ag Network after leaving the Beef Council. She deeply enjoyed her positions at both the Beef Council and Northern Ag. She earned respect from people in the beef industry and maintains these relationships to this day.

Charlene was a member of the 4-H Club in both Mosby and Sand Springs, taking lambs and sewing. Later in life she started showing cutting horses with daughter-in-law Cindy Garoutte. She acquired a love for driving horses in 2000 when she got her draft horse, Mick. She drove horses for many years around home and in numerous parades and competitions, winning several awards. She encouraged her grandchildren to share her love of horses with her.

Charlene had great respect for her father and they shared a special bond. She loved the ranch at Sand Springs, spending lots of time there with her kids and family. She was also very grateful for Larry’s compassionate and loving care during her time of illness. Charlene has left a lasting impression on our hearts and she will be deeply missed by all.

She is survived by her husband Larry Switzer of Richey, Mont.; her mother Pohney Rich of Lewistown; son Brandon (Cindy) Garoutte, grandson Jace, of Columbus, Mont.; son Jay (Megan) Garoutte, granddaughters Carlynn and Loralee of Lewistown; stepsons: Tate (Dawn) Switzer, grandsons Koen and Tegan of Richey, Mont., Trey Switzer of Richey; step daughter Kaci (Seth) Jansma, granddaughter Seeli Rae of Fromberg, Mont.; sister Bonnie Jessen and son Cruz of Scottsdale, Ariz.; brothers Alvin (Denise) Rich of Nye, Mont. and Kenny (Linda) Rich of Sand Springs, Mont. and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her father, Charles Rich.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 13th Street W., Billings, Montana. Graveside services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Pioneer Cemetery in Jordan. Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home of Jordan is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.

Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch or the ALS Association.

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