Shirley Kiehl Rikala

Shirley Kiehl Rikala passed away peacefully, Nov. 21, surrounded by family at Valle Vista Nursing Home. Shirley was born Feb. 2, 1930 to Charles J. and Mirth (Winnett) Kiehl at the family home at their ranch near Winnett. Shirley, the middle child, was raised with her older brother and younger sister on the family ranch. Shirley had fond memories of time spent riding horseback with her dad who affectionately called her “sister.” During her youth, the family lived in California for a couple years, an experience Shirley enjoyed. The Kiehls returned to their home in Montana where Shirley finished school, graduating from Winnett High School.

Following graduation, Shirley moved to Denver briefly and then New York City where she attended the Barbizon School of Modeling. Shirley worked at Macy’s and modeled while she lived in New York City.  Next, Shirley lived in Kennebunkport, Maine working in resorts during the summer months and spending winters working at resorts in Florida.

Shirley returned to Winnett where she met the love of her life, Norman Rikala. The two were married on June 5, 1957 at the Methodist Church in Lewistown. Norman and Shirley enjoyed 59 years together.  During their early years, they lived in several states, following the construction company for which Norman worked. While living in Nebraska, their family grew with the birth of two sons.  In 1965, they returned to Central Montana, making Lewistown their permanent home.

Shirley enjoyed sculpting and discovered that she had quite a talent for art. A photo of a calf, which her dad had sent to her when she lived in New York City, later became one of her favorite sculpted pieces. Shirley had a flair for interior design and used her creativity to beautifully decorate their home. Shirley and Norm loved to work in their yard. The bare, sloping hillside on which they built their home served as a blank canvas and the two of them enjoyed every minute they spent working to landscape the yard, making it look like a park. They included a special area for their two dogs, which Shirley considered part of the family.

Throughout the years, Sundays were special days for the Rikala family. Shirley, a wonderful cook and baker, would pack a picnic lunch for her family, and Norm would drive them to a perfect spot; Shirley loved Alaska Bench, and the family would dine in the splendor of the great outdoors. It was a time of family togetherness and sharing, whether in conversation or enjoying the serenity.

In addition to enjoying reading, Shirley loved books of all kinds, a good story or a book with wonderful photos sparked Shirley’s artistic imagination, which led to beautiful and varied pieces of art.

Shirley is survived by her sons, Ward (Jennifer), and Dale (Deitre); sister Mirth Peterson; grandchildren Lance (Kacey), Ryan (Jamie) and Kamron; great grandchildren Gage Nerdin and William.

Shirley was preceded in death by her husband Norman, parents and brother.

Cremation has taken place with a family memorial to be held at a later date.



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