Grace Baker Larson was born in Hot Springs, Montana in 1940. A midwife assisted with her delivery. She grew up on a large sheep ranch where she learned to do all kinds of work. This prepared her to undertake jobs that, in the 1970’s, were usually filled by men. Grace loved horses and riding. She would frequently ride 8 miles to Polson, across the hill, tie her horse behind the Theatre, and watch the movie. She would ride home afterwards arriving in the middle of the night.
Grace has worn many different hats. She owned and operated a Day Care Center in Minnesota. Supporting her 5 children was not easy so she learned to paint and became a Journeyman Painter, a job that paid a decent wage. Grace missed Montana every day of the 13 years she lived in Minnesota. When she was able to move back to Montana she “ kissed the ground” ;she was home.
She was able to find jobs as a self employed painter and house cleaner. But when the opportunity came up to work in the woods Grace took it. She skidded logs with a Pettybone skidder and was able to skid 200 logs a day. It did take her 2 hours longer than it took the men to skid that many logs, but she loved the work and delighted in the smell of the timber.
In the 1970’s, in spite of her fear of stepping into a man’s world, she found work as a painter working for large construction companies. Grace had always been self employed so this was a big, scary step. She also worked for the Anaconda Company, and was the first woman hired in the trades in Anaconda Company history. When the Anaconda Company’s Arbitor Plant shut down she went to work for a private contractor in Butte as his foreman. While working in Butte she also sandblasted the large combustion pit for the MHD generating plant. After her work in Butte ended she went to work at the Montana State Prison at Deer Lodge. She was hired as the inmate paint crew supervisor and had as many as 11 inmates on her crew. The wages were low in comparison to what the Anaconda Company paid, so when a job for a painter came up at the Anaconda Company Smelter she took it.
The Anaconda Company was shut down permanently in 1980. Grace decided to go to college and became a Chemical Dependency Counselor. She started Adult Children of Alcoholics groups finding that “turning back to the list”, and working through resentments, as noted in the Big Book of AA helped clients maintain sobriety. Grace retired from counseling in 2002.
After Grace retired from counseling she and her husband raised horses, and she also sold horses for others over the internet. She was able to sell horses for their owners throughout the United States, Canada, and even to The Netherlands, and Israel.
Camping trips to the Big Horn Mountains with their horses were frequent. New foals and the smell of sagebrush are what Grace misses the most now that she has retired and moved to Kalispell. Her husband, the “Love Of Her Life” passed away in December of 2013.
Not wanting her Grandparent’s history to be lost , she wrote her first published book, An Immigrant A Homesteader And Sheep. That was published in 2014. A second book about her beloved husband entitled Once In A Lifetime Comes A Man was published in 2015. When Grace was in college she had completed a manuscript, a true story of one of the men on her crew when she worked at the prison. She reread the manuscript and that book, The Making Of A Con will be out soon. Another book she is working on now is for children. It is a true story about Bum Lambs .
The house Grace was born in, 1940
Hot Springs, Montana
Pal and Grace - 1943
Grace and Rickie, 1953