Erma Bear

GREAT FALLS — Erma was born on July 13, 1927, at Little Warm, MT, to Richard and Carrie Snell, and went to be with her Lord on Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Great Falls, MT, at the age of 94.

Erma worked in Chinook, MT before moving to Butte, MT, where she met and married Benjamin George “Benny” Bear, Sr. They lived in various places including Butte, Missoula, Dillon, and Virginia City, as he worked in the mines, and she worked different jobs. They moved to Fort Belknap in 1956 where they farmed and ranched in the Milk River Valley for many years. 

After Benny died in 1972, Erma moved to Harlem.

Erma and Benny had five children together: Charlie Bear, Margaret “Margie” Plumage, Benjamin George “Westy” “House” Bear, Jr., Thomas Medicine Bear, and Wesley Medicine Bear.

Erma completed her CHR training in Tuscan, AZ, then worked in the Fort Belknap community for many years.

After that, she attended the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in Bozeman, MT and graduated on August 15, 1980. She was proud to be the first female officer on the Fort Belknap Police Force.

Erma moved to Moses Lake, WA for some time, but, eventually, returned to the Harlem/Fort Belknap area, where she lived out the rest of her life.

Erma enjoyed many hobbies including gardening, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, and sewing, but spending time with her family was the most important part of her life.

Erma was preceded in death by her husband, Benjamin George “Benny” Bear, Sr.; a son, Benjamin George “Westy” “House” Bear, Jr.; stepdaughters, Winona Quirk, Maybyl “Bitsy” Medicine Bear Avery, and Florence “Tiny” Medicine Bear; a granddaughter, Patricia Velmarie Bear, two great-granddaughters, Vanessa Ann Plumage and Olivia Elizabeth Marie Bear; her parents, Richard and Carrie Snell; and six brothers and five sisters.

Erma is survived by three sons, Charlie Bear, Thomas Medicine Bear, and Wesley Medicine Bear, and one daughter, Margaret “Margie” Plumage, one stepdaughter, Edna “Blue” Miller, an adopted son, Douglas Stewart, 18 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, one sister, Mary “Millie” Missey, and many nieces and nephews.

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