Lillian Evangeline (Eggen) Frasier passed away of natural causes at her home in Billings, MT where she resided with her daughter Lyla for nineteen years. Lillian was 102 years of age and was being comforted by Lyla at the time of her death. She was known for her beautiful smile and endless energy.
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She was born April 27, 1917 to homesteaders Tillie (Lee) Eggen and John Eggen at their ranch home, South of Archer, MT. (twelve miles West of Plentywood, MT). Lillian was Baptized and Confirmed at the Archer Lutheran Church. At the age of eleven, she started playing the “pedal pump organ” for the church services-- until it was mysteriously stolen. She played her cherished upright piano well into her 90’s.
Lillian grew up on the J Bar E Ranch outside Plentywood, MT--which has this interesting history that Lillian loved to proudly share, as follows: In 1898 her father’s sister Mollie and husband Andrew Fadness, owned a ranch which adjoined their land (John and Tillie Eggen’s). After Andrew’s unexpected death at 49, Lillian’s Aunt Mollie realized she could not manage the ranch by herself, as she was raising two young daughters. Mollie asked John and Tillie to buy the Fadness Ranch--which they did, and thereafter, this combined acreage became the J Bar E Ranch in 1921. At this time, Lillian was age four, her brother Joseph, seven, and Eugene, six. The ranch then had 500 head of cattle and 400 horses. Horses were in demand in that era so they were shipped, and sold to farmers, mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota. At an early age, the Eggen children learned about hard work on a place they loved. Lillian loved horses, riding in search of orphaned calves, herding horses, going to get the mail were just a few of her many jobs. Her horse was a Hamiltonian Stallion named “Red”, and “Red” would only let Lillian ride him! Today this cattle ranch covers thousands of acres, and after five generations is owned by Lillian’s nephew, Arvid Eggen, his wife Linda and their family. At the ranch, the original barn, built in 1908, is still beautifully maintained and in use. Lillian told her family that she milked a lot of cows in there.
At the age of five, Lillian and her brothers attended the country one room “Lee School”. They walked the four miles to and from the ranch, creating many fun and interesting stories.
During her teen years, the drought and depression of the 1930’s changed their lives. The Eggen family temporarily moved to John Eggen’s other farm he had near Grygla, MN. They would travel back and forth to check on their MT property. They worked and resided in MN until the economy got better and the “Dirty Thirties” in Montana ended. As the times got better, the family moved back to the J Bar E Ranch. In the meantime, Lillian attended four different high schools: Outlook, MT; Goodrich, MN; Mahnomen, MN; and Plentywood, MT. While in Mahnomen, MN, she lived with her Aunt Mollie Fadness, who moved back there after selling the Fadness Ranch. Lillian graduated from Plentywood High School in 1934 and was chosen as the first “Homecoming Queen” of PHS. While in school her father would take the family on week-ends to the Plentywood Orpheum Movie Theater. This is where she first noticed a handsome, young, blue eyed man, Frank Frasier--who would become her husband. In 1935 she graduated from the Minot North Dakota School of Beauty Culture and at the age of 18, her parents helped her buy a Beauty Shop in Culbertson, MT-- where she worked until another change came. Her father became ill and passed away at age 54, forcing her mother, Tillie, to run the ranch alone. With her brother Joseph in the Military Service and her brother Eugene married and on his own ranch, Lillian sold her shop and returned to the J Bar E Ranch to help her mother.
After a brief courtship, Lillian married Frank Frasier, December 29, 1940 in the Archer, MT Lutheran Church. Lillian and Frank both worked on the ranch until Joseph returned from the Army. Joseph then purchased the ranch from his mother.
Shortly after her marriage, Lillian obtained her Pilot’s License-- training and flying Open Cock-Pit Piper Cubs. She loved flying and enjoyed “Barnstorming”. Frank did not approve of this risky hobby and asked her to stop flying and she agreed. They moved to Bremerton, WA for a brief time, where she worked as a hairdresser at Ward’s Beauty Shop and Frank worked in the Naval Shipyards. When they moved back to Plentywood, they purchased the Elmer Gooder Dray Line which was the local community’s moving, trucking, and delivery service. Later they developed the first sanitation department for Plentywood and in the early 1950’s they developed a gravel pit providing sand and gravel for commercial use. They also contracted with the Great Northern Railroad Company to haul freight from the depot to area businesses. They had contracts with numerous oil drilling companies to deliver bagged bentonite to the rigs throughout Eastern to Central MT and North Dakota. Their Big Horn Coal Company became the largest independent coal dealership for Montana. All of their businesses were eventually joined into one company called “The City Dray Line”. Lillian was the bookkeeper for all of these services and their three daughters were the monthly bill collectors. During this time Lillian continued to work, keeping her Beauty Operator and Manager’s License for over fifty years. Lillian was well known as the best hairdresser in the area!
Lillian and Frank had three daughters: Janet Marlene, Rosann Jo and Lyla Fay. Lillian was an amazing wife and mother--the family always came first. She was an awesome cook and baker having fresh homemade treats for the girls every day after school.
She was a member of the Plentywood Lutheran Church, Golden Valley Ladies Aid, a Charter Member of the Sheridan County Saddle Club, the Rock Hound Club, and the Montana Bowling Association (winning many State bowling awards). Lillian and Frank moved to Billings, MT in 1988. Frank passed away December 7, 1991. Lillian maintained their home until 2000 when she and her daughter moved into their new home, where she resided until her death.
Lillian is preceded in death by her parents, Tillie and John Eggen; husband Frank; brothers Joseph and Eugene Eggen; sister-in-laws Kathrine (Kolar) Eggen; Dorothy (Ersness) Eggen; and nephew Donald Eggen. Surviving family members are her three daughters: Janet (Kermit) Luttschwager, Billings, MT; Rosann Jo Frasier (Michael Sklarz), Honolulu, HI; Lyla Frasier, Billings,
MT; granddaughter Jolee (Chris) Gust and great grandchildren, Parker and Paige, Aurora, CO; nephews: Arvid (Linda) Eggen, Plentywood, MT; and Terry Eggen, Kalispell, MT.; nieces: Joanne (Eggen) Berry, Vida, MT; and Linda (Eggen)(Ed) Shackleford, Plentywood, MT. Being an avid animal lover, several pets were also an important part of Lillian’s long and happy life. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her.