In memory of

Isobelle Manley, age 88 of Helena

June 9, 1928 – May 6, 2017

Isobelle Gene Manley, age 88, died of natural causes on May 6, 2017, in Helena, Montana. She was born in Wallace, Idaho, on June 9, 1928, the youngest, and third, child of Emeline A. (Wilkes) Phelan and George B. Phelan.

Isobelle was raised in Osburn, Idaho, and had two brothers, Donald G. and Gordon L. Phelan. Her father worked in the local mines, generally as an assayer. She attended grade school in Osburn and high school in Kellogg. Her father passed away in 1944 in Kingston, Arizona, where he had gone because of a lung ailment. Both of her brothers entered the Marine Corps shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Isobelle graduated at the top of her high school class in 1946. That fall she continued her education at the University of Idaho where she had a small scholarship and studied chemistry. She worked as a waitress at Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone Park during the summer of 1947, when she met Philip Martin Manley of Pony, Montana, who had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Isobelle and Phil married in Bozeman, Montana, on February 15, 1948, and lived on a small ranch near Pony that was owned by Phil’s parents. They stayed there almost three years, and during that time had two sons, Philip M. Jr. and Lyle Robert Manley. In late 1950, the family moved to Long Beach, CA. where Phil worked for Douglas Aircraft. A daughter, Jeanette Emily was born in Long Beach in 1954.

They returned to Pony in June 1959 and then to Bozeman at the beginning of the school year. When Isobelle was able, she attended classes at Montana State University. While she mostly studied the sciences, she was also interested in history and literature and read widely in many disciplines. In August of 1967, Phil received a promotion and the family moved to Great Falls, MT. Isobelle continued taking classes as time allowed at the College of Great Falls. After her children were raised she earned a bachelor’s degree in science and began working as a medical technologist at a laboratory in Great Falls.

Phil and Isobelle moved to Port Townsend, WA, in 1981, where they enjoyed their sailboat, often sailing to the San Juan Islands and beyond with family and friends . Later, they sold the sailboat and bought an RV. They traveled extensively, including trips across Canada to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as extended trips to Mexico, the eastern U.S. and Texas. When time allowed, Isobelle worked at the Port Townsend Public Library. In 1996, Phil and Isobelle traveled around the world on a German container ship. They returned to Montana in April 2005. Phil died in Helena on January 5, 2014. Isobelle continued to live in Helena until her passing.

She is survived by Philip, Jr. (Gloria Morgan) of Billings and Lyle (Anna Miller) of Helena, and her daughter Jeanette (John) Williams of Somers, MT. She left four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.   A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 24th at the Covenant United Methodist Church.  There will also be a celebration of her life sometime this summer at Pony, where the ashes of Philip and Isobelle will be interred at the Pony Graveyard.  Donations may be made on Isobelle’s behalf to the Pony Homecoming Club, PO Box 654, Pony, MT 59747, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.


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  1. Jim Rector says:

    Sorry to hear of your mothers passing, sounds like she had a very colorful and interesting life. Now I understand you a lot more. condolences to you and your family.

  2. LaToya Johnson says:

    I would like to express my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Isobelle Manley. I am truly sorry for the lost that your family is feeling. Experiencing the lost of a beloved family member is one of the hardest thing that any of us can go thru. And because of that my thoughts and prayers are with your family. Take comfort in knowing that God never intent for us to deal with sickness or death. But have assure in the wonderful promises that God holds out to us. He promise each of us that very soon he is going to reunite us back with all those loved ones that we have lost. (John 5:28,29) Until that time, cherish all the wonderful memories that you have of Mrs. Isobelle. These precious memories will console the family in the day’s ahead.

  3. Beverly Lamb Shelton says:

    I have so many fond memories of Isobelle from her time at the Port Townsend Library. She was the go-to person for obscure facts about science, history, literature and so much more. She was calm, wise and had a great sense of humor–all valued attributes to our sometimes frenetic library days.

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