In memory of

Gwen V. Williams, age 77, of Helena

November 9, 1936 – May 30, 2014

Gwen Violet Work Williams, wife, mother, volunteer activist, world traveler, and good friend, died May 30 in the presence of family. 

She was born November 9, 1936 in Wisconsin, to Harley and Violet Work, the third of four children.  Her family moved to East Helena when Gwen was in the fourth grade.  Gwen made lifelong friends during her school years in East Helena, and later high school years in Helena.  She excelled in academics and graduated from Helena High.   She fell in love with Byron Williams and they married in 1953.  Their marriage was blessed with the births of four daughters.  Gwen and Byron celebrated their 55th anniversary before his death in 2008.

Gwen spent many years as a stay at home mom, until their youngest child entered school.  She served as a Girl Scout Leader, Sunday School teacher, and youth group leader for countless children.  She then worked for MPS for a few years followed by many years at the Deaconess Home for Children (Intermountain).  She grew into the job of fund raising and development, which she loved.  She traveled throughout Montana and surrounding areas, giving talks to various churches and other groups.  She honed her photography skills taking pictures for the Deaconess.   She cared deeply about the children who lived at “The Deac.”.

Immediate and extended family were always important to Gwen.  In addition to raising her own children, she opened her home to many others over the years. 

The church was an enormous part of Gwen’s life from her early adulthood until her death.  She and Byron made St. Paul’s United Methodist their church home and brought their girls up in the church.  She served the church, and therefore the community, in many roles over the years. She did this because of her strong faith, and her belief in the role St. Paul’s has maintained in the Helena area, and the role that the United Methodist Church maintains in the world community. She went on several mission trips and after her retirement from the Deaconess Home, she served as the coordinator for the United Methodist Community On Relief.  She also did volunteer work at the Montana Talking Book Library, the Helena School District, the Montana National Guard Thrift Shop, and many more.

Gwen had an incurable travel bug.  She traveled with Byron, with friends, and by herself to many parts of this country, to South America and the Galapagos, to New Zealand, India, Africa, Vietnam, and Europe.  She made lovely friends wherever she traveled.

Gwen was preceded in death by her husband, Byron, her parents, and two brothers.  She is survived by her daughters, Denise Linjanen (Franz), Joyce Williams (Dan Dolmseth), Carla Williams (David Treadway), Jan Williams (Scott Smith), her brother, John Work, and  grandchildren, Nikki Lewis, Erika Nason, Senja Linjanen, Andrew Dolmseth, Aimee Dolmseth, Anneli Dolmseth, Abby Dolmseth, Alex Dolmseth, Whitney Treadway, Cal Treadway, Trenton Treadway, Dallas Williams-Smith, and one soon to be born great grandchild, her brother-in-law, Richard Williams, nieces and nephews, Alton Williams, Alan Williams, Arlene Eliason, Alice Anderson, Aaron Williams, Charles Work, Jessie Lesofski, Pam Abbs, and Niles Abbs.   She is also survived by so many dear friends.

Gwen’s last few years were marked by Alzheimer’s disease, and more recently breast cancer.  She remained feisty until the end.  Gwen’s family thanks Touchmark and Frontier Hospice for all the love they showed her these last months.  Donations can be made to the charity of your choice.  Cremation has taken place.

A Memorial Service will be held 11:00 a.m. Monday, June 9th at the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 512 Logan Street, with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall of the church. Burial will follow the reception at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery, Fort Harrison. Please visit below to offer condolences or share a memory of Gwen.


Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Linda Robbins & Paul Johnson says

    In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I bought our first home next door to Gwen and Byron. Their kindnesses to us were innumerable, but what i recall most vividly is the daily example they set. Love of family, service to community, treasuring of friends, the active practice of truly Christian principles — we were privileged to learn from their examples. What a good woman. What a good life.

  2. Teresa Graham says

    To the family of Gwen: I am so sorry for your loss. Gwen was a strong presence in my life through St. Paul’s as I raised my daughter as a single parent. She was a wonderful Sunday school teacher to my daughter Roni and had a positive influence on her as well. I have enjoyed seeing her at church over the years and feel blessed to have known her. I will miss her. God’s Blessings to all of you in this sad time and may God’s Grace be with you as you prepare to celebrate a life well lived. I will always have a special place in my heart for her and will remember her fondly. A person doesn’t get much better than Gwen.

  3. Patricia Forte' says

    Dear Denise, Joyce, Jan and Carla, John and Grandchildren,
    Oh, so many memories at the Williams house during my childhood and youth! Gwen always was good to me and I felt supported by her as a kid and an adult. I loved her wit and wisdom.
    Blessings to all of you as you are missing her, sharing memories and letting go.
    Love to you all,
    Patricia Forte (Patti Sheets)

  4. Cathy (Pullin) Kovich says

    To Gwen’s family,

    Your Mom was a wonderful woman who lived her life fully. She was a long-time member of a group of women and their husbands who have remained friends through frequent gatherings over the years. I, as one of the children, feel fortunate to have watched these relationships blossom and persevere through adulthood, raising children, sicknesses and now deaths. My heart goes out to you all in the loss of your mother. She is in the best of hands now and is reunited with Byron and others. Bless her journey. You remain in my thoughts and prayers as all the good memories replace the sorrow in the days to come.

  5. Salina Ernst and family says

    May The Lord hold you close and guide you all through the loss of Gwen. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. Claudia E. Thomas says

    If ever the saying, ‘our earthly loss is Heaven’s gain’, were to be held close to the heart … it is most applicable to this lovely woman! Gwen was ever giving and caring … her dedication to the kids at the Deac was unparalleled. She was always kind and as many years would pass between times that I would see her, she always remembered and embraced with that kindred spirit so prevalent in her. Soar with the angels Gwen!

  7. Bruce R. Chamberlain says

    Gwen was a tremendous ambassador for St. Paul’s and her faith during my formative years and I will never forget her endless patience and her smile that never faded. Although I haven’t been in contact with Gwen for some years, my memories of times spent with both her and Byron are as clear today as ever. They we both wonderful people, those who chose to lead by example and let their actions reflect their faith and love. I’m reminded of the immortal line from the Wizard of Oz when the Wizard tells the Tin Man it’s not how much we love, but how much we are loved by others. Both Gwen and Byron certainly fall into that category of those who were, “. . . loved by others,” me, included.

  8. Robin North says

    Condolences to your family.

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