In memory of

Mary Jane Davidson of Helena

January 14, 1926 – December 19, 2018

Mary Jane Davidson of Helena passed away on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, at the age of 92 following a brief illness. She will be remembered as a major benefactor of the arts having recently been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Holter Museum of Arts in Helena. She was also a major supporter of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena. One of the ceramic works in her personal collection was included in a recent showing of the work of Archie Bray Resident Artist Director, Steven Young Lee, at an exhibition of ceramic arts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. For many years she funded scholarships for student artists at the Bray Foundation as well as scholarships for students at Montana Tech in Butte. She was a 50-year member of PEO an educational charity.

Mary Jane Davidson was born in St Paul, Minnesota on January 14, 1926. She graduated from Johnson High School in St. Paul. She later graduated from the University of Minnesota with honors in physical therapy. She trained under Sister Elizabeth Kenny whose unconventional treatment for polio survivors led to today’s innovative rehabilitation therapy methods.

She married Dr. Jack Davidson in 1947. They first lived in Helena where Dr. Davidson was a physician at the VA hospital at Fort Harrison. Subsequently he established a medical practice in Butte where he and Mary Jane lived until they separated in 1995 at which time Mary Jane moved to Helena.

Mary Jane was an active skier and tennis player well into her eighties. She was a devoted follower of professional tennis great, Roger Federer, and often attended tournaments where he was playing.

Mary Jane is survived by her daughter, Karen Davidson (Steve Olson) of Bernice; son Griff Davidson (Kim) of Butte; granddaughter, Lacey Jayne Davidson of Big Timber; Harley Davidson (Amanda Duran) of Bozeman and her longtime friend, Ross Cannon of Helena. She is predeceased by her husband, Jack Davidson; a son William Owen Davidson and her parents, Edith and Henning Johnson.

A celebration of Mary’s life will be from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, January 19, 2019 at the Holter Museum of Art, 12 E. Lawrence Street, Helena. In lieu of flowers contributions in her name can be made to the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, 2915 County Club Avenue, Helena, MT 59602, the Holter Museum of Arts, 12 E. Lawrence Street, Helena, MT 59601 or the Butte Silver Bow Archives, 17 W. Quartz Street, Butte, MT 59701. Please visit below to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Mary Jane.


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

  1. Sue Jackson says

    We’ll so miss our vibrant, beautiful friend, an icon in our community. I thought she’d last forever and teach me everything she knew about the arts, fashion, and human relations. I hope there is an afterlife where she will light up yet another world. Love to MJ’s family and multitude of friends. Sue and Duane Jackson

  2. Robert Morgan says

    When she entered a room, she needn’t open her mouth. You knew you were in the presence of beauty, elegance and grace. Though small in stature, her warmth and exuberance stood tall. Her signature smile, blue eyes and blonde braid are forever etched in my memory. God speed MJD, you’ve left the world a brighter, lovelier place.

  3. Phyllis Lefohn says

    Mary Jane appeared in one of my qigong classes decades ago…and has been a bright ray of light ever since then :). She was a genuine, beautiful, classy woman who made the world a better place 🙂 Mary Jane – you are forever in my heart 🙂

  4. Susan Benedict says

    I accompanied Mary Jane on a number of trips to see Roger Federer and others play Tennis! Her companionship was some of the best I have ever experienced. She had a fabulous sense of humor and was much stronger than I was in the heat of center court. What a great friend and interesting person. I too wanted her to live forever!

  5. Mary Jane was truly a gentle woman. Smart, kind and generous. A shining example of a life well lived. Most of all I will miss her sparkling, warm and welcoming smile. My heart goes out to her family.

  6. Mary Ann George says

    I only know Mary Jane through her daughter, Karen. She must have been a loving and nurturing mother who guided her daughter throughout her life. Knowing Karen, I wish I had known Mary Jane. If you knew her, it was a gift…a gift to you and your life experiences. Having heard stories about Mary Jane, I assumed she would live forever. No one does, but some people just seem like they might. Mary Jane, you made a BIG footprint on the world. You gave us your children and their abilities to reach out to others…as friends. Thank you so much.

  7. Bonnie Frazier says

    Karen I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear mother. How well I remember her kindness to all of us “horsey” kids and her cheerful fashion advice when she was selling spirting goods. She will be missed for sure.

  8. Kelly Baraby says

    Lots Of Hugs Karen

  9. Kathy Hanson says

    Kathy Hanson says:
    Karen & Griff sad to hear about the passing of your mother. She was a truly good spirit and a wonderfully kind person. I worked at the Purple Moose many years ago and it was a brief but fun time. She will always be in our hearts.

  10. Mary Jane was one of a kind and always remained just her self, a great inspiration and joy in so many different worlds. I’m thankful that she was in my world, however peripherally. May her spirit always be with us. RIP. Condolences to Karen, another unique and wonderful woman, following her own path. Suzy

  11. Jennifer Loomis says

    I will miss Mary Jane’s radiant smile. She was a wonderful friend to my mother, Mary Anne. Through their friendship, she became my friend too. I think that is how it was with Mary Jane, once you met her, she was your friend for life.
    What a blessing you are Mary Jane!

  12. Amy Brakeman Livezey says

    Even at the age of 92, Mary Jane was eager to make friends. I was lucky to be one of those new ones, though I’ve experienced Mary Jane around Helena’s art world for years. In her brave and adventurous spirit, she had me paint a portrait of her this past fall. It was a gift for me to do, for sure.

  13. Concetta & Len Eckel says

    MJ played tennis with many of us, and we had so much fun. We missed her when she no longer could play, but we always could count on her to be active in the community in so many ways. Her support for the arts was unsurpassed. Her positive outlook and zest for life was something to be admired. She will be dearly missed. Our sincere condolences to her family.

  14. Fay Dee Hamilton says

    It was an honor and a privilege to have this incredible woman as my friend. She was elegant, funny, down to earth and loving and will be terribly missed. What wonderful trips we’ve taken and I am grateful for every moment she inspired me and graced my life. Deepest sympathy to you all.

  15. Diane McKeever Langenfus says

    Karen and Ross,
    I was so shocked to see this very sad news. I met her for the first time when we went to Peru to take on the three passes in the Andes mountains.Even in the midst of tent camping I remember she was the constant “Lady” in the group. Make-up and hair perfect, always positive when other’s were groaning. Seeing her bright smiling face at events allover Helena was always a welcome surprise. She was one of the best and she will be missed by many. My condolences to all the family.

  16. John & Vicki Sandford says

    Dear Griff, Kim & Family,

    Sorry about your loss. We remember meeting your mom. I think we were watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and she was with you guys. I remember how friendly she was. Our condolences. Take care.

  17. valerie hellermann says

    Mary Jane, such a bright star that lived among us. She will be missed

  18. Marcia Allen says

    I was so saddened by MJ’s loss. She was such an elegant and kind lady, and she lit up a room when she entered. I got to know her better when I sold her the condo in Touchstone. She was always excited for me to come see the changes she would make. I will miss her and her bright smile. I am sure you have many wonderful memories to share. My deepest sympathy to you.

  19. Ann Gilmore says

    Mary Jane and I met when serving on the St. Timothy’s Summer Music Festival board. What a lucky day for me. I loved her bright, thoughtful approach. I will miss Mary Jane, she was a good friend.

  20. Georgiana Ellis, Seattle says

    I met Mary Jane in a gathering room at Kennedy Airport en route to a dinosaur dig in Transylvania. It was the first of many trips, occasions, dinners, gatherings. She shines in my memory as a not too tall lady with a smile the size of Big Sky country, one of the kindest, energetic, generous people I have ever known. Like so very many, I was sure she would live to be at least as old as her mother was, and I shall miss her terribly.

  21. Williams Family says

    Condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your whole family. Psalms 147:3 says God, “heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.” May God bring you comfort and peace.

  22. Lisa Autio says

    I was shocked to learn of Mary Jane’s passing….spoke to her very recently. I still remember a funny incident of unloading a piece of sculpture from the trunk of my old Buick Riviera and lugging it into Mary Jane’s house to become a part of her wonderful art collection; this was 10 years ago.We then had a martini and many laughs…about everything. She will be missed and I extend my condolences to Karen and her family. She was well-loved by the art community – funny, vivacious, generous, and didn’t take anything too seriously.

  23. Beverly Beeton says

    MJ was a beautiful light in all our lives
    My thoughts are with her family and many friends.
    Warm Regards!

  24. Wanda Stout says

    Your mother was pure class and beauty inside and out, as are you. I know you’ll have that void in your life so I wish you well. Carry on in her footsteps and keep living your one of a kind life as she did.

  25. Pam Stodden Parisi says

    Karen, Griff and families,
    We were sad to see the passing of your mother. Remembering her during the 4H years and then the times we (my husband Gary was her plumber) would see her at events in Helena. Always a beautiful smile of greeting and catching up on family members. A wonderful lady to be sure. Sending our warmest thoughts for a life well lived.

  26. Sisi Carroll says

    I just learned of the passing of Mary Jane. I knew her from my time on the Helena Symphony board. She was a supporter of music, as well at visual arts. Mary Jane was such a bright light who touched so many people; it was always a joy to see her at at event events -she lit up every room. I am honored to have known her. I am sending my condolences to your family.

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