Born and raised in Anaconda MT, Peggy Ruth was the fourth and youngest child of William Henry Casto and Marie (Marcille) Casto. Her sisters Blanche Permoda, Jean Schoen, and brother William (Bill) Casto preceded her in death. Peg graduated from Anaconda High School, first attending college at the University of Montana. Upon her father’s death, she and her family moved to Ann Arbor Michigan. She worked as a secretary in a dentist’s office, and studied at the University of Michigan.

In 1946, the humble, raven-haired beauty met a handsome, garrulous, skinny Navy veteran from Bozeman who was earning his law degree at the University of Michigan. They were introduced at church by another Montanan who had an inkling that Peg’s eventual husband, the late Joseph B. Gary, would take a fancy to her. He did, and it was mutual. Thus, began a great love and family-raising expedition. Peg and Joe married in Ann Arbor on Sept 11, 1948, and remained married for 63 years, until his death. They moved to Bozeman in 1949, where he achieved excellence in his career, eventually becoming District Court Judge. She achieved excellence in hers too, becoming an extraordinary mother of five, grandmother of 14, and a loving companion to Joe and to her many friends. A low-ball estimate is that she prepared somewhere around 60,000 meals in those 63 years, and never saw a stain she couldn’t get out.

Her children – Marie, Joan, Brian, Brett, and Mark – are quite sure they never once went to school in clothing that wasn’t ironed. They came home to delicious meals, beds with crisp clean sheets, and got to live in a house meant to be lived and played in. She showed her love in so many ways. Food was surely one of them. There is some family contestation over which food was her masterwork: her chicken soup, apple sauce, freshly baked bread, French onion soup, cinnamon rolls, and the crème de menthe and pumpkin pies that topped off her holiday dinners all vied for top spot. For the grandkids, no contest: Grammie’s chocolate chip cookies.

Peg was a devout Roman Catholic, so industriousness was a moral duty, and her trademark raised eyebrow let the transgressor know when she or he had crossed some well-understood line. But her Catholicism proved flexible, as she and Joe raised “spirited” kids known for occasional hijinks, who were easily forgiven. Along with her abundant maternal love, Peg had a quick wit, an easy laugh, and Joe loved her for her sense of humor as much as for her kindness and doting attention to family. We watched that good humor and love poured into her 14 grandchildren. Peg felt blessed to have them, and they felt the same about their Grammie. Ryan, Megan, Mollie, Shea, Will, Erin, Anna, Julia, Joey, Annabelle, Ruby, Rachel, Connor, and Laurel could each claim to be their Grammie’s favorite. Each was. Her daughters and son in law felt the same, and Lisa, Mark, Amy, and Diane have all been enveloped by Peg’s love. So have her great grandchildren: Kayla, Avery, Matia, Dakota, and Gracie.

Peg was a community person too. She loved the company of her friends, and she and Joe had them in droves. Together with friends they puzzled over raising kids, devoted themselves to Bozeman, played bridge, golfed, danced and dined at Riverside, vacationed, and cheered for the Bobcats through thick and thin. Peg was a longtime member of Resurrection Parish and spent many years making lunches for college students on Friday afternoons. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels, at the Food Pantry, for the Bozeman Opera, and was a member of the mysterious women’s organization PEO.

Peg was unfailingly polite, loyal, gracious, immaculately turned out, and iron-willed. At the end of her life she could still rise to the occasion – dancing for hours at age 92 at her grandson’s wedding, and staying up until well past midnight this summer when we celebrated her 95 birthday. Lipstick in tow, hair done just so, white sweater and pants spotless, she was still a beauty with an easy laugh, surrounded by her kids and nieces and nephews. But life at 95 was hard too, and when she expired on Thursday we were relieved to know that our dear mother and grandmother’s time had come, and her soul has taken flight into the great mystery beyond, in search of her dear Joseph. We are quite sure he’s been waiting for all these seven years. They had a great love.