Emily L. Stonington (Hibbard)

"Just Do It!" That slogan easily depicts Emily's persona and life story. Emily Leigh Stonington Hibbard was born on January 12, 1947 in Oak Brook, Illinois to Oliver Gordon Stonington MD. and Catherine Davis Stonington. As the middle child with four siblings and a competitive family spirit, she always had a sibling around to test her skills. She was raised in Denver, Colorado. In those days one could ride horses for miles on the trails outside of Denver which she did with her brothers and friends, beginning her lifelong devotion to horses. Her family's passion for outdoor exploration and adventure nourished her love for the outdoors. Emily graduated from Bennington College in Vermont, and earned a Masters of Education at the University of California at Berkeley. With a desire to teach, she got a job as an Outward-Bound instructor in Colorado which further fueled her adventuresome character. Eventually, she brought her teaching skills to the classroom and become an elementary school teacher, ultimately spurring the idea to create the Bozeman Environmental Education Program. This program combined her love of teaching and passion for the environment. Her greatest teaching accomplishments however were as a mentor to many lucky women with whom she shared her sage advice and remained close friends with to the very end. Emily was a world traveler with a global mindset seeking to understand the issues and people of the places she visited. In 1974 she backpacked 45 miles from Norway to Finland. And then on her honeymoon (which included her brother and sister) in 2004 she skied the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. In the "just do it" spirit, Emily learned to kayak by running the full length of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. Not bad for a training run! While traveling, Emily had a knack and determination at finding the best swimming holes to go skinny dipping and fortunately, never got fined or busted by ranch hands. She and Chase loved Paris having found their favorite hotel and bakeries to satisfy her craving for croissants, lattes, beef tartare and Chase's love of fine wine. Other memorable travel included a magical trip to South Africa, Namibia and the Okavango Delta, plus fabulous ski trips to Mistaya Lodge in Canada and to Europe with a group of fellow Montanans. And the good fortune to travel to China as guests of the US Ambassador. Emily moved to Bozeman in 1978 immersing herself in the community. Not usually domestic, she sewed an 18' tipi with a Singer sewing machine where she lived for 18 months while overseeing the construction of her home in Kelly Canyon. Her career evolved becoming the director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, the operations manager of the Patagonia Mail Order facility in Bozeman, two terms in the Montana House of Representatives (one as minority leader) and one term in the Montana State Senate. While in office she served as the Chair of the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WHICHE). Emily was an advocate of community service. Due to her great persuasiveness, many people found themselves going door to door for her political campaigns or recruited to serve on boards. Her "just do it" philosophy had a ripple effect into good citizenship. Emily served on the boards of the Outdoor Science School, Human Resources Development Council, High Country News, Montana Conservation Corps, Davidson Trust, and the Montana History Foundation. While serving as a legislator, she crossed party lines, falling in love and eventually marrying Chase Hibbard. Emily became a participatory partner on his family ranch embracing the demands of a large-scale operation. With Chase's patience, and Emily's curious mind, she dove deep into understanding ranch management, finances, and the unpredictable impacts of Mother Nature. Emily focused on the sheep and learned to train and work with her beloved border collies. Chase secretly hoped he could re-incarnate as one of Emily's dogs. She brushed up on her Spanish and engaged with the South American and Mexican workers. Throughout her life, Emily always had a dog at her side and horses waiting to ride. Chase and Emily had a fabulous partnership nourishing each other's intellect, challenging each other's political views, testing each other's athletic and competitive spirits, and supporting each other to be engaged citizens. By looking into Emily's big blue eyes, you could detect the depth and complexity of her character. The sparkle evoked adventure, love, tenacity, competitiveness, impulsiveness, and compassion. Emily was a risk taker as an athlete, in marriage, business, politics, investing, and in friendships. That meant she was also willing to be vulnerable. Emily was not afraid to confront the "elephant in the room." Her crucial conversations went to the heart of many matters even during her last days on earth. Forget the small talk, she wanted meaningful conversations. We loved Emily for the whole package, which meant accepting her talent for acting first and asking for forgiveness later. That trait created many memorable stories including buying a horse at an auction without a horse trailer or check book. Emily had a great gift of connecting people and creating friendships. Most importantly, Emily was an optimist. At end of life, she accepted the last "just do it" with grace and mental strength. During her previous marriage, Emily adopted her ex-husband's two children Erik and Natalie, who provided her the opportunity to navigate parenthood, growing personally from those inevitable parental challenges. Natalie and Emily's relationship evolved into a deep friendship with Natalie being a critical companion and caregiver during her entire illness. Emily took great pride and pleasure in her five grandchildren, finding and building on areas of common interest with each. Emily died on June 26th, 2019 from complications of pneumonia and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Emily is survived by her husband Chase Hibbard, daughter Natalie Wysocki (Kevin), her grandchildren Tate, Gianna and Georgia Wysocki, stepchildren Tyler (Heather) Hibbard and Marshall Hibbard (Terah) and step grandchildren James and Laine Hibbard. She is also survived by her siblings Dave, Gordo, Pete, and Jani Stonington, nieces and nephews, and an amazing and diverse network of friends. She was preceded in death by her son Erik Swanson. A service celebrating Emily's life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, July 12th at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. A reception will follow the celebration of life in the social hall of the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Montana History Foundation at 1750 N. Washington St. Helena, MT 59601. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer the family a condolence or share a memory of Emily. Emily Stonington (Hibbard) L. Stonington (Hibbard)