Fulkerson - Stevenson Funeral Home It's all about saying goodbye. Springan - Stevenson Funeral Home
Fulkerson - Stevenson Funeral Home
Springan - Stevenson Funeral Home
It's all about saying goodbye.
Thérèse Dominica Bidégaray
October 16, 1930 - January 6, 2022

Place of Birth: Ahaxe, France
Residence: Sidney, Montana
Age: 91



Thérèse Dominica Françoise Bidegaray was born to Jean and Catherine (Partarrieu) Ithurbide on October 16, 1930, in Ahaxe, France, in the Pyrenees Mountains along the border of France and Spain (Euskadi—The Basque Country), as the second of seven children. She was fortunate to be selected to get a Catholic School education, ultimately earning her teaching degree. She taught for seven years, first in Ossès, and then in Hasparren. On February 15, 1958, at the age of 27, she married Bert Bidegaray who had returned to France for a few-month visit after living and working in eastern Montana for the previous seven years. Soon after the wedding, the new couple arrived in eastern Montana where Thérèse (Mom) experienced her first brutal winter. Living 42 miles from Sidney, not knowing the language, did not impede her from making the best of it. Mom learned English by listening to the radio and voraciously reading the books she anticipated receiving from the various Book-of-the Month clubs to which she subscribed.

In her first year in Montana, Mom survived the loss of her first child, the loss of Dad’s uncle John Sallaberry on whose place she and Dad were living, and the loss of her father in France. Mom, who had not spent much time cooking in France, mastered it and spent the next 36 years preparing countless meals for her family, hired help, and drop-ins on the farm and 20 more years doing the same in town. In addition to the many meals she cooked, Mom made bread and soup almost daily. In the summers, she raised a large garden and beautified the yard with flowers in each flower bed, not an easy feat in the often-dry, almost-always windy eastern Montana climate. Throughout the year, Mom sewed and knitted. She was very creative as she often used her sewing and knitting skills to make things without a pattern. One year, she knitted each of her daughters a coat for Easter. Mom was always put together, poised, and classy. She had fingernails that could rival those of any fingernail model, always manicured and painted. Marlin, from The Lodge, came to the house and did Mom’s make-up and nails the afternoon before she died, and Mom lit up!

After losing their first child, Mom and Dad had six children. Largely influenced by their Basque heritage, they raised their children to be strong, hard-working, independent-thinking individuals. Mom felt fortunate to see that her children were also raising their children to be the same. Being so far from her birth family, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were her world.

Mom was only 53 when Dad died. She continued to live on the farm for another 10 years, five and one-half of them as an empty nester. Before he died, Dad had built an in-door swimming pool at the farmhouse. Mom used that space for many community gatherings and for her and many neighbors to learn to swim, all of which gave her great joy. Mom loved to play cards, especially Pinochle, and looked forward to card parties. She loved her friends and neighbors in the Elmdale, Mona, and Charlie Creek communities.

In 1994, Mom moved into Sidney, where she made new friends with her neighbors and others. Mom took up painting with oils and watercolor and was so prolific with her art that almost every child and grandchild has some of her original work. Mom enjoyed cheering for her children and grandchildren as they participated in sports and other extra-curricular activities. She also enjoyed watching college and professional sports. Mom especially enjoyed the NBA, mostly watching Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Steph Curry. She had a Steph Curry jersey and lived to see him break the three-point shot record!

Mom was a life-long Catholic, formed by the values and morals of her family and her Catholic education, which was instrumental in the way she reared her children, all of whom carry on those values and morals. Mom said more than one rosary each day, even to the last days of her life. In all situations, Mom advocated for the underdog, wanting to make the world a better place for all. Consistent with that philosophy, she purchased a stained-glass window for St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, depicting the Rich Man and Lazarus. Mom had a razor-sharp intellect, believed in education, and encouraged it in every way. She kept apprised of world news, reading the paper daily. Mom looked forward to completing the daily newspaper crossword puzzle. She wanted to keep her mind sharp. Despite her age, Mom used the internet and social media like a pro. Mom’s iPad was a window to the world. When Mom first came to Montana, she had to wait months for communications from her family; in the last years of her life, Mom marveled that she was able to communicate by Skype daily with her siblings in France. Having survived occupied France during World War II, Mom had strong political views that she was not afraid to share.

Mom died on the morning of January 6, 2022. She is survived by her six children: Kathy Bidegaray ((and her children, Brett Irigoin (Samantha), Jacqueline Stensland (Jaren), Dominique Irigoin (Sven), Danielle Irigoin (Leo), and Alex Irigoin (Erica)); Michele Bidegaray ((and her children, Bert Certain (LeeAnn), Courtney Certain, and Patrick Certain)); Debbie Berry (Phil) (and their children, Camille Berry, Grant Berry, and Jack Berry); Beverly Anderson (Dave) (and their children, Garret Anderson, Mason Anderson, and Olivia Anderson); Daniel Bidegaray (and his sons, Nicholas Bidegaray, Andre Bidegaray, and Dominic Bidegaray); and Mary Bidegaray (David) (and their children, Netsanet Kim, Tigist Kim, and Mimi Kim). She is also survived by her siblings, Felix Ithurbide, Andre Ithurbide, Marthe Heguy, Jean Leon Ithurbide (Maite); seven great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Bert Bidegaray; her son, D. Bidegaray; her sister, Mayi Palacio; her brother, Joseph Ithurbide; and numerous in-laws.

Thank you to The Lodge staff where Mom resided the last six years.

Memorial Contribution
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to: Maryknoll, Emmaus House, St. Joseph’s Indian School, St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School, or your favorite charity.

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Dennis Heck (Bismarck, ND)
Jan 10, 2022
My condolences to the family. I have but fond memories of riding along and delivering gas to the Bidegaray farm with my Dad. Truly an inspirational family and loving mother.
LEROY SCHMITZ (STEVENSVILLE, MT)
Jan 10, 2022
Working for Bert and Therese in 1983 and 84 were two of the most enjoyable years I can remember.
My favorite memory of Therese was when she would cook up delicious...and large.. supper meals every day and then say to me, "Finish it up". At first I tried but quickly realized that failure at that wasn't a bad thing.
I have always planned on traveling over when Therese passed but unfortunately some family things will prevent that.
I can echo everything that was said about her...and her kids. They had a great Mom...and Dad.
Violet Tharp
Jan 10, 2022
Eddy Vaira remembers Bert very well. Reading this clears in my head about Sallaberry that he would talk about. I thought he was saying the name incorrectly. He tells me many stories of them. I remember Therese being that classy lady who came in to shop at JCPenneys, she spoke in French many times with you girls. She was a beautiful lady.
Emily Hoff (Sidney, Montana)
Jan 10, 2022
My heart hurts for your loss of your wonderful Mom. It is so hard to lose someone who was a big part of your everyday lives, I miss mine everyday. I so enjoyed visiting with Therese when I would visit her for communion, we had some wonderful conversations and I will cherish them always. Sending lots of hugs and prayers. May she rest in peace knowing her family and friends loved her so much.
Elda Gabrielson (Sidney, Mt)
Jan 11, 2022
My sincere sympathy in the loss of Terese. Her infectious spirit was such a role model for her family, friends, and the community! She will be missed and remembered as a special lady!
Charlene (Vaira) Netzer (Sidney, Montana)
Jan 11, 2022
A number of years ago when I had a milk cow, Therese came over and showed me how to make cheese from the milk. She was so kind .Sorry for your loss, she was a classy lady.
Doreen Vair-Herbert (Glasgow, MT)
Jan 11, 2022
So sorry about your loss. May you find comfort in your family and friends during this difficult time. Thoughts and prayers with you all.
Sandi Angel (Sidney, Montana)
Jan 12, 2022
Kathy, I am so very sorry for your loss!! I know how hard it is to lose your parents and especially your mother. Please know that she is resting with the Lord after living such an extraordinary life. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time--Sandi
Cliff & Pam Torgerson (Dagmar, MT)
Jan 12, 2022
We send our sincere sympathies on the loss of your mother. We will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers as you mourn her passing.
Sharon and Jim Nelson (Billings, Montana)
Jan 12, 2022
Dear Family, we loved visiting with your Mom on the way out of church. Those brief visits showed us what a dynamic mother you have. May she rest in the peace of the Lord.
Mitch Tihista (Sidney, MT)
Jan 12, 2022
I’ve known your mother Theres for many years. She had an infectious smile that we will all miss! My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Linda (Fink) Cornell (Billings, My. )
Jan 14, 2022
Kathy and family, your mom was such a gracious lady. She always had a smile. When I would go to visit dad when he was at the Lodge, your mom would be in the lobby reading the paper and I would stop and visit with her. She would always ask after my family. My sincere condolences to you all.
Kari Skedsvold (Portland, OR)
Jan 15, 2022
So many memories of beautiful Therese, her laugh, accent, cooking, cheese in the basement, knitting, painted nails, smile. RIP beautiful woman, sister, wife, mother. Bless her children.
Annabelle M. Heiser (Helena, MT)
Jan 15, 2022
What a wonderful, well lived life! You have such precious memories to tide you over till you meet again.
Laura Christoffersen
Jan 19, 2022
Kathy and family, Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers - your mom must have been a "force of nature" to successfully raise such a fabulous family!
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