Obituary: Shirley Mae Scanga Pratt

Posted at 12:36 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2018-08-10 11:28:39-04

On August 28, 2017, Shirley Mae Scanga Pratt succumbed to the side effects of the continuing strokes which she suffered since her original stroke on March 21, 2001.  The warm, loving, classy, feisty and tireless little Italian is now in heaven making certain that everyone has the very best food and always eating more (mangia, mangia). 

  Shirley was the first child born to Dominick and Mary Gasbarro Scanga and arrived in Poncha Springs, Colorado, on April 19, 1931.  The world was never the same when Shirley was around – she brought enormous energy, life and laughter to every place she went, despite her small stature.  Shirley married Robert (Bob) Pratt on August 27, 1950, in Poncha Springs.  They began an interesting life – moving to many states as Bob continued his career with Phillips Petroleum.  Shirley loved Elvis, rock and roll and fast, black cars.  Bob often mentioned that even their first car was black. She enjoyed hosting friends at wonderful dinner parties, going off road in the Colorado mountains, driving to visit friends and family (she always loved a good road trip).

Shirley and Bob welcomed three (3) children, Janice, William (“Bill”) and James (“Jim”), in three different locales, as they continued their career with Phillips. In 1965 the Pratts were transferred to Cut Bank, Montana, where Shirley’s wish that the children all finish school in one place was finally realized.

Shirley was always interested in helping other people and once she settled in Cut Bank she helped start the Pink Lady program at the local hospital, volunteered tirelessly at the nursing home and fed anyone and everyone who happened to wander through her house.  She operated the Four Winds Restaurant in Cut Bank for many years and loved making certain that all her customers had wonderful and interesting food selections.  She always offered to take a carload of kids to the local basketball games in surrounding communities or to tournaments around the state. 

In 1977 Shirley relocated to Helena to work at St. Peter’s Hospital and help care for her daughter’s children while Janice attended college.  She remained in Helena for many years working at St. Peter’s Hospital and then starting a catering business.  She made many real and true friends while in Helena and loved and valued them all.

After the death of both her parents, she decided to return to the “home place” in Salida, Colorado.  She loved being back in the old house with the huge yard, fruit trees planted by her father and the large, wonderful garden that her father started and she continued and expanded.  She was always on the move, mowing the yard, weeding the garden, taking off for trips to the old mining towns around Salida (often dragging along any unsuspecting friend who happened to be around).  She still loved fast, black cars and enjoyed jumping in the car to visit the kids and grandkids in Montana, Colorado, and Arizona, and a really good pro football game, especially her Raiders. 

Shirley suffered a massive stoke in March 2001, which left her paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak, but that didn’t stop the little Italian from still finding friends and much joy in life.  She spent 2 months at a rehab facility in Denver and then relocated to Mountain View Healthcare Center in Bozeman, Montana, to be near her daughter, Janice, and her family.  She still loved getting her hair done, going out to eat, shopping and participating in many family events, including the family reunion for Bob’s family held in Bozeman the summer of 2001.  She greatly enjoyed seeing all of the in-laws and enjoyed the stories, laughter and food.  Even though Shirley could no longer communicate with speech, she was able to “talk” with you through her facial expressions and hand gestures.  Her daughter often said that if you had to have a stroke you should be Italian since all Italians talk with our hands anyway.

Although she fought back from ongoing strokes over the last 16 years, her poor little body just could not keep up the fight.  Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Dominick and Mary Scanga; her husband, Bob; her great-granddaughter, Maria Elizabeth Rauser; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Shirley is survived by her daughter, Janice K. Whetstone (Ron Seher) of Bozeman, Montana; son, William J. Pratt of Bozeman, Montana; son, James M. Pratt (Pamela) of Phoenix, Arizona; grandchildren – Erin M. Rauser (Jeremy) of Belgrade, Montana; Ryan Whetstone of Bozeman, Montana; Alissa White, Ryan White, Merry Caro and Savannah Pratt of Phoenix, Arizona; great-grandchildren, Kayla Thompson and Catelyn (“Catie”) Whetstone of Bozeman, Montana; brother, Joe Scanga (Peg) of Nathrop, Colorado; sister, Kathleen Givens (Dennis) and their children and grandchildren of Turlock, California; and her good, longtime friends, Earl Ebert and Mike and Charley Phelps from Helena who would often make the trek to Bozeman to have lunch with Shirley.   Shirley loved spending time with Kayla and Catie from the time they were each born.  They would sit and try to teach her to talk as they began learning to talk and always enjoyed coloring with “GiGi” when they were out for lunch.  She also loved all the staff that took such wonderful care of her at Mountain View.  She would never have had such a fulfilled life and made it this long with their constant, loving care.

Mom, none of us would be the people we are without your wonderful love and guidance.  We will miss you always but know that you are already arranging a great BIG party in Heaven, having a great visit with Grandma Mary and cooking up some wonderful food for everyone.

The family wants to especially recognize all the Mountain View staff (past and present), Dr. Fuller, Dr. Fairbanks, Dr. Hickman, Dr. Pearson, Dr. Chisdak and their nurses and staff, and her hair stylists, Teresa Diercks and Nancy Roys, for always treating Shirley so wonderfully, always engaging with her and talking to her and not at her.  The family also appreciates all the staff of Rocky Mountain Hospice (especially Matt) who have helped care for Shirley.  Janice also wants to thank all of the many hosts, wait staff, employees of local businesses and total strangers who would see her struggling to get Shirley and her wheelchair though a restaurant or shop door and run to help – Shirley always knew about good service in the restaurant business and they both appreciate the wonderful people of Bozeman who went out of their way to help both of them over the last 16 years.

Memorials in Shirley’s name can be made to the Gallatin County Food Bank, P. O. Box 1129, Bozeman, Montana 59771-1129 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

A Rosary will be held at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 and a Vigil & Remembrance will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 – both at Dokken Nelson Funeral Service and the funeral mass will be held at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Bozeman, Montana at 10:00 o’clock on September 6, 2017. 

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Services.