Birdell Corinne “Birdie” Lien passed away peacefully on May 30, 2018 in Billings at the age of 92. She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota to Ben and Clara (Johnson) Holte. In the spring of 1928 the Holtes returned to Clara’s homestead claim and began farming north of Poplar, Montana. Birdie and her sister Marlys spent their summers in the tarpaper “shack” on the farm, and winters in Poplar where they attended school.
While Birdie was in high school, Orphey “Bud” Lien of Brockton flew his Piper Cub airplane to Poplar to pick her up for the Senior prom in Brockton. Afterwards, he flew her back to Poplar on a still, moonlit night. Birdie also obtained her pilot’s license a few years later, but soon exchanged dare-devilry for raising children and making a home.
Bud and Birdie were married in 1951 and spent the first years of their marriage in Phoenix, where they owned a Bireley’s soda pop plant. Daughters Karen and Linda were born during this time. The lure of farming was too strong for these two, and they returned to Montana in the mid-50s, began farming wheat, and built a house near the Poplar River, where daughters Barbara and LeAnn were added to the family. Over the years, they worked hard and bought more farmland instead of splurging on vacations or luxuries — typical Norwegians, both of them.
Contentment seems to be the word to describe Birdie’s life. She had few regrets, no enemies, and few aspirations to be bigger, better or richer. Her position in life as loving daughter, wife and mother was the pinnacle of success in her estimation. She had a calm, common-sense, positive attitude towards life. She loved the home and the farm that she and her husband had created. Summers on the farm often involved dawn-to-dusk work, while winters could be slow and seemingly endless. “Sitting around” was only done in the winter. Birdie excelled at cooking, sewing, gardening, and all the other skills required of a farm wife and mother. Typical of the “Greatest Generation,” she would “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
Birdie was a quiet, private person with a small circle of loyal lifetime friends, many of whom were high school classmates or family members. She is survived by her sister Marlys (Wes) Parmenter of Phoenix, AZ; double-cousin Dale “Buddy” (Phyllis) Holte of Hayden, ID; four daughters, Karen (Scott) Fleener of Poplar, MT; Linda of Billings, MT; Barbara of Whitehall, MT; LeAnn of Loon Lake, WA; and many nieces and nephews. Her four grandchildren, Eric, Woody, Katie, and Ben Sukut, added many joys to her life. Her beloved dog Cooper will be rewarded with the best of care for all the years that he served as her faithful companion.