Mary Natalie Smith Priebe

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Mary Natalie Smith Priebe died April 9 at home in Whitefish, Montana.

A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Natalie graduated from Charleston Catholic High School in 1961 and from West Virginia University in 1965.

She is survived by her husband, Alan Priebe, and children Gabriel Brooks Priebe, wife Lori of Helena and Genevieve Priebe of Seattle; two grandsons, Liam and Kellen.

Daughter of Robert Clifford Smith and Genevieve Rose Smith, Natalie grew up surrounded by her brother and three sisters: Robert C Smith III of Marlinton, West Virginia; G Louise Taggart of West Palm Beach, Florida; Carol Ann Smith Locascio of Gainesville, Florida and Therese Smith Cox of South Charleston, West Virginia. Natalie’s nieces and nephews are Ann Taggart of Hollywood, Florida; Todd Riggall of Naples, Florida; Heather Riggall Duque of Palm Harbor, Florida; Jordan M M Cox of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Genevieve R Cox of Bozeman, Montana.

Natalie moved to the Flathead Valley in 1973 to ski at Big Mountain and met and married her husband Al two years later. What followed was a life-long love of Whitefish, its history, and the community. Natalie’s proudest achievements, beyond being a mother and grandmother, were coordinating The Big Mountain’s 50th anniversary celebration and, 20 years later, contributing to the opening of the Valley’s first ski museum. Natalie was also very involved in her church, singing a reluctant soprano (when she’d been certain she was an alto) in the touring choir. She loved to learn, to read, to craft, to cook, to garden and to volunteer at the food bank. She was happiest when she was on the mountain on skis, though, and she leaves behind a community of people blessed to experience the passion she had for skiing over the last 50 years.

Natalie was a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend who will be deeply missed by many. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Flathead Ski Heritage Center Museum or the North Valley Food Bank.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 15, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Whitefish.

A luncheon will follow Mass at the church.

Austin Funeral Home in Whitefish is caring for the Priebe family.

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