Barbara Agnes Virginia Conrad Kegel
(mother of Debra Castor)
Mom died in Salt Lake City, UT on September 29, 2015. She was a beauty queen from Chinook, Montana, a farm girl born to Bertha and Jesse Conrad on February 7, 1923. In 1939 she married handsome Fred Kegel from Turner, Montana and followed his railroad career until finally settling in Fort Benton where they built their home and raised their 6 children. On the corner where we lived, were 15 kids and more in houses down the block. All were welcome in her house but she didn’t make a big fuss over them. In fact, she usually sat at the dining room table during lunch, paging through her magazine and ignoring the mass of kids gathered in our house. When we set the table for dinner we called out, how many plates? Always an extra one or two for friends. We were advised by her at all points, to join it, do it, get out there, you are young for such a short time. And we did. The house smelled like a gym for years while she laundered sporting uniforms and cheerleading outfits. Her 4 boys were football and basketball players, swimmers and wrestlers and she and Dad never missed a game, even when it meant driving through blizzards, ice, snow and everything Montana. She sat under blankets and cheered but always laughed that she didn’t know what was going on. She seemed to the world like such a sweetie, but we knew she was the boss, the finance director, and the final word. She was fearless and had a backbone of steel. Because she supported our lives, we were free. She cleaned up after us and cheered us on. After an event she waited in the breakfast nook, a cozy place known to so many, and waited until the late night hours, to hear what had gone on. When we entered the house, no matter when, we would sound out, “Mom?” If she wasn’t there, which was rare, we were at a loss.
Mom enjoyed life in her dreamy, artist’s way. She extolled the intricate beauty of an iris, loved baby hands and feet, butterflies, dragonflies and birds. When she had a moment of quiet we could find her at the sewing machine where she created costumes, gowns and Barbie Doll clothes, and repaired everything from camping tents to horse gear. When she used gentle fabrics for sewing, she spent most of the time touching and admiring the fabric. She finished projects on the finish line and not a minute sooner because finishing wasn’t what she loved. She loved the process. She was an artist of many nearly-finished paintings. We are blessed to have her scrap books of drawings and paintings reflecting her hopes and dreams and how she saw herself as a young girl.
Although she lived in Montana for almost 90 years, she loved to travel, willing to hop into any car that stopped at her curb. We used to say that she sat in her house in Fort Benton, with one foot out the door, ready to go. She took great joy in the world around her.
Mom spent the last 3 years of her life in Salt Lake City with Jan and Debra Castor’s family where a whole new community came to know and love her. We give our thanks to Coventry Assisted Living for their loving care and to Rocky Mountain Care for their tender mercies. She wasn’t afraid of death after she lost her lovely boy, K.C. Although his death knocked her over, she got her balance slowly like an injured creature and came back to us. We will miss her intelligence, her sharp wit and her curiosity. She was our rock and the glue that kept our family connected. Our lives will not be the same without her and we will say goodbye to her with gratitude and sorrow.
Mom’s parents, husband, four beloved siblings (Jerome Conrad, Richard Conrad, Marcella Entorf and Maxine Johnson), and K.C. preceded her in death. She leaves behind her children Dennis Kegel, Roxanne (Gary) Rowe, Debra (Jan) Castor, Greg (Sherry) Kegel and Curt (Cheryl) Kegel, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild and many “adopted” children. A viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 2 nd at Cannon Mortuary, 2460 E Bengal Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, UT. A funeral mass will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fort Benton, MT on October 24 th at 11:00 a.m. with a visitation at 10:00 a.m. Interment following the funeral mass at Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.