Merle Jean Harris, 85, passed away Sunday September 12, 2021 at her home in Hardin, Montana surrounded by her family and loved ones. Merle Jean was born February 11, 1936 to Oliver Hugs, Sr. and Winona Yellowtail. She was a member of the Greasy Mouth Clan and a child of the Greasy Mouth. She was raised in the Fort Smith and Lodge Grass areas.
She graduated from Lodge Grass High School in 1954. Following high school graduation, she enrolled at the Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas. Merle Jean earned her Associates of Arts Degree in Bookkeeping from Haskell.
In March of 1956, she married Chester “Chuck” Harris and they made their home in Lodge Grass where they raised their four children. They were married for 23 years and later divorced.
Merle Jean began her working career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She later worked for the Crow Tribe in the Community Action Program. She worked for the Wyola School District before returning to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee.
She was an accomplished beadwork artist whose talents were recognized across the nation. Her works include cradleboards, blankets and much sought after moccasins to name a few.
Merle Jean was a life long Christian and would share an encouraging word through scripture with her entire family and her many friends. When she was younger, she would lead the church in singing hymns. She devoted herself to studying the Bible with her many Bible Study and Prayer Groups. She continued her practice of daily devotions until a short time ago. Merle Jean was a true friend to many. She was always willing to help those in need and offer prayers from her heart.
She is preceded in death by her parents; her daughter Melody Harris; her sisters Pansy and Linda Hugs; her brothers Walter “Mikey” Stewart, Sonny, Dallas, Jerome and William Hugs, Franklin Plenty Hoops and Kenneth Toineeta.
Merle Jean is survived by her sons Jerry (Melody) and Mervel (Faith) Harris and daughter Rosie Doane; her many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.
“Mom, Grandma, Auntie Jean, we love you and we’ll miss you. We thank you for loving us and showing us how the love of God and Jesus Christ can change our lives. You have fought the good fight, you have run the race and we know we will all see you again in glory.”
A graveside service will be Friday at 10:00 AM at the Lodge Grass Cemetery. Visitation will be Wednesday and Thursday 10 -4PM