The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

Elizabeth (Bette) Stepan


October 25, 2017

Elizabeth (Bette) Stepan, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday morning, October 22, 2017. As her health continued to decline, she remained encouraged, recalling Second Corinthians 4:16, "So we do not lose heart; though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day."

Bette was born June 23, 1930, to Peter and Olga Kuipers, whose families immigrated to America from the Netherlands. Her childhood at the family home on a dryland wheat farm south of Manhattan was a time of joyful adventures with her brother, John, and two sisters, Ella and Edna.

After graduating from Manhattan Public School in 1948, Bette's adventurous spirit took her across the country to Spokane, Chicago, and Philadelphia, where she held various interesting jobs.

Later she returned to Montana to earn her elementary education teaching certificate. She enjoyed teaching students in one-room schoolhouses in Logan and Milligan Canyon. During that time, she met Carl Stepan, who joined her in attending a group Bible study held in her classroom on Tuesday evenings.

Bette then studied the Bible for two years at Briarcrest in Saskatchewan before transferring to Montana Institute of the Bible in Billings, where she completed her Bible degree and was reunited with Carl. They were married on July 17, 1958. Two daughters were born to them, and Bette spent her days joyfully caring for her family.

Bette loved playing by ear beautiful hymns of worship on the piano, organ, and accordion. When she and Carl retired to the Cardwell Valley in 1989, she cherished opportunities to play the piano and accordion during services at the Cardwell Community Church. Remarkably, she could transpose a piece of music into any key as she accompanied Carl, who loved to sing. Along with her brother on the harmonica and sisters on the organ and piano, Bette regularly brought the blessing of music to residents of the Churchill Retirement Home, playing hymns on the accordion and offering words of encouragement to the elderly.

Grandma Belle's accordion music and singing were a highlight for little ones and adults alike who attended a children's program at the Bozeman Public Library one St. Patrick's Day as she joyfully performed there along with the Celtic youth fiddle band in which her grandson was a member.

Bette was the epitome of a gracious woman of God. With her heart of empathy, kindness, and compassion, she made friends wherever she went. Serving with dear friends in the Mailbox Club ministry for children, creating beautifully crocheted gifts, and sending cards of encouragement filled with verses of Scripture to family and friends were among her ministries to others. "Grandma Belle's Brownies" were a favorite, and she loved to sacrificially support and faithfully encourage many who serve in the Lord's work, sharing the good news of salvation through Christ, both in the United States and overseas. Carl's and her favorite Scripture passage was Psalm 34, and Bette often reminded others to commit all things to the Lord, as Psalm 37:5 teaches.

Bette was preceded in death by her brother, John Kuipers, and her beloved husband, Carl. She is survived by her daughters, Margaret (Bryan) Robertus and Alora ("Lori") (Bruce) Foreman; six grandchildren, Ben, Luke, and Eryn Foreman; and Steffanie, Nathan (Madisen), and Cara Robertus; two sisters, Ella Droge and Edna Marks; and many nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to thank the Hospice of Bozeman Health team for their tender, compassionate support and loving care during Belle's final days. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Grace Bible Church, 3625 S. 19th Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59718 or to Cardwell Community Church, 975 Highway 359, Cardwell, MT 59721.

Graveside services will be held at 1:00 at the South Boulder Cemetery on Saturday, October 28, followed by a memorial service at Cardwell Community Church at 2:00. Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service


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