Angels sang and trumpets sounded on Oct. 23, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. when heaven welcomed home an angel we were privileged to have walk among us for just over 86 years. Her earthly name, Bertha Marie DeRudder (nickname Mole), was given by parents Marie (Delamonica), and Edward DeRudder (both from full Belgian descent). Bertha was born on their farm east of Bridger, along the ole' Clarks Fork River on Oct. 18, 1927. It was on the farm that Bertha grew up along with her eight brothers and sisters (Louise, Gen, Finka, Bud, Coutie, Frank, Gus, and John - some had nicknames given by their hired hand). She learned to shock the grain by hand, and thin the sugar beets working along with the team of horses they used as engines to pull the farm equipment. Bertha would ride to Round Butte School on a horse sitting between sisters Louise and Gen. She then graduated from Bridger High in 1945. Bertha married her high school sweetheart, Jordan J. Webber, on Jan. 11, 1947. Dad always claimed her to be the prettiest girl in the valley. They were married for 55 years when Jordan got his wish to take a permanent nap on the ditch bank while changing his water on May 22, 2002. Bertha worked alongside Jordan on their 2nd generation farm, cooking for anyone and everyone who stopped by; from farm hands to the endless visits of relatives and friends. She was self- taught in playing the piano, accordion, and organ - all by ear.
Along with music, she loved to entertain with skits, where she would dress the part as well as write her own music, words and all! Bertha loved being the town clown. She composed a unique, individualized poem for each and every friend or family member who passed on before her. Her greatest annual enjoyment came during Halloween! Every year, one could find Bertha composing her favorite Good Witch costume in the spirit of the holiday. To quote her witchy voice, "I just flew in from the North Pole and could use a shot of whiskey!" Long before you could buy masks she would design her own by gluing on straw for hair and cutting tiny slits to see out. She once caught her homemade hair on fire while smoking a cigar! Her children now wonder exactly how she successfully drove into Bridger safely wearing those masks. She never wanted anyone to know who was behind the costume. Between all this, she and Jordan raised five children. All 5 of her kids learned to play a musical instrument as it was required, along with annual dental visits and that one good pair of shoes each year. Mom always told us we had to take care of our teeth and our feet. We spent many evenings singing and playing music as a family. To quote Dad (Jordan), "We don’t need an idiot box to entertain ourselves." Bertha left her country home a few years ago after a stroke and arthritis left her more dependent on others for help.
A special thank you to the many who have cared for her at the Billings Health and Rehabilitation Community: Stacey, Chris, Chandra, Robin, Joe, Sherri, Frank, Ryan, and many others. Thank you all for your kindness and care for her. Bertha was preceded in death by her parents Marie and Edward DeRudder; husband Jordan; daughter Mary Ann; sister Louise “Mussa”; brothers Edward “Finka”, George “Bud”, August “Gus”; and her great-granddaughter Samantha Krieger. Survivors include her five children, John (Becky) Webber of Billings, Roger (Kathleen) Webber of Bridger, Cecelia Doupe of Burns Lake, BC, Canada, Anita (Brian) Daubert of Billings and Robert (Colette) Webber of Joliet; 12 grandchildren, Becky (Roger), Jordan (Jen), Hallie (Derek), Helen (Jake), Kerista (Adam), Josh (Cathie), Richelle (Tim), John, Taylor, Nick, Austin and Shayla; 8 great-grandchildren, Owen, Jude, Kelsey, Isaac, Pepper, Macy, Mia and Madi; two brothers, Frank (Sharon) DeRudder and John DeRudder; and two sisters, Gen Schwend and Virginia (Jim) Shatto. Bertha's grandkids hold on to some very special memories they experienced with her out in the country and in her memorable log home. A vigil service was held at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, and the funeral mass was celebrated at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, both at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bridger. Interment was in the Bridger Cemetery.
Mom always had a soft spot in her heart for all children. In lieu of flowers please donate to your favorite children’s fund. Mom, Gramma, we miss you so but know the pain is gone and you are happy. Until we meet again we hold you in our hearts and memories. Love you - “Yeah Really.” Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel of Red Lodge was in charge of arrangements.