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Penelope "Penny" Lefler
February 28, 1943 ~ January 11, 2024 (age 80) 80 Years Old
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Penelope Kay (Sanders) Lefler, affectionately known as “Penny,” passed away peacefully in the comfort of her home in Arlee, MT on January 11th, 2024 at the age of 80. Penny spent the last hours of her life surrounded by family. Penny was born on February 28th, 1943 in St. Ignatius, MT to Earl and Ethel Sanders. She was the third of three girls, arriving over 20 years after her sisters, Marie and Jeannette. Because she was so much younger than her sisters, Penny had several nieces and nephews that were more like brothers and sisters to her. Penny spent much of her childhood in Dixon, MT before moving to Arlee with her parents where she graduated from Arlee High School in 1961. She spent many summer days in her younger years swimming in the Flathead River near Perma, and in Mission Dam in St. Ignatius with her dear friend Karen Howlett (Hale). Penny later married Benjamin Douglas Lefler from Missoula, MT in November 1965, with whom she had three boys, Douglas, Daniel and Darby. Penny always said that she was happy she had all boys because she was a tomboy herself. When she and Benjamin separated, she remained in the Jocko Valley and saw it as the perfect place to raise her boys, surrounded by the mountains and the Salish culture. This was home. After working several years for the CSKT Education Department, Penny took a leap of faith and entered barber school. Upon receiving her barber license, she operated a small barber shop in Arlee for a short time before going to work at Dailey’s Meats in Missoula. In 1992, Penny rekindled a friendship with James Jollie, a family friend from her childhood in Dixon. Jim and Penny were married in November, 1992 and made their home in Yakima, WA. After 7 ½ years of marriage, they divorced and Penny returned to her beloved Jocko Valley. Though divorced, Penny and Jim remained friends until his passing. Penny was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and was extremely proud of her Salish heritage. She often said that hearing native drums and singing would “put a lump” in her throat. It evoked emotions deeply tied to her roots in the Salish Nation. She loved attending powwows where she reveled in the music, dancing and reuniting with her friends. Anyone who knew Penny knew that she had a strong will and independent nature, coupled with fierce loyalty. She was never afraid to say what was on her mind. She loved projects and taught herself how to do many things even if they were not done conventionally. She did it her way. One of her favorite sayings was “I just wanna get it done” Penny was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Ethel Sanders, and her sisters Marie (Sanders) Smith and Jeannette (Sanders) Couture, and her husbands Benjamin D Lefler, and James Jollie. Penny is survived by her three sons, Douglas (Amy) Lefler, Daniel (Kris) Lefler, Darby (Emily) Lefler, her four grandchildren Grace Lefler, Shea Lefler, Jordan Lefler, Logan Lefler (Kaity Mills), as well as many nieces and nephews whom she loved very much. A special thanks to her nieces and nephews Jim & Delores Malatare, Allen and Kelly Pierre and family for the loving support provided to us and for taking such good care of “Auntie Penny” upon her passing. Penny’s sense of humor and strong personality will be remembered fondly by all those who knew and loved her.