The poor, the underprivileged and the working families of Montana lost a great champion when former State Senator Carolyn Squires passed away at her home surrounded by her family on March 21.
Carolyn Squires was born September 25, 1940, in Whitefish, MT. She grew up in Everett, WA where she was raised by her Grandmother Lydia and her beloved Uncle Don. Carolyn attended Catholic schools for her Primary and Secondary education alongside her best friends Bonnie and Vicki. She then attended Everett Community Junior College, where she received her Associates Degree in Arts and Science. After returning to Montana in 1965 as a single mother of two boys, Carolyn attended the Missoula Vo-Tech and received her LPN license in 1967. She began her career at St. Patrick Hospital and later moved to the old Community Hospital in downtown Missoula. Her nursing career spanned 32 years, before she retired to work for the AFL-CIO Project Challenge Program and assisted displaced union workers with re-training and re-entry into the workforce.
One of the great love affairs and friendships began on September 22, 1972 when Carolyn married her life partner and best friend Harry Squires. Together they raised two wonderful sons, Paul and Keith. Together they enjoyed many activities such as attending Lady Griz games, book shopping, and camping and fishing in the Seeley Lake area. Their marriage lasted nearly 42 years before the sudden passing of her husband Harry in 2014.
Being a fierce, unwavering Democrat and trade unionist, if there was ever a picket line, Carolyn could be found there fighting for the rights of workers. Carolyn helped lead the strike to unionize Missoula Community Hospital LPNs in 1978. She attended the 1984 National Democratic Convention as a Delegate for Walter Mondale. And also visited The White House Rose Garden to meet President Clinton and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.
Carolyn Squires was many things: wife, mother, grandmother and health care professional. While she treasured these roles will all her heart, Carolyn was probably best known for her advocacy on behalf of those marginalized by the political system.
Her political activism took a new role when she was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1986. This began a 26-year tenure in both the House and Senate, representing South Central Missoula. She served as Senate Majority Whip and Chair of the House Business and Labor Committee.
During that time she earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues, both for her precise and comprehensive knowledge of the issues, wry sense of humor and the passion she had for “her people.” Carolyn cut a familiar figure in the halls of the capital, walking briskly, head-down, in concentration, from hearing to committee meeting to floor debate. While always fair and understanding of other perspectives, Senator Squires had absolutely no hesitation in challenging those she felt were paying insufficient attention to the needs of the economically disadvantaged, children, women and working families.
Carolyn was preceded in death by her husband, Harry Squires. She is survived by her devoted sons Paul (Laurel) Daniels and their children Dennis and Megan; Keith (Angela) Daniels and their daughter Linsey, and great-grandson Mason; Half-brother Dale Emerson (Dale) of Bismarck, ND; brother-in law Ralph Squires (Caroline); as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Carolyn and Harry’s two favorite companion pugs, Roger and Sonya, also survive them.
Thank you to Partners Hospice for their assistance and care. A special thank you to Barb and Joanne for providing friendship and comfort in Mom's last days. Cremation Society of the Rockies is assisting in Carolyn’s wishes to be cremated and buried with Harry in Stevensville. There will be a private family burial later to honor these wishes. A celebration of Carolyn’s extraordinary life will be held at Missoula Children’s Theater on March 31st, 2016 from 6 to 9 PM. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Missoula Food Bank or the charity of the donor’s choosing.