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Beatrice Lolita Blanchard Neely Carney, 85

| March 13, 2024 12:00 AM

March 29, 1938 - February 19, 2024
Beatrice Lolita Blanchard was born March 29, 1938 to Irene Mae VanCampen and Vincent Gurnsey Blanchard, the third of four children, her siblings being Vera, Dale, and Beryl. 

Growing up in the Clark Fork Valley town of Plains, Montana, Bea had a joyous childhood with lots of outdoor adventures on the family farm. She gained several life-long friends in those early years. Although her life was very humble in its beginnings, she always spoke of her childhood with great fondness, as her family and church life brimmed with happiness and love. 

Bea, or Beaty, as her closest friends called her, was both outgoing and personable, but also possessed a shy humility that shunned the limelight. Nonetheless, she excelled at everything she put her hand to, learning from her parents the value of hard work and service to others. 

Graduating first in her class (Plains High School 1955), and winning an essay contest which sent her to New York City, set the stage for Beaty to launch a very bright and successful future as a career woman with nursing school on the horizon. But then, a handsome young sailor, (Alvin) Ray Neely, returning from his service in the Korean war, swept her off her feet and they were married on August 30, 1956, in Coeur d’ Alene. The newlyweds were soon blessed with three boys, Kevin Ray, Kurt Randall and Kale Robin, and they lived in Spokane while Ray received his training as an accountant at Kinman Business University.

Bea quickly adapted to her new role as wife and mother and once again excelled at everything she put her hand to. They eventually settled in Dalton Gardens and were blessed with a house on two acres as Ray’s career in the timber industry flourished, progressing to managing Lafferty Transportation Company, the tug boat company that towed logs to the mills on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River. 

This was a turning point financially for the family, but sadly Ray was stricken with a rare form of osteoporosis at age 35, which brought about his early retirement. Through this difficult trial Bea remained faithful in her duties, maintaining the household, caring for her ailing husband, raising her boys, and working part time to augment Ray’s retirement income. At times it was too much and the boys would find their Mom asleep on the floor in front of the wall heater in the living room, exhausted from the day’s labor.


Over time, the stress of Ray’s illness, along with managing the household took its toll and the marriage suffered grave damage. The two divorced and Ray passed from his illness at age 50. Some families may have come unhinged at this point, but by the grace of God, Bea held things together. In 1977, she married residential builder Jimmy Lee Carney. In so doing, her heart and family expanded and she added Steve, Roger, Curtis, Winnetta and Sean to the fold. 

The oldest children were already adults, but Bea finished raising Winnie and Sean and loved them as if they were her biological children. During these years Jim and Bea and many of the family were able to travel together for vacations and activities including competitive trap and skeet shooting, home shows and cattle conferences. She befriended her children’s friends and extended relatives and opened her heart and home and kitchen to many who became and remain part of the family. She treasured the addition of many grandchildren to the family and became a favorite grandma as she showered them with love. 

She continued her life of service and self-sacrifice to her blended family, her church, and her community as Jim transitioned from building to ranching and farming, first in Chilco, Idaho and then Cusick, Washington, where they raised hay, Galloway cattle and cutting horses.

As time went on, Bea was again called upon to be a nurse and caregiver to her husband as Jim began to develop health issues and required increased care. She faithfully cared for her husband and even the livestock that remained, though her own health was suffering as she developed short-term memory loss. After the loss of Jim in 2016, Bea was able to enjoy a few years of fellowship with her sisters, family and old friends in her hometown of Plains. Her final move was to receive care at her son Kurt’s assisted living facility in Hayden, Idaho, where she passed gracefully at the age of 85, on February 19, 2024.

Everywhere Bea went she carried with her a buoyant spirit that intentionally rose to the top, no matter how difficult the circumstances. She always had a positive outlook and never, ever complained. She was gifted with a truly grateful heart. Even toward the end of her life she consistently expressed her thankfulness to be able to rise in the morning and put her feet to the floor to embrace the gift of another day.
It is impossible to describe Bea’s life without discussing the lover of her soul. She accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior as a young child and never shrunk back from her faith though she faced many trials and tribulations throughout her almost 86 years of life. She is one of those rare souls who typified the meaning of 2 Corinthians 4:14-18:

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Bea was able to maintain this eternal perspective primarily because she nurtured a vibrant prayer life. She spent much time on her knees, in solitude, petitioning her Heavenly Father primarily for the benefit of her family and friends. She was a prayer warrior of the highest order and many can testify as to the effectiveness of her fervent prayers.

Bea was a self-sacrificing Christian who lived her life in search of a city whose builder and maker is God! She could look past this temporal world to the eternal and face every worldly circumstance with joy. This is truly her legacy and it will live on in the hearts of all who loved her.

Bea is preceded in glory by her parents Vince and Irene Blanchard, her brother Dale and Connie Blanchard, brother-in-law Don Cole and her precious niece Annie Huenink. Her younger sister Beryl Warner passed into the arms of Jesus six days after Bea. We teased them both that they were racing each other to heaven.
Bea is survived by many family members. Through son Steve (Jan) Carney she has granddaughters Angie Oetken, Jennie Steiner and Tamie Kaiser and several great-grandchildren. Through son Roger (Julie) Carney she has grandchildren Nick, Sally, Jon, Patrick, Lisa and Ben and several great-grandchildren. Through son Curtis (Lana – also Bea’s cousin!) Carney, she has granddaughter Tara (Shad) McDaniel and great-granddaughter Taylor; granddaughter Aislinn (David) Staaby and great-grandson Stetson; and granddaughter Rylann (Cole) Hopkins. Through her son, Kevin (Shari) Neely, she has granddaughter Heather (Chris) Stone, great-grandchildren Rachae (AJ) Luce, Riddick, and Rayenne; granddaughter Harmony (Chris) Clayton and great-granddaughters Journey and Jovie. Through her son Kurt (Dolly) Neely, she has grandchildren Shay (Collin) Davis, and Seraphine, Seth, Greta and Shiloh. Through her son Kale (eLane) Neely, she has grandson Cameron (Linnie) and great-grandchildren Kaleb, Trent, Laney Beth and Julianne; grandson Braden (Rachel) and great-grandson Nathan; and grandson Kenden. Through daughter Winnie (Well) Bartsma, she has granddaughter Crystal (Brian) Chain and great-grandchildren Cameron and Cora; granddaughter Jade (Russell) Vogt and great-granddaughters Breanne, Samantha, Annie; and grandson Wellbe. Through son Sean (Jani) Carney, she has granddaughter Jessica (Matthew) Oswell, great-grandchildren Jael, Rachel, Michael, Evan; granddaughter Sheila (Saif) Al-Hmeyrat, and great-grandson Amir.

Bea is also survived by her dear older sister Vera (Don, dec.) Cole, brother-in-law Dan Warner, many nieces, nephews and cousins, and many beloved friends from throughout her lifetime.

Funeral services were held on March 9 at The Altar in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and March 10 at Harvest Community Church in Plains, Montana. Burial was at Plains Cemetery.

Arrangements are provided by Yates Funeral Home. Please leave your remembrance of Bea at www.yatesfuneralhomes.com.