Mary Ellen (LaPointe) Crnich

October 16, 1939 ~ February 18, 2022 (age 82)


Our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and wife, Mary Ellen Crnich, passed away peacefully on Friday, February 18, 2022, at the Community Hospital of Anaconda.

Born Mary Ellen LaPointe on October 16, 1939, in Missoula, MT to Francis P. and Mary (McAtee) LaPointe, she was the oldest of eight children. She grew up in Plains, MT, and spoke fondly of her happy childhood there with her siblings and their many adventures. Never without a playmate, she told us that when she needed some alone time, she would go hide under a tree and read. Thus began her lifelong love of reading.

After high school, Mary Ellen attended Carroll College where she attained her Associate of Arts Degree in both English and History. It was at college that she met and married Thomas Crnich in February of 1961 at the Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, MT. They moved to Anaconda in July of that year and soon welcomed their first child, Lynn, followed closely by Debbie and then Kurt. She always told us that she loved being our mom. She was a wonderful mother – kind and patient and gentle. No matter what was going on in her life, she always had time to listen to all our problems, big or small, and make everything okay with an encouraging word and gentle advice. Although she was quiet and soft-spoken, she was funny and smart and had a quick wit that never failed to surprise us, especially her grandchildren. Some of their conversations ended with one or more of her grandchildren saying, “Oh Grandma!!” and rolling their eyes and laughing hysterically at her funny comments.

Besides being the heart of our home and taking wonderful care of our family, Mary Ellen was a teacher’s aide as well as a substitute teacher for 23 years for the Anaconda school district.  She truly enjoyed all the children she worked with throughout the years and felt privileged to be part of their lives. She was also actively involved with the Anaconda Catholic Community and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.

Mary Ellen had many interests throughout her life.  She was a great baker – her maple cookies and povitica are family favorites. We have yet to successfully duplicate them, but we keep trying. Her turkey gravy and Yankee pot roast were the best. She loved all holidays and decorating for each and every one of them. Her children and grandchildren all have beautiful handmade Christmas stockings that are part of each of our holiday traditions. A voracious reader, she could often be found reading two or more books at a time, particularly mysteries and historical novels. She was a talented artist, although she didn’t think so, and her family has many cherished cards and drawings she made for us throughout the years. Many happy hours were spent over the years perusing local antique shops collecting china, silver spoons, and anything else that caught her eye. In more recent years, working all different types of word jumbles and crossword puzzles, listening to classical music, and stamp collecting were some of her favorite activities. Although she had many health challenges during her life, her glass was always half-full, and she was always “feeling better.” She lived her life with grace, dignity and courage, as beautiful inside as she was outside.

She is survived by her husband Tom of 61 years, children Lynn (Mike) Higgins of Anthem, AZ; Debbie (Ray) Puccinelli of Idaho Falls, ID; and Kurt Crnich of Kuna, ID; grandchildren Max Higgins; Joey (Caroline) Puccinelli; Drew (Michelle) Puccinelli; Paige (Conner Morris) Puccinelli; Andrea (Reece) Holloway; Kurt Crnich Jr.; Lauren Crnich; great-grandchildren Nino and CeCe Puccinelli; Mara and Casey Puccinelli; Arlo Holloway; brothers Peter LaPointe of Plains, MT and Mike (Gayle) LaPointe of FL; sisters Bernadette Roy, Nora Morris and Elaine Vetter, all of Lolo, MT, and Therese (Joe) Baldwin of Fort Collins, CO; sisters-in-law Pauline LaPointe of Plains, MT and Susan (Mike) Carlson of Glendive, MT; uncle Lynn McAtee of Plains, MT; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, brother Dan LaPointe, brothers-in-law Duane Roy and Neil Morris, parents-in-law Edward and Zora Crnich, and grandson Nicholas Puccinelli.

Our family would like to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to the staff at Community Nursing Home of Anaconda for taking such wonderful care of our mom during the time she was there, and to the doctors and nurses at Community Hospital of Anaconda who cared for her over the years.

Private family services will be held at a later date.  Mary Ellen loved animals, particularly cats. If you would like to honor her memory, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Pintler Pets or to a charity of your choice or simply consider doing a kind deed for someone.

Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral and Cremation Service is entrusted with the funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at

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