Helene C. 'Ellie' Raffety

Helene C. “Ellie” Raffety, 63, of Livingston, died at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Monday evening, June 3, 2013, following a short but courageous battle with lung cancer.

Ellie was born in Anaconda, June 26, 1949, the first daughter of Jerome and Elizabeth (Goe) Piotrowski. She grew up in Anaconda surrounded by its rich diversity of people and nationalities and graduated from Anaconda Central High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Montana State University in 1971, then taught third grade for two years in Salmon, Idaho.

Ellie and Larry Raffety were married June 10, 1973, in Anaconda and embarked on their lifetime adventure together. Their first home was a bunkhouse below the crest of the Continental Divide in the Sheep Creek Basin near Dell, Mont. For the next two years home was a tiny flat in London, where they learned “British,” and traveled in Europe and behind the Iron Curtain. They subsequently resided one year in Boulder, Colo., and four years in Wenatchee, Wash.

Ellie and Larry returned to Montana in 1980 and settled in Livingston, pursuing their passions of teaching, architecture, exploring the landscape, and enjoying the invincible individuals who reside here. 

They adopted two children, Mohan and Aisha, from Kolkata, India, and enjoyed many adventures as a family. Shared experiences were Ellie’s top priority, observing and enjoying what passed by, always with book in hand.

Ellie taught at St. Mary’s and Pine Creek schools before spending 18 years teaching third grade at Winans Elementary School. Books and life experiences were the gist of her approach to education. 

Her students were above all taught how to be successful, engaged, caring individuals with the ability to pursue their own talents and interests. While teaching, she earned a master’s degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University in 2003, as well as helped establish the social studies curriculum in Livingston’s elementary schools.

From 2008 to 2010, Ellie and Larry served as teachers with the Peace Corps in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, where she as usual forged strong connections with those around her. Upon returning to Livingston, she taught fourth grade at East Side Elementary School up to the very last minute she was able to do so.

Ellie is survived by her husband, Larry, of Livingston; son Mohan of Hardin; daughter Aisha of Missoula; sister Joan Lipp and her husband, Ray, of Hingham; brother-in-law Don Raffety of Petaluma, Calif.; sister-in-law Peggy Harper and her husband, Archie, of Helena; mother-in-law, Mildred Raffety, of Bozeman; and nephews, nieces and grand-nephews. She is preceded in death by parents Jerome and Elizabeth Piotrowski, and father-in-law Lloyd Raffety.

A celebration of Ellie’s life will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 310 W. Lewis St. in Livingston, Saturday, June 22, at 10:30 a.m. Cremation has taken place at Franzen-Davis Crematory.

Memorials may be sent to “Ellie’s Books,” a fund established to support her vision of elementary education, to c/o East Side School, “Ellie’s Books,” School District No. 4 & 1, 124 S. B St., Livingston, MT 59047.