Retired music teacher Jeanette Kay (Larson) McCormick, 74, died on April 30, 2023, in
Choteau from metastatic uterine cancer.
A celebration of life will be held June 19 at 11 a.m. in the Choteau High School auditorium
with a luncheon and musical program to follow at the Stage Stop Inn.
Jeanette’s love for music and teaching, coupled with her exuberance, generosity and
diligence impacted her community profoundly. She was a gifted musician and she shared this gift
with everyone around her, whether she was performing for the community, training a student, or
simply humming a tune as she walked down the hall.
She was an incredible performer, always adding her own variations to the music she played;
an extra chord here, a dramatic ending there. Her musical flair and dynamism left people smiling. In
her early years as a professionally trained musician, she played lead roles in various musicals and
operas, including “Oklahoma,” “Carmen” and others. When it came to teaching, it was rare to see her
seated in class or during a lesson, but rather on her feet gesturing, exclaiming and bringing music to
life for her students.
Jeanette was most motivated by the deep love she felt for kids of all ages. She had a true
passion for teaching and her heart overflowed with a desire to help her students build confidence in
themselves as musicians and as individuals. She gave lessons at no charge when families couldn’t
afford the fee; she spent countless evenings, weekends and trips away supporting their musical
endeavors. Jeanette had endless energy reserves that were driven by her vested interest in her
students’ success and the compassion she carried for each one of them.
She was devoted to her role as a teacher and musician, yet she was an equally hard-working
mom and wife. She loved her three children deeply and was a fierce advocate for them. Her son,
Meade, was born with Down Syndrome and after his birth, she immersed herself in research and
advocacy for children with Down Syndrome and their families. She became involved with numerous
organizations, attended national conventions and started a statewide support group for parents of
children with Down Syndrome. She advocated tirelessly for Meade to be mainstreamed in school.
She made innumerable trips to Great Falls to take Mara and Marissa to private music
lessons and Meade to occupational and speech therapy. She and her husband, Mark, attended all of
the kids’ sporting, music and school events, crisscrossing the state for swim team, Special Olympics,
volleyball, basketball, track, band and choir.
Taking care of and providing for her family was one of Jeanette’s greatest joys. During
holidays, she would adorn the house with festive decor and would stake her claim as queen of the
kitchen, cooking family favorites for everyone to enjoy. The door to her house was always open,
ready to welcome more to the table; her children cherished memories of their home as a noisy
happy haven for their friends. Jeanette was a mother to many more than her own three children.
Jeanette, also affectionately known as “Jan,” was born on June 24, 1948, in Plainview,
Nebraska, to Mary Ann and Kenneth Larson. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a
Harvestore (silo) salesman and played the tuba in a regional polka band. Jeanette grew up with her
older brother, Robert, in Plainview until her sophomore year of high school, when the family moved
to Norfolk, Nebraska, and she graduated from Norfolk High in 1966.
She attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL), majoring in K-12 music
education. In 1967, she competed in a statewide pageant and was crowned Miss Norfolk. Also in
1967, she met Terrence McClellan, a UNL student in theatrical set design, and they were married in
1969. She graduated in the spring of 1970 with her bachelor’s degree.
They moved several times as a young married couple, living in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln,
Nebraska, and Amherst, Massachusetts, where Jeanette earned her master’s degree in vocal
performance from the University of Massachusetts. In 1977, while they lived in Brockport, New
York, their daughter, Mara, was born in the nearby town of Rochester. In 1980, they moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where they divorced, and Jeanette became a single mom, supporting herself and her
daughter as a music teacher in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, near Omaha.
In Omaha, she became friends with neighbors, Connie and Mike Schwitters, who then
moved to Choteau. During a summer trip to visit them, Jeanettte met and housesat for Choteau
industrial arts teacher, Mark McCormick, and they hit it off right away. At the same time, a high
school music position opened in Simms, which Jeanette applied for and received. Jeanette and Mara
moved to Montana for good, renting a home for their first year from Jeanette’s cousin, Dee Dee
Rains on the Birdtail Ranch in Simms.
On July 26, 1986, Jan and Mark were married at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Choteau and
she and Mara moved to Choteau. She continued teaching in Simms until their son, Meade, was born
in 1988 and their daughter, Marissa, was born in 1991. In 1992 Jeanette began working as the
elementary music teacher in Fairfield.
In 2003, she was hired as the elementary music teacher for Choteau Public Schools. In 2005,
she earned her master’s degree in K-12 Spanish, and began teaching 7-12 Spanish in addition to
A big portion of her time was dedicated to teaching private voice and piano lessons and
sharing her musical talents with the community, accompanying students, performing at nursing
homes, weddings and funerals, directing the Trinity Lutheran Church choir, singing and playing the
piano at other events in Choteau and Great Falls, including the Great Falls Symphonic Choir, and for
a number of years conducted the Choteau Community Band. She was a season ticket holder at the
Great Falls Symphony and enjoyed attending with her daughters and many friends.
She retired from teaching in the spring of 2018 but continued teaching private piano and
voice until her diagnosis of cancer in 2019.
In addition to teaching and raising her family, Jeanette was an avid gardener who loved
raising geraniums and kept her house plants alive for more than 30 years. Anyone who went to
Choteau Elementary School during her time there remembers the geranium plants lining the
window sills of her room. She also loved birds. She enjoyed feeding them daily and watching them
from her porch with a cup of coffee. She was captivated by all things in the skies: birds, clouds,
stars, sunsets, even jet contrails. Her family remembers being awakened in the middle of the night
more than once to speed out of town to watch the Northern Lights.
One thing most will remember about Jan is that she was a die-hard Cornhusker football fan.
She was commonly seen donning her Husker gear and you never knew when she’d break out in the
Husker Fight Song, hands clapping of course. Her brother had season tickets and a highlight was
traveling with her family each year to attend a game in person.
Jeanette possessed a sparkling personality that was reflected in her physicality. She favored
bright colored jewelry and bedazzled clothes that glimmered with the same kind of energy she
radiated from dawn to dusk. One of her favorite pastimes was day-long shopping trips to Great Falls
with her daughters. In addition to her fashion interest, she found great joy in choosing meaningful
gifts for her friends, family and students.
She was devoted to her two grandchildren, Theodore and Josephine, and if you happened to
bump into Jeanette on the street, you surely would have been offered the chance to see their
pictures. When they visited Choteau, they most enjoyed being at home — right next to Grandma Jan.
Jeanette’s tenacity was a trademark. Her family described her as strong-willed (to the point
of stubbornness), persistent, buzzing with energy and always on the go. She was tenaciously
conscientious with a strong moral code, and thus was committed to doing what she felt was the
right thing at all costs.
After her initial diagnosis of cancer in 2019, Jeanette went through surgery, chemotherapy
and radiation. Her friends and family marveled at how, even in the face of cancer, her body never
slowed down, though sadly, she began to experience memory loss and ultimately dementia. When
her cancer finally prevailed, family and friends rallied around her at home until earlier this spring, when she moved into hospice care at Teton Peak Assisted Living.
Jeanette was preceded in death by her brother, Robert Larson.
She is survived by her husband, Mark McCormick of Choteau; her son, Meade McCormick of
Choteau; her daughters and sons-in-law, Mara McClellan and Nadim Homsany of Berkeley,
California, and Marissa McCormick Hinds and Charlie Hinds of Oakland, California; her
grandchildren, Theodore Homsany and Josephine Jeanette Homsany of Berkeley; her niece, Ana
Cecelia Larson, in St. Louis, Missouri; and cousins, Joanne Maciejewski of Lincoln, Kim Larson Meyer
from Virginia, Debbie Hoien of Elkhorn, Nebraska, and Dee Dee Rains of Simms.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Frontier Funeral Home in Choteau. Burial
of her ashes will be this fall in Plainview.
Memorials are suggested to the Choteau Lions Club for the new community bandshell in the
City Park. Donations can be mailed to Tom Rogers, P.O. Box 617, Choteau, MT 59422 or made on the
Lions Club donations page: https://choteaulions.club/product/donate/ designated for Jeanette’s