Esther Ellen Johnston Capellen

Esther Ellen Johnston Capellen

Aug. 3, 1937 – Jan. 22, 2021

Esther Ellen Johnston Capellen, 83, passed away due to natural causes on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at Benefis Healthcare in Great Falls, Mont.

Esther was born on August 3, 1937, in Basin to Henry Sylvester and May (Fowler) Johnston. She was raised in Basin, graduating from Basin High School in 1955. 

On April 15, 1966, Esther married H. Earl Capellen in Cody. The couple made their home in Cody, where they raised their six children. There, Esther worked hard caring for their home and family and working outside the home as a waitress. Earl passed away in 2003, and Esther moved to Havre to be near one of her sons in 2008.

Esther was a smart, funny, spunky lady who enjoyed reading, cross-stitch, plastic canvas work, sewing and rodeos. She loved to attend high school and college sporting events, cheering on her teams and occasionally chastising the refs for their “abuse” of “her kids.”

In Havre, she was a dedicated volunteer at Northern Montana Hospital, and in Cody, she was a member of the Eagles Auxiliary.

She was preceded in death by her husband, H. Earl Capellen, parents Henry Sylvester and May Johnston, sister Alice Powers, brother-in-law Rex Parks, sister-in-law Nellie Capellen and parents-in-law Howard and Edith Capellen.

Esther is survived by her daughters Candi Tryon of Joliet, Mont., and Peggy Cheatham of Powell; sons Jerry (Donna) Capellen of Lovell, Charles (Michelle) Price of Douglas, Harvey (Marianne) Capellen of Havre and Virgil (Cassie) Capellen of Cody; 17 grandchildren and several “grandchildren of the heart;” 26 great-grandchildren; brother Walter (Mandalee) Johnson of Denver; sister Maybelle Parks of Altadena, Calif.; brother-in-law Virgil Auburn Capellen of Cottontown, Tenn.; and numerous nieces and nephews.

There was a visitation at Holland & Bonine Funeral Home on Friday, Jan. 29, in Havre.

Funeral services will take place in the chapel of Ballard Funeral Home on Monday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m. with graveside services to follow. 

A luncheon will be served at the Eagles after the graveside service.

An online guestbook is available at