Have you ever met someone for the first time, or looked at a photograph and felt an instant connection to that person? Well, that is what happened to me when I discovered the beautiful Gladys Kistler Emmett. I was working on a research request that focused on her late husband Dr. Kistler, and came across her photo collection. There were photographs of her younger years with her family, where she and her sister were dressed exactly alike (it’s nice to see my mom wasn’t the only one that dressed her girls the same). There were also class photos, nursing school photos and photos of her adult life. I was happy to learn from several people that knew her that Gladys was just as lovely of a person in life as she was in her photographs.
Gladys was born Gladys Martin in Calumet Michigan around 1902. Gladys came to Butte with her parents and sister Inez when she was 6 years old. Her father was a Baptist minister and electrical engineer. The family made their home on Oak Street in McQueen. Gladys and her sister attended the Franklin School, then Butte High School.
Gladys graduated from the Murray Hospital School of Nursing in 1924. In May of 1925, Gladys married Dr. H.D. Kistler at her parents’ home. During their marriage the Kistlers traveled a great deal, including visits to see the doctor’s two sons and their families. Gladys was involved in many organizations including: Butte Community Concert Association (she was honored for her many years of work in 1975), Rotary, Homer Club, The Junior Service League, and the First Baptist Church Matron’s Club.
Gladys and Dr. Kistler had 11 years together before the doctor passed away from complications stemming from an auto accident in Lovelock, NV.
Gladys then moved to Chicago, IL and worked as an X-Ray technician at the Billings Hospital for four years. While visiting one of Dr. Kistler’s sons in San Francisco, she met Fred Emmett, also
from Butte. They married in Chicago in January of 1942, and eventually made their home in Butte.
Fred and Gladys were very involved in Rotary. Gladys was a proud Rotary Ann and believed strongly in the organization’s motto of “Service Above Self.” Gladys was awarded the Rotary’s Good Citizen Award in March of 1961. Fred Emmett was a District Governor for Rotary for 1956-57, and the Emmetts met many new friends along the way. They were a true partnership involved in making their community a better place. In fact, in a speech to the American Cancer Society, Fred Emmett (State Crusade Chairman) noted of Gladys, “I am proud of the opportunity of introducing you to my wife, Gladys, whom I am sure is well known to a lot of you. Not only is she a hard worker in everything we undertake, but she dedicates herself to a set of values of high ideals and self sacrifice that treat matters of the mind and spirit and less of material position and comforts.” I think that says it all.
In everything I have learned about Gladys, I think what strikes me the most about her is the ability she had to keep moving forward – regardless of what was happening in her life – while helping others along the way. That kind of grace isn’t found everyday. Gladys passed away in Butte, MT at age 90 in 1992.