“Discover the legacy of Ellen Baumler, esteemed Montana historian from Helena, MT. Explore Ellen Baumler’s impact on Montana’s history through her Wikipedia page. Find details about Ellen Baumler’s life, contributions, and obituary in Montana. Celebrate the life of this remarkable historian and her lasting influence on the state’s cultural heritage.”
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Celebrate the life of this remarkable historian and her lasting influence on the state’s cultural heritage.”
Ellen Baumler, a historian whose stories and deep knowledge of the Treasure State made Montana’s colorful past come to life, has died.
“The story is true, Ellen has left us,” her husband, Mark, said Monday. He said she had been battling cancer and died Saturday. She was 74.
Jon Axline, a longtime friend and fellow historian, spoke about her impact.
“It’s a big loss for the historical community in Helena and Montana,” he said.
“We have been good friends for 30-odd years and colleagues, and did an awful lot together over the years,” Axline said Monday. “I don’t know what to say … She has left a big hole in my life.”
Baumler, a Helena resident, was an interpretive historian at the Montana Historical Society for more than 25 years. She wrote dozens of historic columns and her books include “Montana Moments” and “Montana Chillers: 13 True Tales of Ghosts and Hauntings,” the historical society said in an email.
The Montana Historical Society said Monday its staff and board are deeply saddened to learn of Baumler’s death.
“Ellen’s contributions to the field of Montana history were nothing short of remarkable,” Director Molly Kruckenberg said. “She was a champion advocate for the preservation of Montana’s historic places. She spent countless hours inspiring students and life-long learners to study history and to make history accessible. She excelled at making the past relevant, understandable, and enjoyable, making her a respected and beloved Montana historian.”
In August, the Montana Historical Society presented Baumler with the Montana Heritage Keeper Award during a ceremony in the Pioneer Cabin Garden in Helena’s historic Reeder’s Alley.
Kruckenberg called her “a champion advocate for the preservation of Montana’s historic places.”
The award honors a person or organization for their “exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana’s historical and cultural heritage.”
In 2011 she received the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award and in 2017 the Peter Yegen Jr., Award from the Montana Association of Museums for excellence and distinction in fostering the advancement of Montana’s museums.
Her interests did not stop with history. Baumler was also an avid horsewoman, her husband said.
“She loved horses and riding,” Mark Baumler said. “She loved riding in the Helena Valley.”
The Baumlers moved to Helena in 1988 from Tucson, Arizona. She had grown up in Kansas City, Kansas, her husband said.
“We feel like this has always been home for us,” Mark Baumler said. He and Ellen have a daughter, Katie.
Her most recent book is “The Life of the Afterlife in the Big Sky State: A History of Montana’s Cemeteries.”
Axline, who collaborated with Baumler on a book about the hidden history of Helena, described his friend as a “popular historian.”
“She just liked to tell stories in a conversational manner,” he said. “She was not pretentious about it at all, but she was an ace storyteller. She enjoyed ghost stories a lot.”
Mark Baumler said his wife of nearly 45 years had a Ph.D. in history and had retired about four years ago. He said history was what she loved and liked to interact with the public on things she thought were important.
“She always thought we could be better if we knew our history,” he said.
Services are pending.