Home sweet home

Steve Hamel

For nearly 80 years, Gloria Hier has called Richland County home.

Born and raised in Sidney, Hier, 79, moved to the Three Buttes area near Lambert after she married her late husband, Richard, in 1960. Despite all the changes that have taken place in the 52 years she’s lived in the small community, Hier said the people in Lambert haven’t changed much. “Of course it’s grown. You see all the trucks and all that stuff, but it’s still kind of like it was,” she said. “There’s more traffic like everything else, but I don’t think it has changed a lot as far as people are concerned.”

Hier’s children still raise cattle and elk on the land Richard’s family settled in 1914, and her grandchildren are always around to keep her busy. “We all like our community,” she said.

Hier likes her community so much that she hasn’t spent much time traveling. Many years ago she went on a trip to see Niagara Falls, New York and Philadelphia, but after getting separated from her friends on the subway in Philadelphia, Hier decided she wasn’t cut out for the big city. “I said you put me on a train, I’m going home,” she said. “I think I just wasn’t secure enough in myself. Didn’t have the courage to stay out there and sort it out. Right to this day I don’t travel much.”

Rather then spend time traveling, Hier has helped preserve the history of eastern Montana through her work at the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, where she and two others spent two years cataloging all the items in the museum.

At an early age, Hier knew she wanted to spend her adult life around children. She aspired to be a nurse like her mother, but after working a few days at the hospital in Sidney, Hier decided nursing wasn’t for her. Instead, she went into teaching. Hier loved school as a child, so teaching was a natural career path for her to follow. She graduated from Sidney High School in 1951 and spent nine months as a student at Eastern Montana College in Billings before landing a job as a teacher at Brorson School, where she had 15 students ranging from first grade to seventh grade. During the summer, she worked in the mountains in Silver Gate, near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, where she had an aunt and uncle who owned cabins, a gas station and a convenience store.

Hier met Richard in 1959 at the Triangle Nite Club, where she had been spending time with her sister, who was visiting from Billings where she worked as a beauty operator. Hier chuckles recalling how her sister had dyed her hair green at the time. Richard was at the Triangle with his friend Roger who broke the ice by approaching Hier’s sister. “Roger, he was a little tipsy you know, and he came over and said, ‘lady, I’ve got to have some of your hair,’’’ Hier said. “And she said, ‘what do you need my hair for.’ He says, ‘I’m going to tell somebody I saw someone with green hair and I’ve got to be able to prove it.’”

After marrying Richard a year later, Hier moved to his family’s farm near Lambert. “It was like night and day from being a teacher to coming out and living on a farm,” she said. “I sure got used to dirt. Everything is dirty on the farm.”

Hier got a job teaching reading for Richland County, in which she visited schools and homes with a reading machine to help boost children’s reading scores. She later became a teacher’s aide at the Three Buttes School.

Richard passed away in 2007, so Hier spends most of her time reading and watching over her grandchildren. Six of her grandchildren still live at home, while the seventh is on the verge of earning a master’s degree from Montana State University.

Hier said she’d love to write a children’s book, but that’s a goal she probably won’t attain. “I’d like to write books for children,” Hier said. “I’ve actually ordered a thing to try to improve my sentence writing, but I haven’t reached that goal yet, and I don’t know if I will. I can’t spell worth sour apples anymore. I used to be a pretty good speller.”

Above all, Hier said she is thankful to be surrounded by family. “I’m thankful for the good life I have, thankful for the God I’ve got and the wonderful family I’ve had.”

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