Obituary: Billea Rae Rada

June 6, 1935 - June 19, 2024
Billea Rae Rada
June 6, 1935 - June 19, 2024
Posted at 1:28 PM, Jun 24, 2024

Billea was the firstborn of George and Charlotte (Moeller) Carver. Billea was born June 6, 1935, in Great Falls and spent early years in the Highwood Mountains and a homestead on the Highwood Bench. The family moved to Fort Benton in 1947. She graduated Fort Benton High School in 1953. She worked at the St. Claire hospital at age 13 through high school which set the tone for the future. She received a scholarship to the University of Montana, then transferred to Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Spokane.

She married Frank Wetzel in 1955, from this union four children were born, Kendra, Kirk, Karla, and Kelly. She returned to college in Bozeman and received her RN in 1961. She took all the children with her when she traveled for school. Billea worked in the laboratory for experimental medicine in the Deaconess Hospital, and a remodeled grocery store (1961-1966) and co-authored research articles with Dr. Ernest Eichwald, while working part-time in nursing.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1969. When the new Deaconess Hospital opened, she worked full time in nursing for the next 40 years. She worked in Pediatrics, Coronary Care Unit, Head Nurse in ICU for 7 years until 1976. Her first husband died of cancer in 1975 at the age of 41. Billea then married her childhood sweetheart in 1976, he passed away of cancer in 1987. Billea married Fred Rada in 1993. She obtained her master’s degree in nursing in 1987. She then went to work at the emergency room, assisted in opening the open-heart unit, taught briefly at U of M, worked home care, Clinical Specialist, and started the PICC program with the support of Dr. Geyer. She retired from Nursing in 2001.

Besides being a single mother to four children after the death of two husbands, she had many outside interests. She was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for 52 years where her children attended grade school. She was a member of the church council, taught CCD, and served on the funeral dinner council. She square danced for 30 years, snow skied, and slalom water skied. She enjoyed a cabin on the Missouri River where friends and family spent time fishing, boating, biking and enjoying wildlife, and planted a large garden for many years. A highlight in her retirement years was a pilgrimage in Italy from Venice to Rome at the age of 79.

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