Obituary – Joan Vial

Joan Vial

81, of Liby

Joan Vial, 81, passed away Thursday, July 20, 2017, in her last home on earth at the Libby Care Center.

Joan Merry Rothlisberger was born on April 30, 1936, at Fargo, N.D.  She was adopted by Dr. William L. Rothlisberger and Marjorie (PicKell) Rothlisberger at eight months old around Christmas.  Joni (as she was known by many) fondly recalled many summers in North Dakota where she and her younger brother Daniel, as part of the Junior Marines, marched, earned badges and swam the days away at “the Lake.”  The family lived in Rolla N.D., until she was 14, and then moved to Hamilton, where her father moved his dental practice.  Joni was active in school and despite having leg braces due to polio, was crowned homecoming queen.  It was there she graduated from High School in 1954 having made many life-long friends.

After graduation, Joan went to Kinman Business College in Spokane, Wash. Returning to Hamilton, she met her love, Melvin D. Vial and they married on Sept. 11, 1955, where after much therapy, Joan was able to walk down the aisle without her crutches. This was just one example of her exhibiting a profound inner strength to overcome any disabling obstacle she was presented with. Once married, they moved to San Francisco where Mel attended and graduated from the School of Mortuary Science.

Coming back to Montana, Joan and Mel lived in Fort Benton where Joan worked as a telephone operator. It was there they adopted their two children and Joan devoted her time to raising them and enjoyed being a stay at home mom while they were young.

Moving frequently to follow Mel’s career, they settled in Libby in 1969. She returned to being a telephone operator for a time while Mel worked for the Gomph Funeral Home. Branching out on their own, they owned and operated the Vial Funeral Home from 1973 until their retirement in 1992.  Joni worked part-time in the business and was known for her fearless driving while she made many transport trips in all types of weather.

During their retirement, Joan and Mel spent many wonderful winters being snowbirds; going to Arizona to bask in the sun with friends. As a social butterfly, Joni always enjoyed interacting with people. She was on the go and up for any new adventure.  In her last three years at the Libby Care Center she could be found playing bingo, bowling, even going fishing for the first time – she never said no to an activity especially the ice cream socials!  She was a skilled shopper and listed shopping as one of her hobbies. In her later years, Joni enjoyed belonging to the Christ Lutheran Church, and was interested in numerous charitable organizations.

Surviving her are her daughter, Debbie and son-in-law, Maurice (Mo) Huisentruit of Troy; her brother Daniel Rothlisberger and wife Cheryl of Hamilton; brothers-in-law Vernon Vial and wife Mary of Arizona and David Vial and wife Doral of Hamilton; grandchildren, Jeremy Huisentruit of Libby, Josh Huisentruit of Troy and Shannon Jensen of Florida; and great-grandchildren, Harlee, Jayden and Joey; along with numerous nieces and nephews and a loving large extended family. Preceding her in death were her parents, husband Mel, son Daniel and numerous close friends.

Funeral Services will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at the Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home with viewing open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Burial will follow at the Libby Cemetery. Memorials can be made to any charitable organization of a donor’s choice as Joni believed it is important to give to one’s community.  Arrangements are by Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home in Libby.  Online condolences and memories may be shared at