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Laurene ‘Lu’ H. Ibarra

(April 13, 1954 - Sept. 27, 2012)

Laurene H. (Hickel) Ibarra of Billings, Mont. died on Sept. 27, 2012 at home with loved ones. She was 58.

Laurene “Lu” was born April 13, 1954 in Wolf Point, Mont. to Raymond and Rosalie Hickel. Lu was raised and went to school in Wolf Point, then moved to Billings in the mid 1970s. Billings would become her home.

Lu had a bright and shining outlook on life and always made friends, family and even strangers feel special. She worked at both Albertson’s and the Poly Food Basket for a combined 27 years where she touched many of her customers’ lives. She had a special way of bringing everyone together, whether to celebrate a milestone in one of their lives or sometimes for no reason at all. She understood the value of family and showed it with love. The grandkids’ birthdays, graduations and other achievements were her favorite occasions. It was then that she also got to enjoy some of her hobbies, which included cooking, attending garage sales, shopping for others and just being together with family and friends. She also collected Kewpies, liked gardening and loved traveling.

She and her husband, Blas, would listen to music, dance, talk, explore and just enjoy each other’s company.

Lu and Blas Ibarra Jr., formerly of Powell, met in dancing class and were married on May 17, 1998. Their marriage was an excellent model for others to follow. They were true soul mates and their marriage had honesty, care, integrity and passion. Blas cared for her to the end and is going to continue to honor her through fundraising for pancreatic cancer care and awareness.

In August 2010 Lu was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Lu and Blas were already becoming very close with Jesus Christ, and this journey brought them even closer. Lu lived for 26 months after the original diagnosis, which exceeded expectations. In those two years, she brought many people closer to God, she strengthened her close personal relationships and she was able to travel and experience many of God’s magnificent creations.

Through a time that many would consider themselves doomed, she saw it as an opportunity to give glory to God as he gave her the strength to get through continued radiation and chemo treatments.

Lu had a contagious smile and an outgoing personality with an unmistakable wit.

Lu was preceded in death by her father Raymond Hickel, her brother Danny Hickel and her dear friend Josie Skibstad. 

Lu is survived by her husband Blas Ibarra; mother Rosalie Hickel; sister Katie (Vern) Cahall; brother Carl Hickel; son Barry (Jodee) Stein; daughter Jenni (Ruhd) and her husband Ben Hill; grandchildren Chelsea and Hunter Stein and Jove Havener-Ruhd.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Harvest Church Heights Campus, 1235 W. Wicks Lane, Billings, MT 59105.

Memorial donations in Lu’s name can be made to the Lustgarten Foundation, to benefit pancreatic cancer research. They can be sent online at or mailed to The Lustgarten Foundation, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, N.Y. 11714.

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