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Lisa Cay Pena


way peacefully surrounded by loved ones after a sudden and brief illness at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena on the morning of Nov. 10, 2012.

The world was never the same since Lisa was born to Dr. Forrest and Cathryn Schroeder on July 25, 1957, in Kalispell. Lisa grew up in Eureka and was the oldest of five children. Her sisters and brothers are Rachael Brabeck, Will Schroeder, Amy Schroeder, and Adam Schroeder.

Throughout her life Lisa shared her many gifts that included drawing, music, hiking, gardening, writing, and reading. These are just a few of the many talents Lisa had, but her passion for the outdoors with her abilities to weave all of her gifts into her professional career was special.

Lisa graduated from Carroll College with a bachelor’s degree in education and from the University of Montana with a master’s of psychology. From there she dedicated her life to teaching and counseling. Lisa started her teaching career in the one room school at Sylvanite, located in the Yaak, for four years. Teaching there affirmed that Lisa was more than just a teacher. As a friend to the community, lover of the outdoors, and with a willingness to reach out to individual students and their families, Lisa created an excitement that motivated her students to reach beyond the classroom.

Lisa then moved to Seeley Lake. It was here she would teach and counsel for the better part of three decades. Lisa was more than just your average teacher. Her room was alive with experience. Students were excited with anticipation many times to see what new drawing Lisa would create on the chalkboard or new learning experience she would have created. Her teaching was also not confined to the classroom. Many a field trip opened the minds and hearts of her students to the possibilities of what they could learn and do with their lives. It was easy to see that Lisa loved teaching and believed that the students deserved the best education the school could offer.


Lisa was a person of principle, and she was very professional. She offered her time, talents and resources to the community.

Though teaching and counseling might have been Lisa’s profession, her passion and love were her three daughters and five grandchildren. Amber Frydenlund is married to Travis. They have two wonderful sons, Chase, age 4, and Trey, 2. Annaliese Smail is married to Ryan, and they have three beautiful children, Audrey, 4, Austin, 3, and brand new Ella; and Ashley Pena who shared her home and is now the education coordinator for RMDC Head Start.

Once Lisa retired from teaching, her life as a grandmother defined her life. Using all her gifts and talents, Lisa could be seen walking, gardening, cooking with them (Lisa was an excellent and creative cook), playing in the park, going to Exploration Works, Carousel, etc., with them hand in hand almost on a daily basis. I’m sure many a friend’s conversation was filled with the adventures of Lisa’s grandchildren. The grandkids loved visiting “Grandma Lisa’s” home to play with all the fun and creative toys, romp in the backyard, or even to help out in the garden. There was no end to what new adventures they might find. Lisa’s office was filled with the many pieces of “artwork” and pictures from her grandchildren. Her love for them knew no bounds.

Until her sudden passing, Lisa worked and served as the plan manager, PRTF Waiver in the Developmental Services Division under the Mental Health Bureau. Though retired from a very successful teaching career, Lisa filled her days reaching out to people in this “second” career.

Lisa also donated to many organizations such as the Audubon Society, National Public Radio, food banks and a number of other nonprofit organizations. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that anyone interested in giving to donate to a nonprofit of their choice in her name. The family has also made the decision to hold a celebration of life for Lisa in the spring when the flowers that she loved so much will be blooming.  Please visit to offer the family condolences or to share a memory of Lisa.

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