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How rare is it for someone to 'lie in state' in the Montana Capitol?

Dan Boyce

A closed casket viewing was held in the Capitol building’s rotunda this for the public to pay respects for former Montana First Lady Betty Babcock.

The wife of former Governor Tim Babcock died this past Sunday at age 91.

It’s rare for anybody to lie in state in Montana’s seat of public power.

Former Governor Tom Judge’s casket was given a public viewing after he died in 2006. That was in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, on the third floor.  

The last time anyone lay in state in the main Rotunda was in 1962—Governor Donald Nutter who died in a plane crash after a year in office. His death moved Lieutenant Governor Tim Babcock into the Governor’s seat. Betty Babcock became first lady.

Chief Program and Information Officer at the Department of Administration, Sheryl Olson said there isn't any specific policy or law on the books detailing what it takes to lie in state in the Capitol.

"So, in this situation the family requested that Mrs. Babcock lie in state in the capitol, and we were very pleased to honor that," she said.

It was ok’d by the Department of Administration and by the Office of Governor Steve Bullock.

“She was an incredible lady that contributed so much,” Bullock said. “She was someone who stayed engaged in Montana all throughout her life.”

Betty Babcock’s funeral was held today in Helena.

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