Willard Clair “Bill” Parker, 93, died Wednesday, July 18, 2012 of natural causes at Fort Benton, Montana.
At his request, there will be no services, and cremation will be handled by O’Conner Funeral Home.
Bill was born October 1, 1918, in Kalispell, and grew up in Libby where he acquired a deep and lasting love of the outdoors, and of photography as a hobby. His Montana roots are deep – his maternal grandfather, Bion Swim, settled in the Flathead Valley in the 1870’s, before the town of Kalispell existed.
Bill entered the army in 1941 and served with the 41st Infantry Division in the Southwest Pacific Area. Upon his honorable discharge from the army in October 1945, he resumed his education at the University of Washington in Seattle. In March 1946, he married Jean Wetzel of Eureka, MT, also a deeply-rooted Montana, whose maternal forebears date back to the 1860’s in the Tobacco Valley.
Bill and Jean moved to Spokane, WA in 1948 where he finished his education in Accounting and Business Administration with Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Kinman Business University in 1951. He was employed as office manager and treasurer of Riegal Brothers, Inc., a Dodge, Plymouth, and Dodge Truck distributor, and a warehouse distributor for automotive parts and equipment. Upon the death of the Riegels, he and Scott Lancaster purchased the wholesale parts business and operated it as Parts Wholesalers, Inc., also doing business as Automotive Jobbers Supply Co. In March, 1979, the business was sold, and he retired so that he and his wife might enjoy their golden years travelling, trailering, and pursuing hobbies neglected by demand of the business. In 1994, he and his wife moved to Great Falls, to be nearer to family. His wife, Jean, passed away in 2009.
Survivors include two daughters, Linda (Gary) Hurley of Newport, OR and Claire (Robert) Darling of Fort Benton; three grandsons, and two great-granddaughters.