William A. ‘Bill’ Christians III

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

William A. (Bill) Christians III, 88 of Denton passed away early Thursday morning, Feb. 28, 2019 in the Central Montana Medical Center of natural causes.

He was born Oct. 11, 1930 in Watertown, Wisconsin, the son of William Alfred and Ethel Louise (Ayers) Christians II. The family lived in Johnson Creek where he received his high school education. His mom owned and operated the Rock River Telephone Company. His dad owned the Haufbrau House, which housed a bar, bowling alley and dance floor, and was the postmaster of the Johnson Creek Post Office.

As a young kid, he sold popcorn for the dances and set the bowling pins by hand at the bowling alley. In the fall of 1951, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served temporary duty in Ireland and was stationed in England as a veterinarian technician. While in Dublin he met his Irish Colleen and the love of his live, Mary Theresa O’Brien. They were united in marriage on May 19, 1953 in the Pro-Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

In 1958 he attended and completed Officer Candidate School and received the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to earn his master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State. He continued in the Air Force, serving in California, Okinawa, South Dakota, Vietnam, Thailand, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana. While in South Dakota working in the missile silos with his partner, he was featured in the Nov. 6, 1964 issue of “Life” magazine in a story titled “Holding the Nuclear Trigger,” the “Gold Finger Edition.” In Vietnam he earned a Bronze Star, and in 1972 was away from his family commanding a remote radar station in Alaska. He retired May 31, 1973 at the rank of Major.

His dream of owning a ranch came true when stationed in Rapid City, South Dakota. He and Mary purchased 160 acres in the Black Hills of South Dakota with 28 cows. When Bill was transferred to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls they sold that place, and a short time later bought the Harold Lee place north of Denton, on Everson Bench. While on this ranch, he continued to expand the operation until they sold the main ranch in 2006. At that time, they moved closer to Denton, while keeping a little bit of land to hay, graze and farm. Bill and Mary had a few auctions but could never truly let go of having a swather, tractor and baler to provide him the frustrations of breakdowns. Just this past summer, Bill put up his last crop of hay.

Bill loved hunting deer, antelope and elk in South Dakota and Montana, as well as bear and caribou in Alaska, but mostly Bill enjoyed helping others hunt deer, pheasants and sharped tail grouse on his ranch on Everson Bench. He also loved taking his pride and joy, horse Paydirt, into the Scapegoat Wilderness to hunt elk. As an avid hunter, Bill enjoyed telling stories from his excellent memory, as he could remember all the details and names, even from his childhood.

Bill is survived by his wife of 65+ years, Mary; sons William A. IV of Wilsall, Montana, John (Laurel) of Wolf Point, and Karl (Rae Lynn) of Helena; daughters Marie Christians of Hobson, and Kathleen (Steve) Rogers of Alabama; one sister Susan Clark of Bozeman; nine grandchildren, two greatgrandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and one sister.

Funeral Mass for William A. (Bill) Christians III will be March 9, at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Denton, with committal to be at the Montana Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison in Helena on Monday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Friends are asked to make memorials to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The American Cancer Society or the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.

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