Warren Lewis Willmore

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Warren Lewis Willmore, 96, of Roy, passed away on June 11, 2018 at home with his family by his side. Warren was born Nov. 8, 1921, the coldest day of the 1921/1922 winter in a small house near Spring Creek in Lewistown to Louis “Curley” and Martha (Danger Hanson) Willmore. He didn’t make it home on the homestead until April, and there he remained the rest of his life, with the exception of a couple of years during the terrible drought in the ‘30s.

The world changed dramatically during his lifetime: from horse and buggy to soaring jets, from farming a few acres a day with a team to farming over a hundred acres with big equipment; from gas lanterns to electric lights, and from seeing this country and wild open spaces go to fences and a highway that connected the northern part of the state to the southern, and gave him an opportunity to go and explore the Little Rockies he had gazed at as a child and wondered what was there.

During the drought of the ‘30s, the family moved to the western part of the state with their livestock, which they had to eventually sell. During this time, they bought a business and ran a mail route at Trout Creek, and Warren got to attend a year of high school at the boarding school in Thompson Falls.

School was always a haphazard affair; it depended on whether the district had enough money to hold school (if only for a couple of months) and whether there were enough kids that would attend. He boarded out much of the time, and rode horseback to school at others. He attended numerous rural oneroom schools. Finally, he got to attend another year of high school in Roy after they returned from Trout Creek.

That was short lived though, as his parents had to return to take back their business and took his brother with them, leaving Warren to tend to the ranch. That was the end of any schooling and he took over the ranch at the age of 17. From then on, he lived alone for much of the time, keeping up with world and local events by riding horseback to the neighbors to visit.

He rode the range when it was still open and there were no fences, and spent many a night under the stars when roundup time came along. He ate many lunches with his saddle as his chair, and ants, flies and snakes as guests; hence his dislike of eating outdoors at any time or place.

When WWII came along he rode with dozens of others on the train to Helena to take their physicals, only to be rejected because of a severely deformed back caused by an injury when he fell off the hay wagon when he was 5. So, while his friends all marched off to war he remained behind; something he forever felt guilty about.

He remembered the stop that Lindbergh made in Roy during one of his barn hopping trips across the country, and he also remembered a plane crash that happened a few miles south of his home that was kept pretty hush-hush. The area was well guarded until the wreckage could be cleaned up.

He never traveled far from home until he married Illa LeBrun in 1952, and together they made several trips with their young family to Oregon, Northern California, Alberta Canada to visit relatives, and to Minnesota to visit his sister, whom he did not get to know until he was in his 30s. A couple of memorable trips were made to Washington, D.C., and to Hawaii, which were highlights of his life. He was always glad his children got to travel a bit and see the things he only read about. But he was more content to remain at home. He was very proud of the accomplishments of his three sons, but he only bragged about them when they were out of earshot.

Warren served on rural school boards and was on the Roy Fire Board for many years. He was a member of the Indian Butte Grazing District, once serving as president. Warren also assisted the Rural Electric Association when they strung electric lines down through the Breaks along Highway 191 with his team of horses in the 1960s.

He was deeply saddened by the death of his only daughter, Dawn Marie, and his oldest grandson, Dustin Lewis Willmore, while they were still very young. He was also preceded in death by his parents, brother Bob and sister Lucille Todora, all of his cousins, aunts, uncles, his childhood playmates and classmates.

He is survived by his wife Illa and sons Ralph (Shelly) and Jeff (Sue) all of Roy, and Ken (Deb) of Lewistown; grandchildren Misty (Jason) Pitts of Roberts, Mont., Roxie (Jay) Harrison of Wibaux, Mont., Hallie (Jason) Olson of Holdrege, Neb., Amber (Ed Stahl) and Amanda (Blake) Murray of Froid, Mont., Nicole (Kyle) Senner of Richey, Mont., Casey (Bronya) Willmore of Denton, Mont., and Matt (Jayme) Willmore of Roy, Mont.; greatgrandchildren, Garret and McKenzie Pitts, Zeke Harrison, Hadley Olsen, Keith, Missouri and Jacob Kalal, Leah, Bryce and Kade Murray, Quincy Willmore and Austin, Wesley and Mirra Lynn Willmore; special nephew Skip Willmore of Burney, Calif. and a very special acquired family members Rick (Mandy) Olson of Shepherd, Mont., Vicki Nunn of Roberts, Mont., Dusty (Jorden) Deupree and children Colter, Madison and Brayden of Moore, Mont., Cody (Mandy) Deupree and their children Mark, Callie and Camrie of Utica, Mont.

Private Memorial Services for Warren L. Willmore will be held at a later date, cremation has taken place. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Friends are asked to make memorials to Hospice of Central Montana, Roy Ambulance, Roy Endowment or the charity of their choice, and they may be left at Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com

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