William (Bill) Lewis
William (Bill) Lewis, 100, of Lewistown and longtime Grass Range area resident died Saturday morning, March 4, 2017 in an assisted living facility in Lewistown of natural causes.
A well-known cattleman, horseman and gentleman born Dec. 22, 1916 in Roundup, Montana, the son of John Victor and Lena (Girardin) Lewis of Rothiemay, Montana, left to ride God’s trails. As the eldest child, it was his responsibility to harness a team of horses to take six siblings 5.2 miles in a spring wagon to the Clara Elementary School. During the winter months, heated rocks were wrapped in blankets and placed in a sled pulled by a team of horses to keep everyone warm. During high school, basketball was a favorite sport that was enjoyed throughout his entire life. After high school, Bill broke most of the work and saddle horses that were used on the family ranch for farming, haying, moving livestock, building dams and transportation from place to place. During the ‘30s and ‘40s, Bill Lewis of Clara was listed the champion earth fill dam builder using horses. According to Bill those dam projects were a great way to break horses.
Before being shipped to England as part of the Fourth Armored Division of Patton’s Army at the Battle of the Budge in 1942, Bill was stationed in Pine Camp near Watertown, New York, where he met his wife to be, Dorothy Miller, at a united service organization social. In 1945, Bill was seriously wounded in Germany and flown to a hospital in England. After a short stay in England, he was transferred to California where he was hospitalized for one year before being honorably discharged from the United States Army, Bill received the purple heart as a reminder for gallantry and essential service.
On Feb. 5, 1946, he was united in marriage to Dorothy Miller in Roundup, Montana, whom he met in New York.
Bill and his brother Dave bought the south fork of the Flatwillow Creek Ranch in the Little Snowy Mountains in 1948 and the Buckler Ranch near Grass Range in 1952, together they operated a very successful cattle ranch under the name of Lewis Brothers.
Bill was active in family, community and state organizations since Grass Range School was a high priority, he was President of the PTA, avid basketball fan, participated in school club fundraisers, supported teachers and expected high achievements from his two daughters. He was a director of the Federal Land Band and the Winnett Grazing District for many years, active Stock Grower member, Lifetime Mason, Board Member of the Yellowstone Boys Ranch, Fergus County 4-H Foundation Supporter, member of the Grass Range Methodist Church and attended most cattle auctions and bull sales. If the day was not over, he would take time to play a hand of bridge, pinochle or pitch. Bill lived the western way of life by displaying hard work, courage, determination, honesty, respect and fulfilling a dream.
He is survived by his two daughters, Linda Eklund of Shawmut, Mont. and Bonnie Tuss of Grass Range; grandsons J.R. Tuss of Grass Range, Dustin (Alisha) Tuss of Billings; one great-granddaughter Sophie Tuss and one great grandson Ryder Tuss; one brother Edgar (Ann) of Lavina, Mont.; one sister Helen Lehfeldt of Billings and several nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife in 2008, his parents, brothers Dave, Jack and Clayton and sister Eleanor Newton.
Services for Bill Lewis will be Friday, March 10, at 2 p.m. in the Cloyd Chapel with interment to follow in Central Montana Memorial Gardens of Lewistown. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Friends are asked to make memorials to the Grass Range Ambulance Fund, Grass Range Methodist Church or the charity of their choice and they may be left at the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.