Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service

William Bridger

September 6, 1934 ~ February 19, 2019

William "Bill" Bridger passed away February 19, 2019 at St. Patrick's Hospital in Missoula, MT, following complications from heart surgery. At the time of his passing, Bill was surrounded by family.  He was born on September 6, 1934 in Lewistown, MT to Allan and Edna Bridger.  

Bill was raised on a ranch that was 25 miles from Winnett, MT which was homesteaded by his grandfather in the 1800's.  He could tell many a story about his ranch life, having to haul their water five miles and fighting wildfires.  He started his schooling in one room school houses and then transferred to the grade school in Winnett, MT.  In 1954, he graduated from Winnett High School where he was the point guard for the basketball team, pitcher for the baseball team and quarterback for the football team, a four-year letterman.  After high school, he went to Montana State College and then to the Army.  Following his time in the service, Bill had several jobs throughout Montana.  He later returned to Bozeman to go back to college where he ultimately graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting from MSC in 1964 after completing three years of accounting classes in only two years.

During his many decades living in Bozeman, he was the accounting manager at Rolfe and Wood, then he became the Payroll/Personnel director at Montana State University.   In 1974, he went to work at Modellog Homes in Gallatin Gateway, MT as the comptroller where he managed that account plus 4 other subsidiaries until his retirement.

In 1975, he married the love of his life, Mary, where they began a life of adventures, love and laughter.  He and his wife loved to travel and took numerous trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and Hawaii.  The last trip they took was to New Orleans in January because that city was on Bill's "bucket list”.  He wanted to eat his fill of oysters on the half shell and listen to jazz and he did just that. 

At the age of 42, Bill found the game of golf.  His wife searched Montana high and low for a set of left handed wooden golf clubs.  Every year after, he would tell his wife, "Honey, I think I have figured out my swing this year."  Friends and family can attest that he never really did find his swing, but he certainly enjoyed playing golf just the same.  He would play in the most inclement weather just to play a round as his friends can attest.  Bill and Mary played golf on many many courses throughout their years.

Bill was a true gentleman and was an extremely compassionate man.  He never said a bad word about anyone, well that's not entirely true, he could sure debate about politics.  He loved his wife and family to the fullest and expressed his love for them as often as he could.  He ended every phone call with an “I love you”.  He taught his kids how to swim, ride bikes, play basketball, baseball, golf, drive, just too many things to list.  He beamed with delight at every success his kids achieved as children and adults.  He also loved coaching young people, so he became a little league coach and then coached girls softball for 8 years.  

Bill truly appreciated Mother Nature and loved to be in the outdoors.  He had many hunting experiences for both big game and birds, he liked to travel with his buddies to Saskatchewan to fish and loved going to Yellowstone Park just to see the animals. Many of his birthdays were spent with a picnic lunch at Lamar Valley in Yellowstone.  

Bill was a 35-year member of Riverside Country Club, a lifetime member of the BPOE and belonged to the American Legion.  

To say that Bill will be missed by family and friends is an understatement.  Bill's passing will leave a void in the lives of everyone who knew and loved him.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 43 years, Mary; daughter, Lynn (Mike) Eggebrecht of Billings; son, Larry (Rae) Bridger of Sheridan, WY; and daughter, Katie (Brad) Pierson of Denver, CO.  He is also survived by his brother, Jim (Wilene) of Kalispell, MT; sisters-in-law, Marit Bridger of Kalispell, and Barb (Ken) Tonn of Bozeman; and four grandchildren and nephews and nieces. 
Per Bill's request, private family services are planned.  Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.