• Date Of Birth: October 23, 1921
  • Date Of Death: December 27, 2015
  • State: Montana

                William B. Roberts was born October 23, 1921 in Los Angeles, CA to Ralph and Elizabeth Rathbun Bell. In 1927, he moved to Great Falls with his mother and became the adopted son of Elmore Roberts. He attended and graduated from Midland, a preparatory and boarding school in Los Olivos, CA.

                With the onset of WWII Bill immediately signed up for officers training with the Navy. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1944 after only three years with a degree in Economics and began his military service as an officer in charge of a LCT in the Pacific Theater. His active Navy duty was completed in 1946. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1952, and retired as a Captain in 1981.

                Bill married Mary Agnes Graham, “the girl next door”, on July 19, 1947. Last summer was their 68th anniversary. They had two children, Geoffrey and Jane.

                For three years, he joined his brother-in-law, Bob Graham as a co-owner/operator of a Culligan Soft Water service outlet in Kalispell.

                In 1949, he became employed at the B.P. McNair Company, a real estate property management and insurance business.  In time, he purchased the business. Bill was the first in the state of Montana to receive a CPM (Certified Property Manager). He was in the first Montana class that received the designation of CIC. He later received his Charter CIC.  He served on the National Advisory Councils of the Travelers and St. Paul insurance companies. Over the years he received numerous awards from the insurance industry. He was President of the Independent Insurance Agents of MT (1980-1981) and President of the Montana Insurance Educational Foundation (1986-1987).  Bill retired as President of Roberts & Erwin, Inc. in 1990.

                Bill loved Great Falls. He felt the community was his home, just as his house was his home. He said he knew people who take as much as they can from the community and give nothing back.

                For many years, Bill was a co-trustee of the Roberts Family Memorial Fund. It was dissolved a few years ago.

                Bill always had to be active.  He excelled in soccer in college. He enjoyed pheasant hunting, but eventually turned in his gun for a camera. He was perhaps most challenged in life by his game of golf. He was a member of the Meadowlark Country Club and won many club championships. And, he had more than one hole-in-one.  He loved fly fishing and tied his own flies. He fished all over the state and in Alaska, but particularly loved the Boulder River where he vacationed every summer with his family for over 50 years.

                Bill loved Kings Hill (now Showdown) and said if not for Kings Hill he may not have stayed in this area. In 1964, he co-founded and became the “fearless leader” of the Ski Bums, a group of men that wanted to check out other ski areas. Each year, for over 40 years, they travelled throughout the west, Canada and Europe. At the peak, the Ski Bums had 200 members. Bill orchestrated each pilgrimage, one time with as many as 56 in tow. Their original signature was a red beanie cap with a yellow pom pom that evolved to a tam, keeping the yellow ball.

                Bill became a Master Gardener and volunteered with the Cascade County Extension office by answering gardening questions. He added a greenhouse on to his home and grew plants each year for his yard and to give away to friends.

                Bill loved animals and always had one by his side.

                Bill was a respected businessman, a very active and involved community volunteer and enthusiastic sportsman. But, the comment that stands out from many people, from all walks of life, is that “Bill was just a lot of fun.”

                At the age of 94, Bill Roberts died December 27, 2015.

                He cared deeply for his wife, children and many friends.  He is survived by his wife, Mary Agnes Roberts, daughter Jane Roberts, son Geoff (Nancy) Roberts, grandsons Zachary Roberts and Jay (Jennifer) Roberts, and great-grandsons Riley Roberts and Connor Roberts.

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