ST. IGNATIUS — William Alfred Farrow Heppell, a self-described “mean, ornery, contrary, cantankerous, and very, very difficult to get along with man,” passed away peacefully Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Of course, Bill was very much the opposite of his self-description. He had spent the last eight months under the exceptional care of the staff at The Pines of Mission Assisted Living Facility in St. Ignatius.
Bill was born Jan. 31, 1926, in Sheffield County, England. Bill and his mother immigrated to New South Wales, Australia. At the age of 15, he entered a five year apprenticeship with the Sydney Technical College to learn the machinist trade. His skill was exceptional as evidenced by the many letters written by his employers over the years. At the age of 32, his wanderlust began with a five month solo (other than his car and dog) tour of Australia. Over the years, he would return to his trade only to save for his next adventure. At the age of 42, with a carefully outfitted camper, Bill spent five years traveling through Europe, Africa, Mexico, Canada, Singapore and the Middle East. He met a Montana girl, Maryon, during his travels. In 1973, they married in Rhodesia. The couple returned to Australia and built a home, but Maryon’s desire to return home to Montana brought the couple here in 1977. In 1984 Bill became an American citizen, though he never lost his love of Australia. On the back of his camper was a sign “G’day mates, have a bonzer day”. Bill purchased, remodeled and managed rentals in Kalispell area until the couple divorced in 1991.
The next 26 years were spent between his little greenhouse behind the church in Ravalli, his home on wheels and his second home in Polson with the Winegart (John and Lisa) family. He had a wonderful way with animals.
Frugality was an art for Bill. He studied the sales flyers weekly. He once left a grocery store with sacks of food as well as more money in his wallet than before entering! Over the years he had given his prized camper to a family in need and financially helped more than one person in distress.
Bill is survived by siblings: Shelia, Norman, Frank and Peter (Australia).
The absence of your serenades is noted. You served your time well, Mr. Bill!
Messages of condolence and memories of Bill may be sent online at shriderthompson.com. Cremation has taken place and no services are planned at this time. Arrangements for Bill are under the care of Shrider-Thompson Funeral Home, Ronan.