CRESTON - After a long and full life, William "Bill" F. Ambrose, 84, died at his home on the original Ambrose homestead in Creston on Saturday, June 12, 2010, with family at his side. He died of natural causes, after a yearlong struggle with the effects of a stroke and Parkinson's disease.
Bill was born in Kalispell, on Oct. 9, 1925, the second of three children born to Thomas Henry and Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Sullivan) Ambrose.
Bill grew up on his dad's farm, a scant mile south of the Ambrose homestead where his grandparents lived. He was a true farm boy, through and through. Freckle-faced and mischievous, he worked the farm as a youngster and to well into his 70s. He walked to Echo School, a one room school where his father, and later his own children were educated. He graduated from Bigfork High School in 1943.
Unlike many of his generation, he could not enter the military but stayed on the home place helping his father and brother farm both the "Grant place" and the Ambrose farm. He tried his hand at stonemasonry with Anderson Masonry, but ultimately returned to farming, a way of life he embraced and loved. He could work a team of horses and was one of the last in the area to feed with a team and sled in winter. He literally went from a Model T, to riding in the cockpit of the Concorde, twice, to and from London.
As a young man, Bill met Louise while he was on a date with her older sister. Louise, smitten, told her brother, "I'm going to marry that man." On July 28, 1951, Bill married Louise Bartlett at St. Anne Church in Somers. He and Louise soon moved to the Ambrose homestead, where he remained for the remainder of his life. Theirs was a devoted partnership that lasted throughout all their years. Bill and Louise were blessed with daughters, four of them, but together, they raised independent women. He continued to farm in the Creston area until his retirement only a few years ago, brought on by ill health.
Bill was very involved with the community in which he lived. He was a charter member of the Creston Volunteer Fire Department, where he remained active for 53 years, continuing to work on the Board of Trustees until this year. He was also a member of the Eastside Grange, ASCS/Farm Services and Cenex Farmer's Union. Bill was active in the Catholic community of St. Catherine's parish in Bigfork, where he remained a member when the parish combined with St. Anne's to become Pope John Paul II.
Bill was fortunate to travel to Europe, England, Africa and Ireland, as well as many places in the United States, but he always kept his watch set to "Montana time." Bill was not much of a gypsy, and he always thought Montana, particularly Creston, was the best place to be. He enjoyed his regular meetings with his "coffee bunch" and loved to visit with old and new neighbors and friends all his life. He loved history; always reading about World War II, the Civil War and Montana history and was a great resource about the history of the Flathead Valley. But what he cherished most was his wife, his family, the farm, three meals a day (on time), coffee and gossip with friends and five evening news broadcasts. You couldn't speak to Bill or interrupt him during the noonday farm report without being shushed, even as grown women. Still, dad was our anchor, the only male in a household of women. No wonder he liked the solitude of tractor and field. We will miss you Dad. Good night, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Jimmy; and his sister, Mary Ruschman.
Dad is survived by his wife of 58 years, Louise, at the family home; his daughters, Colleen Ambrose (husband Earl) of Garrison, Kelly Ambrose Kelsey (husband Kim) of Gallatin Gateway, Kathleen Ambrose, and Patricia Ambrose; six grandchildren, Carrie and Raney Frick, Konnor, Kameron and Kyleen Kelsey and Madison Ambrose Hall, as well as two great-children, Brook and Jackson. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Elmer Ruschman, of Kentucky; and his niece Beth Finn; and nephew Tom Ruschman; and numerous cousins. On Louise's side, he is survived by his sister-in-law, Marlene Bartlett of Seeley Lake; and Mickey and Bonnie Bartlett of Vancouver, Wash.
We'd like to thank the Creston Fire Department for continuing to include Dad, especially this last year, and for making him feel so appreciated and respected. Special thanks to Lynn Kehoe and Heather Sullivan of Agape Home Services for their loving care of Bill and to the many friends who visited him at home over the past year.
A funeral mass has taken place at Pope John Paul II Catholic Church in Bigfork. Interment followed at C. E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, Bill's family suggests memorials to the Creston Fire Department: 4498 MT HWY 35, Kalispell, Montana 59901.
You are invited to go to www.jgfuneralhome.com to view Bill's tribute wall and share condolences.