March 23, 1924-Sept. 3, 2017
William “Bill” (Dad) George DeWolf passed away on Sept. 3, 2017 at the age of 93. He was born on March 23, 1924 in Cambridge, MA to Anna May (Schreiner) and Frederic Arthur DeWolf. Dad was the second of their four children, hailing from a long line of Montana pioneers. His mother's family was one of the first to settle in Broadwater County in 1885. His parents settled permanently in the Helena area when he was 3 years old.
Dad graduated from Helena High School in 1942. A talented athlete, he lettered all four years of high school in track, basketball and football. He played football for the Carroll College Saints. He also played in the Helena City Basketball League claiming his team beat the Harlem Globetrotters.
A World War II veteran, Dad joined the Navy in 1943 and served with the Amphibious Forces in the South Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division. He saw heavy combat in Abemama, the Marshall and Mariana Islands, and fought in the battle of Tarawa in the Gilberts. In 1945, he transferred to the submarine service stationed in the Atlantic and served on the USS Crevalle. When the war ended he returned to Helena and joined the Army National Guard serving from 1949 to 1957, where he was the third commander of the 3669 Ordinance Company. Eventually, Dad transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Harrison retiring as a major in 1976. He was very proud of his 33 years of military service.
In 1946, Dad married Betty Mae Coleman and together they had eight children. Their huge backyard and house on Choteau Street were always filled with kids (their own and other’s) and everyone was welcome at meal times. Both parents were active in school and sports activities including baseball, PTA, Scouts, and the Kessler School Carnivals. Their children have wonderful memories of family picnics and long Sunday afternoon drives on the back roads of Montana.
The DeWolf family owned and operated the Union Market from 1945 to 1989. Dad was the last of the iconic Union Market "By Golly Boys" where he set the standard for the meat cutting craft. He and his brothers, Fred and George, sister Joanie, and longtime friend, Wally Hart, ran the family business along with their parents, Mom and Pop. Many Helenans happily remember the friendly and cheerful customer service, the silly jokes and the free hotdogs. The Union Market was a darn fun place to get groceries, by golly!
During Helena's urban renewal, the city planned to demolish the Union Market block. Dad chose to fight back. He busted down barriers and cut chains blocking Jackson Street. Eventually the legal battle went to the Montana Supreme Court and Dad won! He was proud that he was able to preserve the property. Helena still mourns the loss of the Marlow Theatre and many beautiful historic landmarks, but the Union Market block is standing today because of Dad's tenacity and determination to save his store.
The business remained open until 1989 at which time the family sold the market and Dad retired. Working with him at the store grinding hamburger, stocking shelves and delivering groceries, his children learned that hard work leads to success.
After his marriage with Betty Mae ended, Dad fell in love with Glenna Buck and they were together 34 years. At their "ranch" they shared a wonderful life gardening, feeding the birds and horses, and giving his grandchildren and great-grandchildren rides on his four-wheeler.
The last years of Dad's life were spent at Hunters Pointe where he made many friends and enjoyed all their activities including ice cream socials, bingo, and bowling.
The greatest gifts from Dad were his quick wit, sense of humor and positive outlook on life. Nothing ever got him down and he always helped others to live life to the fullest. He was very proud of his family and loved them with all his heart.
Surviving him are his children, David, Denise Martin (Dennis), Dawn, Daniel Coleman (Sonja Stromberg), William "Biff”, and Toby; his sister, Joan Kain; nine grandchildren, Annie DeWolf-Hibbs (Matthew Hibbs), Matt (Yuehli), Megan Stearns (Mike), Tracy, Erin Westby (Russ), Kim Martin, Chet Martin, Molly Bull (Mykel), and Danielle; eight great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death are his two children, Daniel George and Stacie Ann; brothers, Fred and George; Betty Mae DeWolf, Glenna Buck, Jane (Maronick) DeWolf and Marianne (George) DeWolf.
The family extends our deepest appreciation to the residents and staff at Hunters Pointe and gratitude for the excellent care provided by the doctors, nurses, and staff at the VA Hospital at Fort Harrison
A memorial service celebrating Bill’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. A reception will follow the service in the social hall of the funeral home. Graveside services will follow the reception at 3 p.m. at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Stacie Ann DeWolf Scholarship Fund at the University of Montana School of Forestry http://www.cfc.umt.edu/resources/scholarships/fcfc-scholarships/, the Montana Military Museum https://www.montanamilitarymuseum.org or the Montana Veterans Foundation http://www.mtvf.org are greatly appreciated. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Bill.