William Clifford St. John of Missoula died on September the 6th 2016 at St. Patrick hospital. He was 85.
Bill was born on July 10th, 1931 in Billings to Dora and William St. John of Custer. He was the youngest of three children, the oldest being his brother Bud, then his sister Mildred. He was raised on the family ranch in Custer and graduated from Custer High School on May 26th, 1950.
He enlisted in the US Navy on March 7, 1955. He served on the destroyer escort U.S.S. Hammerberg and the submarine U.S.S. Serago, on which he served in the Korean War.
While on station, Bill met and married Eleanor Lowney in 1959. They had two children, Kathleen Doris St. John, and William Thomas St. John. William also had another daughter, Mary-Beth from a very short lived marriage.
William loved animals and plants of all kinds. While he lived in Custer, he would bring home young animals abandoned along the train tracks and bottle feed them to health on the ranch. He grew particularly attached to one horse named Babe, and later his dog Muttly was completely inseparable from him. He was a member of the Missoula Iris Society and won many ribbons for his Irises and Dahlias. William’s home boomed with blooms every year, and he passed the tradition and skills to his children and grandchildren.
William spent much of his time hard at work as well. His jobs included chef, cabbie, miller, miner, construction worker and contractor. He built bridges in Billings, and worked two jobs as a head chef and a lead miner in Denver. He took his family to Missoula to learn electronics repair in 1969, and there they stayed. William ended up opening his own contracting business, Bill’s Construction, which focused on general construction and roofing. He gave back to the Iris Society he enjoyed so much by re-roofing their gazebo when the time came.
When he found time away from work and his gardens, William loved to play cards, including pinochle, poker, black jack, and especially cribbage. He was a fixture at tournaments in the area for many years. William loved watching Grizzly football and Lady Griz basketball. He held season tickets for the same seats in the north end zone of Washington Grizzly Stadium for many years, until his health prevented him going.
William is survived by his brother Bud, sister-in-law Sally, daughter Kathleen, son William, his wife Nikki, grandsons Thomas, Christopher and Sam, Mildred’s children Susie, Willy, John and Pam, and Bud’s children Deb, Duke, and Tim.