Cover photo for Bill E. McQuirk's Obituary
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1969 Bill 2021

Bill E. McQuirk

December 31, 1969 — October 9, 2021

Bill Earl McQuirk passed peacefully on October 9, 2021, at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, MT. Born on September 2, 1933, to parents Peggy and Earl McQuirk of Billings, MT, he was one of four children raised in Great Falls.

His life of 88 years paints a legacy of two portraits. To the outside world, Bill was always dressed for success and the living embodiment of hard work, drive, determination, uncompromising work ethic, and multitudes of business success. To the inner world of his immediate family, Bill’s legacy shines brightest as a devoted father and loving husband. He was fiercely protective of his family and effusively proud of his children and grandchildren. He was a devout Catholic, fitness fanatic, and always a man with a plan - be it weekends at Flathead Lake or endless ski days at Snowbowl Mountain.

Upon graduating from Great Falls High School in 1952, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy and proudly served for two years during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1954, after which he returned to Great Falls and met his first love, Betty Jo (BJ) Gleason. The young couple married a year later in 1955 and were blessed to have four beautiful, healthy children: Mark, Lori, Kari, and Tiffany.

Newlywed, Bill worked full-time at Safeway in Great Falls, MT, while taking classes at the College of Great Falls and tending to his budding new family. After graduating from college in 1958, Bill was promoted to regional manager of the Safeway stores and later transferred to Missoula.

Never one to shy away from a new challenge, in 1963, Bill left his post at Safeway and set out on his own to open the Heidelhaus restaurant, the first in his portfolio of many notable food and beverage establishments in Missoula, MT. Locals will readily recall his iconic haunts: The Heidelhaus, The Library, Trading Post Saloon, Fairway Liquor Store and Lounge, The Red Barron, The Rodeo Club, The Monks Cave, Rocky Mountain Grill, Lucky Buck Casino, and Cyrus Skinners Steak House.

In 1984, Bill and his first wife, BJ, parted in divorce. In 1985, he married his second love, Barbara Buckelew, who remained devotedly at his side until his passing.

In the early 90s, Bill set his sites on another business pursuit -real estate. He adeptly leveraged over three decades of experience negotiating real estate deals for his F&B properties into a second career as a top-producing commercial real estate broker for Lambros Realty. Fondly referred to by his peers as the “closer,” Bill emerged as a leader in the field, forming the McQuirk Group and earning countless accolades over the years as a ‘Top Producer.’

Despite his tireless fitness and work regimen, Bill always made time for his beloved family and was undoubtedly happiest when they were all together. Barb thought of him as an honorary camp counselor who always enjoyed creating a fun environment for the kids to gather and hang out with their friends. Skiing was one of his favorite things to do as a family. The kids fondly remember skiing Snowbowl mountain from sun up till sundown. Barb never tired of watching Bill dance a waltz as he swayed
effortlessly down the slopes.

In his later years, after the kids were grown, Bill relished in the daily routine of Montana life, always with Barb at his side. They settled into their 120-acre ranch in Evaro, MT, a sanctuary retreat where Bill would unwind in the calmness of nature and enjoy hobbies like calf roping with his favorite wily horse named Satan. When not at the ranch, Bill and Barb enjoyed weekends at Flathead Lake, vacationing in Hawaii, and spending time with the children and grandchildren.

As those who knew him well could attest, Bill was not wired for retirement. He worked well into his mid-eighties before finally settling into a slower pace of life. His love for family and penchant for setting a high bar continues to resonate strongly through all his children and grandchildren. His legacy, both personal and professional, will remain an inspiration and badge of honor to all those he left behind.

Bill is preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Nancy Odegard and Patricia Walker. He is survived by his wife Barbara Buckelew McQuirk and ex-wife BJ McQuirk; his children Mark (Ellen), Lori Guay (Geary), Kari Gosney (Wallace), and Tiffany (Gordon Gray); his grandchildren Ryan Guay, Taylor Guay, 1st Lieutenant Gabriel Gosney, Kellan Vallance; and his sister Sheila Wardinsky.

Memorial service to be held October 23, 2021, at 10 am at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, followed by a memorial reception at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula, MT.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations made in Bill’s name to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, https://www.sfxmissoula.org/donate/
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bill E. McQuirk, please visit our flower store.

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