Cover photo for Dr. William Bernard "Bill" Bekemeyer's Obituary
Dr. William Bernard "Bill" Bekemeyer Profile Photo
1952 Dr. 2022

Dr. William Bernard "Bill" Bekemeyer

June 1, 1952 — June 19, 2022

Dr. William Bernard Bekemeyer of Missoula, MT, passed away Sunday, June 19 at his home from pancreatic cancer.

Bill was born to William B. (Pete) and Martha Mae Bekemeyer in Memphis, Tennessee on June 1, 1952. Bill was exceedingly grateful for a second set of parents as his childless aunt Lois and uncle Bill lived across the street with maternal grandmother Bertha.

Bill attended undergraduate school at University of Tennessee at Martin followed by medical school at the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in Memphis, graduating in 1976. He did his internship, internal medicine residency and was chief medical resident at the University of Tennessee. He did pulmonary and critical fellowships at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City prior to returning to the University of Tennessee as assistant professor of medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division.

Bill met the love of his life LeighAnn Jensen in Salt Lake City and they wed in 1983. They moved to Missoula in 1986 where Bill took a position at Western Montana Clinic practicing internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine. It is here that they raised their beautiful daughter, Petra. Bill enjoyed fishing from an early age and took on flyfishing in his teenage years. After arriving in Montana, he reveled in fishing riparian zones alone and with close friends Paul, Vince, George, Jim, Suresh, Mike, David, and Stan. There were many different ecosystems in his angling travels and he marveled at the design, coloration and variation in the species and their ability to share space with other fish and insects.

While at Western Montana Clinic, Bill served several years on the executive committee and three years as President of the Clinic from 2000-2002 and as Board Chair of Tamarack Services from 2007-2012. Bill provided full attention and exceptional care to his patients in private practice clinical medicine at Western Montana Clinic from 1986-2017.

At Providence St. Patrick and subsequently Providence Montana he served as Medical Staff President in 1995, Board member 1997-1999, Board Quality and Safety Committee from 2015-2020, Chair 2015-2017, Chair of the Board Patient and Staff Experience Committee in 2018-2019, Providence Montana Foundation Board in 2004-2009, Foundation Steering Committee 2020-2021, Providence Montana Community Mission Board from 2015-2020 and Chair of this Board from 2017-2020. He received an award as Trustee of the Year from the Montana Hospital Association for 2021.

Bill served on multiple Medical Staff committees over the years at St. Patrick Hospital including Medical Executive, Medical Ethics, Credentials, Intensive Care, Stroke, Department of Medicine and Department of Surgery. He became clinical associate professor and clinical professor at University of Washington and received Professor of the year. He was the Medical Director of the School of Respiratory Therapy – University of Montana College of Technology. Bill was a Faculty Affiliate at the University of Montana School of Pharmacy (1987-2007). From 2000-2003 he served as Governor for Montana of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Teaching was a large part of Bill’s professional activity in compliance with his philosophy of passing along knowledge to the next generation of healthcare providers. He encouraged “learning how to learn,” how to understand data driven evidence-based medicine, and critical review of scientific literature.

Bill was most proud of the many patient quality awards earned by Providence Montana including Magnet Hospital designation (and redesignation in 2018); US News and World Report’s top hospital in Montana (2019, 2020); Practice Greenhealth Award (2019); Leapfrog “A”grades for safety for twelve successive evaluation periods; CMS 5-star quality rating (2017, 2019); and Joint Commission Accreditation Award (2018-2021).

Many people had the privilege of knowing Bill and their consensus of his life would most likely be summed up the same: the only trait that exceeded his intelligence was his unending kindness. His integrity was outdone only by his limitless compassion. His work ethic was surpassed only by the depth of grace he had for his loved ones and for the people in his community. Bill saved countless lives during the course of his medical career and he made a profound impact on all whom he met.

Bill is survived by his beautiful wife of 39 years LeighAnn Bekemeyer. Their daughter Petra Lee Sessions lives with her caring husband Jared in Idaho Falls along with two grandchildren Mykayla Marie and Maddox Michael. Bill’s sister Carol Ann Todd lives in Richmond Virginia with her loving husband William McClintock (Mac) Todd.

Bill was sincerely grateful to his cherished friends Minette Long and Mike Beckel for their help and support during his sickness and for their lifelong friendship.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Missoula Alliance Church, 100 East Foss Court, Missoula, Montana on Saturday July 9th, 2022 at 10:00 AM. Masks are requested for in person attendance for the safety of all.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to be made to the Dr. William “Bill” Bekemeyer Scholarship Endowment at the Providence Montana Health Foundation. Donations can be made online or by mail.
In the “I would like to support” section select: Dr William Bekemeyer Endowed Scholarship
Fill out the Additional, Billing and Tribute Information sections.

By Mail

Cash or checks payable to: Providence Montana Health Foundation (PMHF)
Memo: Bekemeyer Endowed Scholarship
502 W. Spruce Street
Missoula MT 59802

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. William Bernard "Bill" Bekemeyer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, July 9, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain time)

Missoula Alliance Church

100 E Foss Ct, Missoula, MT 59803

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