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William ("Bill") Fredrick Smith, 81, of Swan Lake, MT, passed away on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, of natural causes.
He was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, but was a Montana man through and through and spent his early days growing up in Sweet Grass, Montana. His parents Mary and George Smith ran a farm east of town and a bar, the Border Inn, in Sweetgrass where Bill would occasionally bartend and keep the peace.
He was wonderfully smart and always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Bill was the first in his family to go to university, first for a year in Oklahoma, then finishing up at Montana State University studying agricultural economics.
He took a trip up to Calgary after graduating and by luck (of which he always had ample, perhaps due to his southern habit of starting every year with black-eyed peas) found both a job and a future wife, Patricia A Smith of Calgary, AB. When she went on an extended trip backpacking with friends around Europe, he saved up to meet up with her there. They ended up getting married in Gibraltar in late '60s.
They raised a beautiful family together in Calgary. She was an English teacher and he started a small business, AgWest, which became a large business, International Fertilizer Systems. He traveled extensively for work and pleasure, building fertilizer plants abroad, and passed that confidence and curiosity on to his children.
When they separated in 2002, Bill retired and headed back to the Swan Valley in Montana, where he settled into a quiet and comfortable retirement. He loved reading newspapers cover to cover, visiting Glacier National Park, clam chowder on Fridays at the Pocketstone Cafe in Bigfork, and especially sitting on his patio in the summer watching a bonfire surrounded by family.
Anyone that spent time with Bill would agree that he could share a good story. Listening to his tales was always a treat: About his college days, water skiing while living in Oklahoma, his travels overseas while building his business, the numerous fishing trips he and his friends did in local lakes and streams and off the coasts of British Columbia or Belize... The copious amounts of fish caught and oysters eaten, the stories got better the fish bigger every year.
He died after a short and sudden decline with family around him. He was a strong, stubborn fighter that to the end talked as though he would live forever. He was a gifted storyteller with a smattering of southern customs from his relatives down that way.
He is survived by many loving children. His son, Travis F. Smith is of Calgary, Alberta; his daughter Stacia Smith and her husband Justin Lang are of Huson, MT; his daughter Nicole Smith is of Columbia Falls, MT; and his daughter Virginia Smith, her partner Chris Albery and granddaughter Charlotte (Charli) are of Cochrane, Alberta.
He was always close to his cousins Craig Ihme of Coutts, Alberta; and Gina and Thomas Brennwald of Männedorf, Switzerland. A surprising late addition to the family, thanks to 23-and-Me, is his daughter Jodi Trudeau of Portland, OR.
In accordance with his wishes, this summer a scattering of Bill's ashes will take place which will involve fireworks. Please contact Travis Smith 604-408-5722 for timing and details. Cards may be sent to Stacia Smith at 16658 Leif Lane, Huson MT 59846.
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