Cover photo for William Allen Surber's Obituary
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1940 William 2021

William Allen Surber

October 19, 1940 — December 26, 2021

William Allen Surber, 81, of Missoula, Montana died peacefully on Sunday December 26, 2021. He was born on October 19,1940 in Squire, West Virginia, son of the late George Malcom Surber and Pansy Louise (Nipper) Surber.

Born the second of five children to a coal mining family, Allen’s childhood home was modest, and life in rural West Virginia was challenging. The family was close and spent time together hunting, fishing, and camping. As the years passed Allen and his siblings often reunited in West Virginia with their own children.

Allen graduated from Big Creek High School in War, West Virginia in 1958, and accepted a four-year apprenticeship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. He met his wife of 54 years Carolyn during this time, and they married in 1963. Allen worked and went to school part-time for many years, completing his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1968.

Allen and Carolyn made their home first in Portsmouth, Virginia and then moved to Waynesboro, Virginia where their children were born. They later moved to Hollis, New Hampshire, Westlake Village, California, and back to Charlottesville, Virginia before settling in Missoula, Montana in 2016.

Allen’s career began at General Electric in Waynesboro, Virginia; then he accepted senior leadership positions at Dataproducts in New Hampshire and later in California. He led development of new technologies in the computer printing industry and received several patents and awards. Allen was a gifted leader and compassionate manager. Throughout his career several lifelong friends became work colleagues, and many work colleagues became cherished friends.

Allen had a strong faith in God and was devoted to service in his church memberships, the most notable of which was First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Virginia where he served in the diaconate and on many leadership committees. He was dedicated to community service and volunteered regularly, particularly in support of his children’s activities – among them Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Band Boosters, and the Augusta County School Board.

Allen was an avid outdoorsman and spent time in nature as often as possible, hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. An outing with Allen revealed his extensive knowledge of native flora and fauna, and he took pride in cultivating his gardens at home. Allen was a skilled craftsman and one of his proudest achievements was construction of a vacation cabin on Lake Anna in Virginia which he completed with the help of his father, brothers, and numerous friends. Over the years family and friends frequently enjoyed good times relaxing at the lake together. Allen was able to travel extensively in the U.S. and internationally both for work and pleasure.

Throughout his life, Allen faced some extremely significant health issues, beginning with major craniofacial surgery at the age of 33. Although this permanently altered his appearance, it did not slow him down. Allen became a runner and completed many races including the New York Marathon in 1988. Toward the end of his life, he battled Parkinson’s Disease which he managed with endless support from family and friends near and far, for which he was grateful and blessed.

Allen was predeceased by his wife Carolyn of 54 years. He is survived by his children, Kathryn Surber Young of Guilford, Connecticut, and William Allen Surber II of Missoula, Montana; his daughter-in-law Mary Southwood Surber; and his grandsons Clayton Surber, Henry Young and Jackson Surber. He is also survived by sister Drema Reed; brother George Surber and his wife Sue; brother Richard Surber and his wife Debi; sister Pat Tenney and her husband David; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Burial will be private. Memorials may be made to: First Presbyterian Church of Missoula, MT ( or First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, VA (
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