William Leslie Chittick, age 88, of Claremont, California, formerly of Belt, Montana, passed away peacefully from natural causes at Sunrise Assisted Living of Claremont on May 16, 2013. He was surrounded by his loving family.
William (Bill) was born on September 3, 1924 in Buffalo, Wyoming. He was the fourth of five children, and the second son of William Andrew and Elva (Dierdorff) Chittick. Shortly after Bill’s birth, William and Elva moved their family from Buffalo, Wyoming to Helena, Montana, which is where Bill started elementary school. After finishing the first grade, the Chittick family moved to Belt, Montana. After finishing at Belt Valley Grade School, Bill went on to Belt Valley High School. In Bill’s own words he was an “average student”. However, he developed into a champion runner in the half-mile race, breaking school and regional records. Some of which still remain to this day. He also lettered in football and basketball. Bill graduated high school in May of 1942. He started college in September 1942 at the University of Washington in Seattle.
After his first semester, he joined the Army to defend the country he so loved, from an unimaginable evil called communism. After infantry training, he left the United States for Europe on December 1, 1944. He served in Germany from December 25, 1944 to January 19, 1945, at which point he was transported to France. It was there, in a small war torn village, as he stood talking with a fellow soldier, a mortar exploded behind him killing his comrade and Bill was severely wounded in action on February 17, 1945. With a nearly severed left arm and multiple deep shrapnel wounds to his legs and back, he was sent back to the United States on the U.S. Army Hospital Ship, the “Acadia”. He arrived in Charleston, S.C. at Stark General Hospital in April 1945. After the initial surgeries and recovery he was transferred to the McCaw General Hospital at Ft. Lewis in Walla Walla Washington. His final rehab was in Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City, Utah until May 1946.
Although his life had been derailed by the events of the war, Bill was resilient, and refused to be deterred. Education was very important to him, so he resumed his studies and enrolled in Montana State College, in Bozeman in June 1946. It was there that his life changed forever, and he met the love of his life, Eva Marie Ingram. After a courtship, they were married on December 27, 1948. Their union was a love affair that would last 58 beautiful years, until Eva’s passing in 2006.
They married during the Christmas break from school, so Bill could continue his studies and eventually graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering in June 1950. After graduation Bill stayed in Bozeman and worked as a Territory Manager for the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. During this time they relocated from Bozeman to Missoula. It was during this time that they welcomed their first child, a son, Michael Allan on January 1, 1954. After almost five years, Bill & Eva welcomed their second child, a girl, Lori Kay.
Realizing that the store was not going to provide the financial security that he desired for his family, Bill accepted a position as an Industrial Engineer with Convair, a defense contractor, in San Diego, CA. The family picked up and left Montana for the new adventures that awaited them in California. Bill and his family spent ten blissful years in San Diego, where Bill was very active with his family and enjoyed camping and backpacking, and was a Boy Scout leader. Then, a work related transfer sent them for a short stay in Montreal, Canada before General Dynamics transferred him back to Claremont, California in 1972. This is where he remained for the remainder of his career and subsequently enjoying his retirement years traveling and enjoying family.
Bill’s trademark qualities were his quiet confidence, unwavering honesty, and his loyalty to his family and friends. He was reserved by nature, but enjoyed living and laughing with those that he loved. His happy greeting of “How Do You Do” will be missed by all who knew him. He was the “ROCK” that everyone clung to and he willingly and lovingly took care of everyone. Our worlds feel a little less secure without him.
Bill grew up in the Great Depression, became a WWII hero, a successful businessman, and a deeply devoted family man, who loved the country that he fought for so many years ago. He lived his life with thoughtful purpose and handled any challenges with dignity and courage.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents William & Elva, his sisters Margaret & Marion, his brothers James & Robert, and his beloved wife, Eva. He is survived by his son, Mike Chittick of Estacada, Oregon, his daughter, Lori and son-in-law Jody Case of Claremont, California, his grandsons Will of Estacada, Oregon, and Kyle of Claremont, California, and his great-granddaughter Grace of Estacada, Oregon.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at the Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home in Terry, MT. Interment will follow in the family lot of the Prairie County Cemetery with full military honors. Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the Prairie County Cemetery in Terry or to the charity of one’s choice. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting:www.stevensonandsons.com.