William Richard Meinhardt passed away peacefully on Feb. 12, 2015, shortly after suffering a massive stroke.
Bill, the youngest of six children, was born on Oct. 25, 1928, on the family homestead property near Bridger to proud German immigrants. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers and sisters. He is survived by his wife and dance partner, Columbia, to whom he was married to for over 60 years. His surviving family includes his daughter, Patricia, his son-in-law Kenneth Miller (Niwott, Colo.); daughter Gigi (Billings); two brothers-in-law, Nick Sassano (Billings), Father Rock (Leo) Sassano (Birkenfeld, Ore.); sister-in-law Mary Schwend (Billings); numerous kind friends and neighbors, and his grand-dog, Kirby.
Bill, a man of the soil, grew up farming southwest of Bridger and graduated from Bridger High School in 1947. He proudly began attending Billings Business College in 1962, after which he began his long career as a Montana land appraiser. He worked many years in the Transportation Division of the Montana State Highway Dept. After spending the final five years of his career at BIA, he retired in 1990.
Bill was known for his unparalleled and disciplined work ethic and his unyielding honesty. He loved being outdoors and was a true steward of the land. During his lifetime, he and his wife purchased two separate farms, one in Bridger and one near Fishtail. His best days were spent passionately improving the beauty of the Bridger place, which borders the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone. In 2009, he sold this property to Montana Fish and Game. Bill was especially proud of the fact that this special place will forever be preserved for the enjoyment of all. The Fishtail place remained a labor of love until the day he passed away.
It goes without saying that Bill was particularly well known by all who knew him for his willingness to take a few moments over a few cups of coffee to swap stories and tall tales with whomever would listen.
His family would like to thank the ER staff, those who work the night shift on sixth floor and Chaplain Tracey Tobel from St. Vincent Healthcare for their comfort, support and terrific care they provided to Bill and Columbia at this difficult time.
A memorial service honoring his long and productive life will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave., in Billings.