William Michael ‘Bill’ Leslie died of a heart attack on Sunday, April 19 at the place he loved, Red Lodge, with his wife, Claire by his side. Bill was born on May 2, 1935 in Denver, CO to Albert Jacob Leslie and Clara (Thompson). He was raised in Denver with his older brother, Albert ‘Bert’, Jr.
Bill graduated from East High school in 1953 and attended the University of Colorado where he played football for the Colorado Buffalo and met his future wife, Claire Ward. Transferring to the University of Denver, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Bill’s love of finance and management began at DU.
Bill and Claire married June 20, 1956 at Holy Name church in New Orleans, LA. They were married for 58 years. After college Bill worked for Ideal Cement Company which brought his young family to Billings in 1957. Bill purchased Hitz Construction Company in 1967 which became Quality Concrete. He then founded Billings Brick and Masonry, Cody Brick and Masonry, Rocky Mountain Concrete Products and Mineral Specialties. It was in creating and developing these companies that he spent his working years.
Bill enjoyed playing handball at the YMCA, bicycling with his friends, and spending time at the family cabin in Red Lodge surrounded by his dearest friends and family. Travel to all corners of the globe gave Bill and Claire the opportunity to visit all seven continents. After retirement, he took up golf with a passion, which both delighted and frustrated him equally. He was a member of Hilands Golf Club. The famous family game nights were never a place where Bill shined. He suffered through many games of charades, which gave his entire family hours of laughter. Bill’s passionate past time was in the stock market, a game he studied and dearly loved. His “Buy Low, Sell High” finance club was open only to his children and grandchildren who proclaimed him the omnipotent investor.
He is survived by Claire; his children Michael of New York City, Mitchell (Marcy) of Helena, and Julia (George Warmer) of Billings. Bill or Papa as he was loving known, always felt blessed by his children and grandchildren: Mick (Melanie), Dallas (Dawn), Bobby (Sarah), David, Fiona, Xela, Mary, Siobhan, Ann, Sarah, Jacob, Elizabeth and his great granddaughter, Willamina.
Preceding him in death were his parents and his brother, Bert.
A Vigil service will be held Sunday, April 26, at 4pm at Michelloti-Sawyers, 1001 Alderson Avenue. Funeral mass will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Monday at 10:00 am. A luncheon will be held at St. Thomas immediately following the mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Billings YMCA, the Billings Library Foundation, the Billings Food Bank or the organization of your choice.