LAUREL — Bill Thorndal, 74, of Laurel, died on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, after an extended hospitalization. Bill was born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, to Lucille and Herbert Thorndal. His mother contracted polio when he was a small boy and she spent the next 50 years confined to a wheelchair. This contributed to Bill’s deep empathy for those facing extra challenges.
When Bill was a young teenager, his father started a bank in Columbus, N.D. It was here in rural northwest North Dakota that Bill excelled in basketball as Dale Brown’s first “big center.” (Shaquille O’Neal was his last.)
Following high school, Bill married Patricia Whaley and had four children. In addition to being a full-time student studying finance at UND, Bill worked full-time at a bank to support his burgeoning family.
For the next 40 years, Bill worked in all aspects of banking with the last 20 years as a bank president — first at Central Bank in Great Falls and then at 1st Security Bank and 1st Citizens Bank in Laurel. He loved being a community banker with the opportunity it gave to learn about new businesses and to help these small businesses develop and grow sustainably.
In 1982, Bill married Margit Thorndal. Their many happy years together were filled with stimulating conversations, traveling to discover exciting new restaurants and wines, throwing elaborate dinner parties, and relaxing at their cabin on the Boulder River. Bill was an avid reader, a true lifelong learner and aficionado of the arts, making him an interesting and nimble conversationalist. He was never happier than when planning a dinner party or another big trip.
In 1999, Bill retired from banking to devote his time to the business he and Margit developed — Madagascar Imports. They loved working together and the business gave them many opportunities to travel the world and meet fascinating people.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Lucille and Herbert Thorndal, and by his brother Herbert, Jr. He is survived by his wife, Margit; and his children, Catharine (Jane); Mark (Helen) and their children Iver, Britta and Finn; Paul (Paul), all living in the San Francisco area; Julie (Leif) Linderman and their children Jace and Sloan in Billings. He is also survived by brother John (Loretta) of Las Vegas; sister Mary (Veronica) of Los Angeles; numerous nieces and nephews; and beloved dog, Jax.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 4, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1108 N. 24th St. W., in Billings.
Suggested memorials are to the Community Lecture Series at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, the Yellowstone Art Museum or the Billings Symphony.