John Walker Batts


John Walker Batts


A husband, father, grandfather, oilman, sportsman, athlete and friend to many, John Walker Batts passed away on Oct. 20, 2019, surrounded by his family.

John was born on Dec. 15, 1924, to John E. Batts and Agnes Amelia Batts in Marion, Illinois. During the Depression, the family lived with John’s maternal grandmother in Ewing, Illinois, until the family moved to Mount Vernon, Illinois, where he finished grade school and high school. A celebrated athlete, John earned varsity letters in football, basketball and track. In 1942, his basketball team was elected to the Mount Vernon High School Hall of Fame. John was proud to be co-captain of the team in 1943.

A personable, generous and outgoing man with an abundance of friends (many of them “Oilies”), John was known for his storytelling, sense of humor and practical jokes. John saw life through the lens of joy and opportunity, whether it was a way to make an oil deal, find a hunting partner or simply befriend someone. All people were equal in his eyes, and he unfailingly lent a hand when he was asked and often when he wasn’t.

John was beyond proud to be an independent oilman in Montana. Early on, John worked for Schlumberger in Oklahoma, where he fell in love with the oil business. Later, John established his own company in Billings. He believed a handshake was as binding as a contract.

Enjoying life was important to John. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, owning a cabin on the Big Horn River for many years. During the 1970’s, when business was taking him to Denver more often than not, he rented an apartment there. He and his wife Dorothea enjoyed their home away from home.

John was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Mary Lou Trinei and Margaret Jane Bridge. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Dorothea; his three children, Margo Aldrich (Charles W. Long), Barbara Kephart, and John Batts, Jr.; grandchildren Thomas Aldrich, Andrew Schmidt, Kara Schmidt, and Jacob Batts (Jessica); and special family friend Le Cleveland.

It is with deep gratitude the family wishes to thank the compassionate, extraordinary and genuinely loving care provided by every staff member of Highgate Senior Living; we appreciated the hugs, kind words and support more than words can express. Near the end of John’s life, Compassus Hospice provided the extra care and understanding he needed. We are grateful for their expert guidance and love.

The family will gather to celebrate John’s amazing life that he loved so much at a later date. At his request, no services are planned. If desired, donations can be made to Shriners Hospital for Children.

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7 thoughts on “John Walker Batts”

  1. Margo and family, so sorry for the loss of your wonderful dad, husband, grandfather. From the time we were little girls to adults, your dad was always kind, funny and remembered me! Our dads were pioneers in their own way in the oil business. At any age, it is so hard to lose our parents. Take care of your mama and enjoy the wonderful memories you have! Leslie Blair

  2. John used to come into my sandwich store in downtown Billings, and one day he asked if I wanted to go on a wild goose hunt. Of course I said yes, and he picked me up at 2:30 on a Saturday morning to travel to Custer, Montana. Wow, I think I slept the whole way down to turnoff and then was awake until we traveled a not so graded road. We then drove down a field road and came to a stop out in the middle of where ever, and John said lets get the decoys out. There must have been 10 or 12 sacks of decoys and we and flashlights put them out in the dark. John left in his truck to park a long way from the pit and came back by foot in about 30 minutes. We sat in the pit, and John told me how he enjoyed this because he watched geese come into this area!
    As it got lighter in the day, I watched the flight of geese come up the Yellowstone to the west and other geese come down the Bighorn from the south. What a site to see that many birds come into an area that John had scouted out many years ago. I marveled at the site of about 10,000 geese coming into the area that John had picked out! I think that day we both watched nature on display!

  3. I have not seen or spoken to the man since the early 1980s. I worked for the company next door to his little office. He was alwasy quick with a joke, had a welcoming smile and warm personality. This is why, over thirty years later, I remember him. God speed ye, John Batts.

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