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Thursday, May 27, 2010

JJ: Les' Helpers I

The death of Bill Wise the other day brought back some memories. For those didn't see the obit, here it is:

William John Bill Wise, 77, passed away on Sunday night, May 23, 2010. Bill was born Feb. 10, 1933, to William McKinley and Lauretta Alice (Biggs) Wise, in, much to his chagrin, Los Angeles, where his parents had gone for a week s visit. Bill grew up Casper, Wyo., the Mission area and Kalispell. He enlisted in the Army and served with the 11th Airborne in Korea. In 1959 he married Dona Fae Eklund, and they had two children, Carrie and Mark. Following their divorce, he met Shirley Ann (Watson) Busselle on Mother s Day 1971. They married that fall and he gained daughters Dawn, Gloria and Cheryl. Dad delivered freight throughout the valley for Helphrey Motor Freight, Ringsby United, and later Wallace-Colville. After retiring from trucking he worked as a heavy equipment mechanic in the mining and highway construction industries throughout Montana, Washington and Nevada. When that played out, he turned his extensive creative talents to fabricating and was a partner in a small machine shop. For fun, he built several Volkswagon-powered trikes, and could be seen riding them around town. Throughout his life, Dad spent many an hour working with Les Bauska at the Gun Shop: There is nothing more beautiful that a finely turned barrel. Shooting was a passion and he was instrumental in founding the Flathead Muzzle Loaders, and was active in the Archery Club and Northwest Montana Arms Collectors. He is survived by Shirley, his wife of 39 years; daughter, Carrie, of Kalispell; son, Mark, of Houston; daughter, Dawn Gienger, and husband, Kevin, of Kiensal, N.D.; daughters, Gloria Brown and Cheryl Busselle, of Kalispell; nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A man of few, but all the more wise words, Dad had a deep, gruff voice, and a heart as soft as a marshmallow; he appreciated a good joke, a good steak, his family and friends, the warmth and companionship of Sykes, his flower beds (particularly tulips), and the Irish Rovers. His passing leaves a hole in the fabric of many lives. He will truly be missed. No services are planned. Please join us for celebration of Bill s life from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 28, at Sykes Restaurant. Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home is caring for Bill s family.

Les always commented on Bill's strength, which was well above average. He said if he needed something loosened Bill was the guy to call, but for tightening things he'd rather use someone else. He said Bill could twist a bolt in two quicker than most machines could, and hinted that "Over-torque" should have been his middle name.

I remember Bill's trikes. They were as much a work of art as they were transportation.

Les had a biker/buckskinner named Doug working for him in the shop, and when Bill stopped by to show off his latest toy Doug asked to try it. Since Bill knew Doug was good on motorcycles he told him to go ahead. Doug fired it up, slid it into gear, popped the clutch, and proceeded to smash the left rear fender into a parked truck.

He forgot trikes were a lot wider than bikes.

Bill was not happy . . .

Doug was quite a craftsman himself. He had a Harley he'd basically built from scratch, combining what he thought were the best features from a number of different models and years, building custom fenders and gas tank, sissybars, and the whole nine yards.

He spent a while showing it to me and detailing all he had done (and it was a gorgeous machine) but when he asked me what I thought of it I told him it seemed like a lot of work and expense to put into something that wasn't as good as a Honda.

He walked away and never spoke to me again . . .