Clair “Bud” Wayne Hewitt, 89, a retired electrician, was born to heaven on the wings of the angels on Wednesday, March 5, 2008, at Northern Montana Hospital in Havre after a long illness.
Bud was a quiet, introspective man whose unassuming ways belied a life filled with adventure, good times and honest hard work. As he often told his family in his later years, “I’ve had a good life!” And that he did, always reaching for the most life had to offer. A memorial service with military honors is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at the American Lutheran Church in Harlem. Edwards Funeral Home in Chinook is in charge of the arrangements. Bud was born to Benjamin Franklin Hewitt and Emma Catherine Hewitt on February 4, 1919, in Trent, S.D. After a short time in Appleton, Minn., the Hewitt family moved to the family farm and home of his youth in Holland, Minn. At the age of 16 the adventurous Bud left home to follow his passion for horseracing. Being slight of build, Bud jockeyed race horses throughout the United States. As he matured and became too large to be a jockey, Bud became a race horse trainer for countless horses seeking racing fame in the years before World War II. One of Bud’s more memorable experiences occurred on the racing circuit at the Santa Anita raceway in California where his horse was stabled next to the famed “Seabiscuit.” Bud often commented on the intelligence and determination he sensed in that horse, which spoke volumes about a quiet and intuitive man who garnered much from animals and people alike with only his heart. In 1941 Bud received his draft notice and hastened off to serve his country in World War II, first with the 13th Coast Artillery and later when he volunteered to be part of the first Seabees units dispatched to the island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific to protect the Naval strategic fuel storage facility. It was there where he volunteered for a new assignment as a pilot without any prior flight training; he trained, studied and tested to fly with the Army Air Corps. He was accepted into an elite flying unit of the 157th Liaison which was deployed to Luzon, Philippines, and consisted of only 12 pilots known as the “Flying Sergeants.” These men flew dangerous reconnaissance missions into enemy territory and rescued wounded soldiers from the front lines in their single seat Stinson L-5 Sentinel aircraft. Bud served his country in that capacity in the South Pacific until the end of the war. He left a decorated war hero and still holds the record for the longest overwater flight in his L-5 at over 880 miles in 7 hours, 48 minutes from Luzon to Yonton airfield in Okinawa. In 1947 Bud met Ardis Evelyn Thomsen, who was a flight student of his in Lake Benton, Minn. Ardis became his wife that same year and was the love of his life. They flew together, lived together and worked together for almost 61 years. Following their marriage Bud attended Worthington Junior College in Minnesota where he obtained a degree. Next he attended Coyne electrical school in Chicago, where he obtained an electrical degree. Bud also earned his aircraft and engine license for aircraft mechanics as well. During this time, Bud made a living for himself and his family, which now also included two little daughters, Roberta and Merrilyn, by crop spraying and aviation mechanics. In 1955 Bud, Ardis and family pulled up stakes and came to live in Harlem where he crop sprayed, farmed briefly and finally took up his permanent trade as an electrician. It was in Harlem where their third daughter, Cynthia, was born and where they finally made their home. Bud retired from the electrical trade at the age of 80, however, he renewed his license that year by exam just to prove he could. It expired in 2003 as one of the oldest electrical licenses in Montana. Bud and Ardis were active members of the American Lutheran Church in Harlem and the Montana Electrical Contractors Association. Bud was also a lifelong member of the Harlem VFW Post #4744. Bud enjoyed living; he appreciated intelligence and attention to detail and honest hard work. His mind was never at rest, always pondering his next project and studying new technologies with intrigue. He loved to dance, to laugh and spend time with his family. Friends he made throughout his life were definitely friends for life. Bud was preceded in death by his parents, Ben and Emma Hewitt; an older brother, Neal Hewitt, and a special uncle, Beany Hewitt of Harlem. Bud is survived by his wife of nearly 61 years Ardis; his three daughters, Roberta (George) Brekke of Harlem, Merrilyn (Allen) Billmayer of Hogeland and Cindy (Max) Erickson of Havre; his seven grandchildren, Corey Brekke of Missoula, Adam (Shawna) Billmayer of Hogeland, Natalie (Darrel) Hannum of Havre, Aimee (P.J.) Timmons of Whitefish, Andrew Brekke of Havre, Ben Erickson and Michael Erickson of Havre. He also has 11 great grandchildren: Tristan, Ella, Sarah and Trent Billmayer, Marshall and Emily Hannum, and Kaytlin, Andrew, Macy, Emma and Matthew Timmons. Memorials are suggested to the American Lutheran Church in Harlem or to the charitable organization of one’s choice.