Walter Eugene Currie, 69, passed away on June 16, 2013, due to complications from hemochromatosis. He was surrounded by his family in Great Falls.
A celebration of life service is planned for Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, at 2 p.m. in the old gym at Great Falls High School. A reception will follow at the Flamingo Lounge.
Walt was born Oct. 20, 1943, in Missoula to Jack and Alice (Mueller) Currie. Growing up in St. Ignatius he attended grade school and graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1961 While in high school, he met and fell in love with Trudy Stevens, and they married May 16, 1964, in St. Ignatius. During their 49-year marriage they were blessed with two children, Jeff and Tracy.
Walt graduated from the University of Montana with degrees in education and history. The Currie family moved to Hermiston, Ore., for Walt’s first teaching and coaching job in 1969. In 1977, Walt and family moved to Havre, where he taught history at Havre High and was an assistant coach for football and wrestling. In 1978, he became the head coach in both sports and was at the helm of the Blue Ponies until 1987. Walt and Trudy returned to Hermiston in 1987, where he was the head football coach and later the head wrestling coach. After four years, Walt and Trudy missed Montana and moved to Great Falls, where he taught and was the head wrestling coach and a freshman football coach at Great Falls High. When Montana State University-Northern decided to develop a new football program, he decided to tackle this challenge and became the head coach. This also gave him the opportunity to coach with his son, Jeff, which was something he had always wanted to do. In 2003, Walt retired from teaching and coaching. He and Trudy moved to Great Falls to enjoy retirement. Not long after he retired, he was back on the field calling plays for the Fort Benton Longhorns. During his entire coaching career, he received many accolades and awards, however, the greatest reward he received was the respect from his peers, friends, players and students. His positive attitude and infectious laughter were always present in the classroom and on the playing field.
Also during his life he worked summers for the Forest Service. He started his forest service career working for the Lolo Fire District. Always up for a challenge, he became a Missoula smokejumper in 1975. As a smokejumper, he fought fires throughout the West and loved every minute of it. He even survived a plane crash in Alaska. Walt transferred to the Grangeville Air Center (GAC) in 1987. Walt “Big Bull” Currie jumped out of GAC until 2004 where he made his 260th fire jump on the Jacob Fire in the Salmon River breaks at the age of 61. He retired from the forest service in 2004 but worked after retirement during the summers at GAC. He loved his smokejumper brethren and he made many lifelong friends.
Walt lived his life to the fullest and had no regrets. He loved every minute of it. His sense of humor, laughter and smile will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife Trudy; son, Jeff (Stacie) Currie of Havre; daughter, Tracy (Kevin) Webster of Sunnyside, Wash.; grandchildren, Ryan (Dorothy) Webster of Mesa, Ariz., Jon Currie of Havre, Taylor, Megan and Ivan Cline of Havre; great-grandson, Micah of Mesa, Ariz.; sisters, Margaret (Mike) Corcoran of Sun City West, Ariz. and Mary Alice (Bruce) Thomas of Polson; sister-in-law, Vicki Moran of Great Falls; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother; his brother, Bud Currie; and in-laws Clyde and Betty Stevens.
The family suggests that in lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Havre Public School Education Foundation, Great Falls High Booster Club or a charity of your choice.