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Obituary - Willard Robert "Bill" Kickbusch


Last updated 1/6/2021 at 11:44am

Willard Kickbusch

Willard Robert "Bill" Kickbusch of Havre, 94, took his last trail ride Sunday, January 3rd, 2021, across the Great Divide. He passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family that he dearly loved.

Bill was delivered by midwife June 27th, 1926, in Hingham, Montana, to August and Mildred (Wallum) Kickbusch. The family later relocated to the Bear Paws where he attended Eagle Rock School with his younger brother and five sisters. In second grade, as the eldest son, Bill was responsible for safely transporting his siblings to school in a wagon driven by a team of draft horses. Thus began his lifelong love of horses, cowboys, and agriculture.

During World War II, Bill proudly served his country in the Army, where he was deployed to Puerto Rico and worked as a Morse Code operator. Upon his honorable discharge and return home to Havre, Bill married his soulmate, Kathryn Carey, on April 8th, 1947, in Chinook, Montana. Three daughters were born to this union and two grandchildren would later follow, all of whom were a source of immense pride and love for Bill.

Bill was a remarkably driven individual. His career as a civil engineer at the 778th Radar Squadron military base located north of Havre lasted for 30 years. Following the closure of the base, Bill owned and operated Raindrop Sprinkling and Landscaping, which serviced much of Havre and the surrounding areas until his retirement at 85 years of age. He was an active leader in 4-H for many years as his daughters were growing up. He was a lifelong member of the St. Paul Lutheran Church congregation in Havre. A talented musician, he served as lead guitarist and singer in two bands that traveled throughout Montana and Canada and was regularly featured on the local radio station in the late 1940s. It was a tough gig to work by day and play dances at night!

Bill was a true old-time cowboy, born in the saddle and grown in the country. He always said that his participation in the Great Montana Centennial Wagon Train and Cattle Drive of 1989 was one of the highlights of his life, and he always seemed at home holding the reins atop his covered wagon in full duster, chaps, and cowboy hat regalia. He was a man of strong constitution, vibrant with life, and brimming with equal parts wonder and wisdom. His devil-be-dared escapades earned him the nickname "Wild Willy," but he was also a devoted husband, father, and family-man. He always had an abundant sense of humor and a joke close-at-hand, his good nature infectious to all those around him. Quick to smile and slow to anger, he was a champion for the underdog, a stranger to none, and a caretaker to animals in need. To know Bill was to know a teacher, counselor, advocate, confidante, and, above all, friend, because his integrity and loyalty were unquestionable and boundless. Horse whisperer, hero, legend ... Bill now lives on in the hearts of his family - forever treasured and never forgotten, all so incredibly fortunate to have known the man that he was.

In the last 15 years of his life, Bill had a companion, Evelyn Krause, and they enjoyed traveling extensively around the United States.

Bill is welcomed into Heaven by his wife of 60 years, "Kay," his mother, father, and siblings, Roy, Helen, Eleanor, Estelle, Wilma, and Jean.

He is survived by his daughters, "Kitten" McLain, Colleen (Kenneth) West, Shannon (Dennis) Heggem and only grandchildren, Shawn and Briana McLain.

Services and arrangements have been entrusted to Holland and Bonine Funeral Home. A celebration of life is planned for the end of summer 2021, with details forthcoming in the wake of COVID.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Angel Care LLC, at 124 5th Avenue in Havre, MT, 59501, who showed exemplary compassion and care to Bill when it was needed most.


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