Obituary - William Robert Rathbun


Last updated 6/9/2023 at 11:59am

William Robert Rathbun

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of William Robert Rathbun.

Bill, 73, passed away October 30, 2022, at Peace Hospice in Great Falls, MT, surrounded by his family.

Bill was born July 23, 1949, in Havre, Montana to Robert and Doris (Stuart) Rathbun. He grew up in the farming community in Hingham, Montana, with his younger sister Beverly. He was a proud Hingham Ranger and graduated from high school in 1967.

Bill attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula. It was here that his love for the Montana Grizzlies, Harley Davidson and life truly began. He acquired the nickname Catfish, as he was most identified by his handlebar mustache. He joined the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, he drove his motorcycle up to the M, and got acquainted with the Missoula Police. He met and married his first wife Dawn Hymer and graduated in 1971 with his bachelor's degree in elementary education.

They moved to Havre, Montana, where Bill took his first teaching job at Devlin Elementary. The following spring, they welcomed their first daughter, Brandee. Soon after, in what he described as the easiest interview and decision he ever made, Bill was offered a teaching position in his hometown of Hingham. He was a junior high teacher in Hingham from 1973-1978. He loved watching and playing sports, so naturally, he became a coach as well. He coached junior high boys' basketball and was the head coach for the Hingham Ranger's first girls' high school basketball team in 1976.

Bill decided to hang up his whistle and converse and move on to family and farming. He and Dawn welcomed three more children throughout the years, William, Larra, and Zachary. Bill decided to work full-time on his family farm alongside his grandfather Pat, and father, Bob. Later he was joined by brother-in-law Ron Groseclose, and his youngest son, Zach. For many years Bill was able to farm alongside his father and son. He loved the farm life, living off the land, and he enjoyed the challenge each year brought on. It wasn't the easiest life, but nothing seemed to bother Bill. You could find him putting miles on his combine with a smile on his face, an iced tea, and not a care in the world. He loved welcoming strangers off Highway 2 to climb into his combine and tell them all about his family's farm, the way of life, and how proud he was.

In 2008, Bill married Mariah Danell, and they continued to make a home in Hingham. Anyone who knew them knew they loved to cook and eat. They would accept anyone at their table. Their laughter could be heard echoing through Hingham in the evening, as they enjoyed a fire and a glass of wine on their deck. They also shared a passion for canning and gardening. They were together up until his passing.

To those of you who were fortunate enough to have known Bill, you know he was unapologetic. Your family was his family. Your friends were his friends. Unless of course you disagreed politically. He was generous, fiercely loyal and his hard exterior melted away when he watched his grandchildren. His love for his family was undeniable. His boisterous laugh and story telling were bar none. No one laughed harder at his stories than him. (A trait he so generously passed on to his daughter Brandee.) One of his favorite things to do was pick from a patch of horseradish and make a mean batch of "Cat-radish." He loved giving it out and boasted it was the best. Almost as good as his other favorite, his homemade Roquefort.

He was the type of person who could carry a meaningful conversation with anyone, even if they were trying to sell him a timeshare. He loved his hometown of Hingham. He loved it so much he would get 86ed out of any bar and argue with anyone who said otherwise. (Another trait he so generously passed on to his son Zach.) He loved his Coeur d' Alene adventures with his daughter Larra, and talking equipment and coffee with son Will.

Bill was the happiest when he could throw on his leathers, load up his Harley and ride to watch the Griz. His happy place. Which was the last thing that he was able to do before God called him home.

~Up with Montana Bill~

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Doris Rathbun; and nephew Jason Groseclose.

Bill is survived by his wife Mariah; daughters, Brandee (Brian) Fladstol and Larra Rathbun; sons, Will (Munee) Rathbun and Zachary (Natalie) Rathbun; sister, Bev (Ron) Groseclose, stepbrother, Frank (Katie) Zabaleta; stepsister, Kitty Zabaleta; nephew Jeff (Hillary) Groseclose; grandchildren, Victoria (Ethan) Pletan, Alicia Fladstol, Declan Fladstol, Allison Gerhart, Joey Dickson, Weston Whitelaw, Indie and Nala Rathbun; great-grandchildren, Paxton, Reign and Tatum Pletan.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, July 8th, at 4 p.m., just where Bill had wanted, outside in the Hingham Park. As a tribute to Bill please wear your favorite Griz, Hingham Ranger, or Harley Davidson gear. In case of inclement weather, the Celebration of Life will take place at the gymnasium at the Hingham school.

Memorials or donations in Bill's honor can be made to the Hingham Park or any charitable organization of your choice.


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