Walter F. Waite

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Walter F. Waite
Walter F. Waite

Walter F. Waite, 94, a Marine Corps veteran and community leader, died on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 at Pondera Medical Center in Conrad, Mont.

Walter was born in Stanford, Montana, to Charles and Eileen Waite on April 16, 1926. When he was just an infant, his parents moved to Utica, Montana, where he attended grade school.

After graduating from Hobson High School, Walter went to work in Oregon at the Portland shipyards.

At age 18 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, taking his advanced training at Jacques Farm, California, training as a volunteer flame-thrower man both on foot and in a Sherman flamethrower tank.

Walter first served as a volunteer in a Marine Raider Battalion in the South Pacific. Later his Raider Battalion was absorbed in the 4th Marine Division. This division had earned four battle stars and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for courage and bravery.

After WW11, Walter was pulled out of the 4th Division and was sent back to Guam as a non-commissioned officer (N.C.O.) to help handle security for the Japanese War Crimes Trials. In 1946, he was one of some 70,000 Marines rushed into North China to block the Chinese Communist 4th Army’s eastward advance.

Upon his discharge in December of 1946, Walter went to work mining in Butte copper mines. By 1955 he had started his own construction business, erecting steel buildings out of Great Falls. Walter worked as a horseman for Anderson Lahr Land and Cattle Company for 27 years. He raised Angus cattle of his own and was proud to raise grand champion-winning bulls. Walter loved all creatures, great and small.

In 1947, Walter married Marketta Winn. They latter divorced in 1965. On May 2, 1970 he married Marilyn Maki. They were married for 50 years.

In 1950, Walter established a registered cattle herd, predominantly old-line breeding. For 44 years he intensified these bloodlines and built this strain into one of Montana’s premier small herds. He served 13 years as a director of the North Montana Angus Association and one year as president.

Walter was always an ardent booster of his beloved country among young people. He served in many capacities in Montana's 4-H Local Leaders Association, county, district and state. As president of Montana’s 4-H Local Leaders Association, he was one of the founders of the Montana 4-H Foundation. He served as one of the two 4-H leaders on the State 4-H steering committee, and as the State 4-H Leaders Organization’s representative to coordinate with the Montana Extension Agent Association’s designated representative.

Walter was very active with the Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Americanism programs, serving two terms as state VFW Americanism chairman with wife, Marilyn, as co-chairman. In 1983, he received a United Staes appointment as an aide-decamp to the National VFW Commander.

In 1970, Walter was appointed by Montana’s Governor Forrest H. Anderson to serve on Montana’s advisory committee to the United States White House Conference on Children and Youth.

An active civic and community leader, Walter served many years as City of Conrad councilman. He served on the Pondera County Cemetery Board, Conrad Library Board, and the City-County Planning Council. He was a member of the north central AARP Chapter 247 and served as its president in 1989.

Upon his retirement in 1987, Walter spent five-and-a-half years writing the popular book “Silver Dollar Tales,” an in-depth story about the legendary ‘old cowboy’ town of Utica.

In 2009, Walter came out with another pictorial book called “Backtracks” about the historical old Utica and its 130 years of existence -- a wonderful work composed of over 120 photographs, illustrations and sketches in vivid colors with historical story to accompany each illustration. Walter enjoyed reading, playing the guitar,

Walter enjoyed reading, playing the guitar, hiking in the great outdoors and spending time with family and friends.

Walter is preceded in death by his daughter Diane White and brothers Darcy Waite and Rene Waite. His survivors include his wife, Marilyn Waite of Conrad, Mont.; daughter Christine Sims of Missoula, Mont.; son Lance Waite of Spokane, Wash.; stepson William “Billy” Herlson of Brady, Mont.; brothers Donald Waite of Arizona and Robert Waite of Moore, Mont.; sisters Heather Fellows of Choteau, Mont., and Gloria Miller of Lewistown, Mont.; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Graveside services, with military honors, will be held at Utica Cemetery in the spring.