Walter F. Waite, 94, a Marine Corps veteran and community leader, died on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at Pondera Medical Center.
Graveside services with military honors will be held at Utica Cemetery in spring.
Survivors include his wife, Marilyn Waite of Conrad; daughter, Christine Sims of Missoula; son, Lance Waite of Spokane; stepson, William “Billy” Herlson of Brady; brothers, Donald Waite of Lewistown and Robert Waite of Moore; sisters, Heather Fellows of Choteau and Gloria Miller of Lewistown; many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by daughter, Diane White; and brothers, Darcy Waite and Rene Waite.
Walter was born April 16, 1926 in Stanford, MT to Charles and Eileen Waite. When he was just an infant, his parents moved to Utica, MT, where he attended grade school. After graduating from Hobson High School, he went to work in the Portland shipyards. At age 18, he joined the US Marine Corps, taking his advanced training at Jacques Farm, CA, training as a volunteer flame-thrower man both on foot and in a Sherman flamethrower tank.
He first served as a volunteer in a Marine Raider Bn in the South Pacific. Later his Raider Bn 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 WWII he was pulled out of the 4th Division and sent back to Guam as an 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, he 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 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 he married Marketta Winn. They later 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 Montanan 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’s Extension Agent Association’s designated representative.
He was very active with the Montana VFW Americanism programs, serving two terms as state VFW Americanism chairman with wife, Marilyn, as co-chairman. In 1983 he received a US appointment as an aide-de-camp 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 US White House Conference on Children and Youth.
An active civic and community leader, he served many years as City of Conrad councilman. He served on the Pondera County Cemetery Board, Conrad Library Board, City-County Planning Council. He was member of the north central AARP Chapter 247 and served as its president in 1989.
Upon his retirement in 1987, he spent 5 ½ 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 it’s 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, hiking in the great outdoors, and spending time family and friends.
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