He was born in a small homestead on the East Willwood. Of the five children born to Merle and Helen Barnhart, he was the youngest. Until he left home he contributed by participating in all the chores that were necessary on a farm. But there was time to develop a habit of hiking the surrounding hills.
As an adult he still loved gathering up his dogs and going out into the hills to walk.
Bill graduated from Powell High School in 1953. The succeeding year he enlisted in the Army. After basic training he was stationed in France as a medic. He was able to travel around Europe an accumulated leave time.
After returning to Powell, Bill joined the National Guard and enrolled in Northwest Community College. He met his future wife, Dixie, who was teaching at Eastside School. When he completed his classes at Northwest, the couple moved to Laramie where he continued his studies at the University of Wyoming.
His schooling was interrupted when the Powell National Guard was called up during the Berlin Crisis. Bill was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, and during that year was sent to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for Office Candidate School. He was appointed First Lieutenant in 1961.
During these years of study, Bill spent several summers as a seasonal ranger at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The second summer coincided with Lynda Bird Johnson’s trip to report on the nation’s National Parks and Monuments for National Geographic. Bill was assigned to be her tour guide for the park and adjacent town of Medora, North Dakota.
Bill finished up his studies at UW, earning both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in history. He worked in Cheyenne at the State Museum and at the Wyoming Recreation Commission. While at the latter he placed some 76 sites on the National Register of Historical Sites, including the old Governor’s Mansion, the Medicine Wheel and the Fort Fetterman Cemetery.
He was also the author of “The Northfork Trail” and of several articles for various magazines.
He is survived by his wife, a sister Rita (Darl) Walker of Clarkston Washington, and a brother-in-law, Ken (Faith) Whipple of Cheyenne.
As per his wishes there will be no services.