(Aug. 28, 1939-June 28, 2011)
Former Powell resident Joseph Marion Wichman of Billings died Tuesday morning, June 28, 2011, in the comfort of his home surrounded by his loving family after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
He was born in Lewistown, Mont., on Aug. 28, 1939, to Robert “Joe” and Vesta (Howard) Wichman.
The oldest of 14 children, Joe was raised on the family farm, attending Wild Rose School and Moore High School where he was very active in sports and 4-H. Upon completion of high school, he continued his education at Montana State University in Bozeman earning a degree in Range Management. After college he began his career with the Bureau of Land Management.
While living in Miles City, Mont., he was introduced, through his sister, Peggy, to the love of his life, Rita Amestoy. They were married Dec. 1, 1962 in Sidney, Mont. Their marriage was blessed with eight children.
Throughout his 36-year career with the BLM, he and Rita lived in Miles City; Belle Fourché, S.D.; St. George, Utah; Worland; and Prineville, Ore. He retired in 1997 and they moved to Powell to be closer to family and friends. In 2005, they moved to Billings to live out his final years.
Joe was active in his church and family life. He coached many of his childrens’ baseball and basketball teams. He was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a long time member of the Society for Range Management. Joe was an avid outdoorsman and loved taking his children hunting and fishing. Some of his fondest memories were of spending time with his family in the outdoors. Sharing his knowledge of plants and animals with his grandchildren always brought him joy. Joe also loved trapping and the solitude of nature. Joe was skilled with his hands and loved to garden. He always had a “green thumb.” He was handy around the house and liked to fix things himself.
He is survived by his wife of almost 49 years, Rita; his children Joe and Tracey Wichman of Powell, Dan and Lynette Wichman of Billings, Brad Wichman of Worland, Patricia and Larry Paxton of Worland, Laurie and Ken Braun of Billings, Sarah DeVries of Roberts, Aaron and Alex Wichman of Billings, and Elizabeth Wichman of Missoula; and his grandchildren Rhea Paxton, Cody and Haley Wichman, Anessa, Aubrey, Ashlyn, and Anneva Braun, Whitney and Melissa Wichman, Ryan and Emma DeVries, and Silas Wichman.
He also leaves behind his mother, Vesta Wichman of Lewistown, his sisters Jacque Alles (Ron), Marilyn Merchen, Peg Straight, Nancy Taylor (Ted), Sally Turnquist (Ken), Vicki Damson (Chuck), Nina Rapkoch (Joe), and his brothers John (Sharon), Gary (Colleen), Keith (Rana), Herb (Nancy), David (Janet), and Terry along with his father-in-law, Paul Amestoy, brothers-in-law, Ron (Peg) Amestoy and Gene Amestoy, sister-in-law Linda (Jim) Simonsen, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by infant son, Loren Michael, his father, Joe, and his mother-in-law, Corrine Amestoy.
Services to celebrate Joe’s life will be held at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Billings. The rosary vigil will be on Friday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. with viewing before and funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 2, 2011.
The family requests memorials be made in Joe’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, 3010 11th Ave. N., Billings, MT 59101. Arrangements are in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.