William T. (Bill) Wambeke


(January 6, 2003)

Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. at St. Barbara's Catholic Church in Powell for long-time Deaver resident William T. (Bill) Wambeke, 82, who died Monday, Jan. 6 at North Big Horn Hospital in Lovell.

Father Pete Johnson will officiate at funeral services. A rosary will be said at St. Barbara's parish Thursday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. Burial will follow the Friday services in the Deaver Cemetery.

Mr. Wambeke was born Feb. 23, 1921, south of Deaver to Ivo and Alice Wambeke. He grew up on the farm and was instilled with an ethic of hard work from his experiences of digging, loading and unloading sugar beets by hand.

He received his schooling in Deaver, and in June of 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was a Seaman 1st Class gunner on merchant marine ships, sailing to the South Pacific, India and Russia.

While docked in San Francisco in 1945, he phoned his long-time sweetheart, Helen Eyre, and asked her to marry him. They were wed in Billings, Mont., on Sept. 14, 1945. The newlyweds made a series of moves from Boise, Idaho to California and finally back to the Big Horn Basin.

During the early years of marriage, Mr. Wambeke did carpentry work, helping to build Cody's hospital and many homes in the Powell area. Farming was his main love, however, as he farmed around the Deaver area for more than 40 years until his death. He took great satisfaction in being able to help his sons in their farming operations as well.

Mr. Wambeke took a keen interest in the lives of his six children and was a strong supporter of their involvement in FFA, 4-H, school and sports. He was especially proud of the fact that he was able to offer all his children a college education.

He loved his family dearly and leaves behind many happy memories of hunting and camping. He and Helen also loved to travel and took two trips to Belgium to visit relatives.

He was influential in the organization of the 4-H livestock sale in Lovell. He also served 25 years on the Deaver Irrigation District board and on the Deaver Cemetery Board.

He will be greatly missed by his family.

Survivors include his wife Helen of Deaver; three sons, Dan Wambeke and wife Suzan of Spokane, Wash., Melvyn Wambeke and wife Sally and Nick Wambeke and wife Cheryl, both of Deaver; three daughters, Kathy Harris of Indianapolis, Pauline of Billings and Linda Thompson and husband Gerry of Sheridan; four brothers, Marsell, Frank and Fred Wambeke of Deaver and Bob Wambeke of Powell; two sisters, Alice Cooley of Powell and Joanne Barnett of Gillette; 12 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In death, he was preceded by his parents; an older sister, Simona; and a younger brother, Eddie.

Memorials for those who wish can be made to the Deaver Veterans Memorial Fund in care of the Town of Deaver.

Viewing will be at Miratsky-Easton Funeral Home from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday.