William Charles Fischer (AKA Bill, W.C., Bud, Pop, Himself, grumpy old bear) died in Kalispell on Dec. 10, 2018. The official cause of death was O.D.T.A.A. (one damn thing after another).
He was born in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, in 1935, to Eugene and Frances Fischer. He had an older sister, Helen, and a younger brother, Robert. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Idaho in 1959, he joined the U.S. Navy. From 1961-1964, he served as the officer-in charge of construction at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan. His time in Japan gave him an appreciation for Kabuki theater, Geisha girls, sushi, stereophonic music, and food grilled on a hibachi. Ever the consummate engineer, he learned how to use an abacus, in addition to his trusty slide rule.
After being honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1965, he came back to the U.S., and took a job with the U.S. Forest Service in Salmon, Idaho, working as a civil engineer.
He met Amaryllis (Marda) Warner in 1966, and they married the next year. As part of the deal, he became an instant father to her four children from her previous marriage: Wendy (16 years old), Pete (15 years old), Ern (14 years old), and Paul (4 years old). He requested and received a transfer to the Forest Service office in Council, Idaho, and the family moved there later that same year. In 1973, he transferred to the Forest Service office in Eureka, California. Bill relished every opportunity to get into the woods, and do actual field work. His ability to accurately measure any distance with just a glance, from a few yards to hundreds of yards, was uncanny. His freehand drawings of plots, buildings and roads were rendered with a sparsely precise reality, using his favorite mechanical pencil.
In 1979 Bill transferred once more, and for the last time, to the Forest Service office in Kalispell. Bill honestly believed that Montana was the last great place, and the family moved into what would become known as the “Two Bucket” farm in Ferndale. In addition to working full-time in the Forest Service office in Kalispell, he developed the Two Bucket into a productive farm, with a large garden, milk cows, chickens, pigs and geese. It was hard work, but he was a pragmatic man, and enjoyed seeing his labor and sweat turned into milk and hand-churned butter, and meat and eggs and vegetables for the table.
Over the previous years, Bill had experienced the loss of his father and mother, and then his sister and brother, and he had taken these losses as he always did, stoically and with a private and succinct grief. If there was ever a person on this Earth that accepted the inevitability of death, Bill was that person. Then, on July 12, 1987, Marda died. He was 52 years old, devastated, and suddenly the farm seemed like a big lonely place.
One evening a few years later, he went into Bigfork and had dinner at the Bigfork Inn. He ended up dancing with Jeanie Frazer, and after a proper courtship, they were married in June 1991. The ceremony took place on the Two Bucket farm, with games, and food, and fireworks, and a bunch of fun and good times for a large and extended group of family and friends. Although he had no biological children of his own, Bill loved kids, and would buy toys and design games that would make then laugh, and he would laugh, too, and he would be silly and goofy and funny with them. He and Jeanie lived on the farm for many years, and they were happy.
Bill retired from the Forest Service after 30 years of dedicated service, and bought an RV. He and Jeanie traveled the United States, working with Canine Companions to help initial training of companion dogs, and helping Habitat For Humanity build houses for people in need. Bill and Jeanie actually met Jimmie Carter and his wife during these travels. Even though he was getting older, he didn’t let it slow him down, and continued to use his engineering knowledge and expertise to help people where he could.
Because of their traveling and increasing age, Bill and Jeanie had to give up the care of the Two Bucket farm. They moved to Kalispell and, even up until the end of his life at 83 years old, he kept a small garden plot with tomatoes, strawberries and chives.
W. C. Fischer was honest, smart, hard-working, kind, fair, strong, giving and funny. He had integrity, and you could trust him at his word. He embraced the joys of his life, and endured the hardships in his life. He was truly and honestly a good man. He will be missed and remembered.
In observance with his wishes, a private gathering to inter his ashes at the Two Bucket farm will take place in early summer 2019.