William James Engle died Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at The Springs in Whitefish at the age of 98.
Bill was born Aug. 30, 1921, in Sioux City, Iowa. He attended Trinity High there, where he played football. He adored big band music and swing dancing, which he did well. He won a football scholarship to the University of Dayton attending for one year, then joined the Army/Air Force in the early days of World War II.
Bill was in the Army’s first class to learn radar, and was a navigator during the war and flew 38 missions over Europe. Shot down and lost for 10 days, he did not talk much about the war. He returned to Sioux City afterward to marry Bette Jane Leget, and they moved to Michigan, where Bill worked as a metallurgical engineer in the auto industry, eventually running a small foundry for Motor Wheel Corporation. Bill and Bette had two daughters, Jerret and Christianne.
Bill and Bette purchased a log home in the Flathead Valley near Lake Blaine in 1986. He retired and spent his happiest years there. He was eager to have time and a place for horses again and he and Bette loved to travel, camp and square dance in the area. The family estimates Bill drove the Going-to-the-Sun Road about 100 times. He loved sharing that trip.
Bill enjoyed good health into his 90s. Struggling with dementia in his final years, he had enormously kind support from many caregivers and friends in the Flathead, who helped him stay in the home he loved as long as possible, cared for him in his last days, and to whom he and his family are ever grateful.
The family will schedule a memorial Mass at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Kalispell in Bill’s memory this spring.
Bill is survived by his two daughters, their husbands Cort Tramontin and David Banford, and by his brother, Paul Engle, of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.