Carl William Lehman was born in a one-room cabin on the family farm near Bridger on Sept. 14, 1932, to Henry and Dorothea (Wegner) Lehman. He was named after both of his grandfathers. His dad thought that Carl was too grownup a name for a young boy, so he was called Bill instead. He grew up helping his parents on the farm. He attended a rural school and then graduated from Bridger High School in 1950. After working with his dad for two years, Carl decided to go to college to become a teacher. He attended Concordia College, Portland, Oregon, and then transferred to Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward, Nebraska.
While at college in Seward, Carl met his future wife in “Observation” class. He saw her, turned to his friend and said, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her someday!” That prediction became true when he married Hilda Martensen on May 26, 1956, in Tilden, Nebraska. Carl graduated from Concordia in 1956 and began his teaching career in Laurel, where he taught sixth grade and became principal at South School his second year at Laurel. The family moved to San Bernardino, California, where Carl taught one year. Carl couldn’t wait to get back to Montana a year later. He taught eighth grade in Chester for two years. In the meantime, Carl worked as a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone National Park for five summers.
Carl enjoyed his family. He was a wonderful son to his parents, caring for them during their lives. Carl and Hilda raised five beautiful children. He was a Little League coach for many years when his sons were involved in baseball. He also coached Little Guy football. Carl enjoyed a good game of golf. Carl also worked as a real estate salesman a few years (part-time). He seemed to always find good deals for himself on income properties.
The family moved to Billings in 1962, where Carl taught elementary school for 25 years. He worked at Jefferson, Washington, Meadowlark, Sandstone, Grand Avenue, Broadwater and Eagle Cliff elementary schools. He enjoyed coaching and helping students in volleyball, track and basketball. There were many years when he accompanied the sixth grade classes to outdoor experiences on the Boulder River.
Carl was an avid fisherman, but he especially loved to buy fishing supplies. He had many tackle boxes filled with fishing gear, and rods and reels. He loved boats. He had several boats for fishing and others for waterskiing. He never did learn to waterski, but loved to drive the boat for others. Whenever he wanted to get a new boat, he would sell the old one to his kids really (cheap).
In 1985 Carl and Hilda purchased a cabin on Swan Lake. Many wonderful summers were spent there. Even now, the families will all come to the cabin some time during the summer for a fun vacation time. Recreation was important to him. He owned several motor homes and camping trailers. It was always a caravan to go camping. Hilda would drive the motor home and Carl would come with the pickup or car pulling the boat. That way they always had a car to go into town, which was also fun. The families would converge on the Tongue Reservoir, Cooney Dam, or Hebgen Lake over the 4th of July holiday.
Carl was a Lutheran all his life. He was a member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.
Carl and Hilda enjoyed wintering in Arizona. They first went by motorhome, then had a two-bedroom trailer, and finally a “real” house in Mesa. He had a natural flair for designing a beautiful yard.
Carl was very proud of his children and grandchildren. It was a very special day when granddaughter Jill graduated from Law School.
Carl passed away on Dec. 18, 2018.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Dorothea Lehman; a sister, Dorothy Iwen; his brother, Theodore; his daughter, Cindy Peterson; and granddaughter Michelle Phillips. Those who mourn his passing are his wife of 62 years (Hilda); his son, William Lehman of Seattle; son Steven Lehman (Julie) of Billings; daughter Linda Lehman of Billings; daughter Cheri Milne (Alex) of Billings; grandsons Tim Lehman of Seattle; Tyler Peterson (Holly) of Billings; Carter Lehman of Billings; and A.J. Milne of Billings; Jill Laslovich (Jesse) of Helena; great-grandchildren Cooper, Summer, Jaxson, Carter, and Arya; son-in-law Jim Peterson of Kalispell; sister-in-law Virginia Lehman of Belen, New Mexico; beloved nieces and nephews, and special friends Steve and Susan Murphy.
Carl’s favorite saying was “There is a time to be born, a time to live, a time to die, and God’s grace lives forever.” His entire life he stressed that every child deserves to know Jesus. Carl, we love you and miss you, but we know that you are with your Lord now.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 27, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1108 N. 24th St. West.
Donations may be made to “The Village” afterschool program at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.