Our father, William (Bill) C. McAllister passed peacefully in his home, on January 19th, 2018. Bill was born on November 21st, 1924 in Billings, Montana. Except for a few years in Iowa, he and his siblings, Barbara and Jim, grew up in Billings with their mother, where Bill eventually made his permanent home.
Bill attended McKinley Elementary, Lincoln School, and graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1942. Bill loved to tell stories about growing up in Billings during the Depression. He and his brother Jim would reminisce about playing in the Billings “Boy’s Band.” They were once evicted from a hotel after a “pillow fight” and had many other misadventures during travels with the band.
Bill graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1942 and briefly attended Wheaton College in Chicago, while living with his father. In 1944, he enlisted in the Army and applied for flight training in the Army Air Corp. Bill received his wings and rank of Second Lieutenant before being assigned as a flight commander (pilot) for deployment of B24’s and B25’s. As a pilot, he logged over 5,000 hours before the end of World War II, and, although he never served in combat, he had many harrowing stories to tell.
During Bill’s time in the military, he met Patricia Thatcher at a college mixer in Galesburg, Illinois. After Bill was discharged from the Army, they rekindled their romance and eventually married on August 24, 1946 in San Diego, California. This was a union that would last 71 years.
Bill completed his college education at San Diego State and, upon graduation, he and Pat moved back to Billings. In 1949, Standard Oil of New Jersey opened an experimental oil refinery in Billings, using the Coke fracturing process, and Bill applied for a job as an accounting clerk at $60 a week. Bill was always the guy who came in on weekends and took bundles of papers home to work on after dinner. Within a few years, Bill was made chief accountant.
During this time, Bill and Pat took out a building loan and built their house of 63 years on Lewis Ave. Bill was always proud of the home he built for his family. The home and large yard was the favorite neighborhood hangout.
In 1959, Bill was picked as one of the best and brightest and was lured to New York City to be trained for fast-track executive management. He took the assignment only on the stipulation that he could return to Billings after two years, if he so desired. He was made many lucrative offers not to return to Billings, but no matter how large the offering, he would not leave Montana. He was made administrative manager of the Billings facility, but was flown all over the world to work on special assignments where his specialty was oil refinery expansion.
In 1979, Bill’s job in Billings had been eliminated and he took a special assignment in Houston for 9 months in order to attain 30 full years with Exxon.
In the summer of 1979, he applied and was accepted for law school at the University of Montana. At age 54, he entered University of Montana law school in Missoula and received his law degree in 1982. Upon graduation, he returned to his beloved Billings and joined a law practice with his childhood friend Bob Ryan. After Bob retired, Bill continued to practice privately until he retired his license at age 81. During his career in law, Bill often rendered his services for free. Those he helped usually insisted on some type of payment. A mincemeat pie from an elderly client was his favorite. He specialized in secure financial planning for the elderly.
Bill was a true Montana outdoorsman and loved to hike, fish, and hunt. He spent much of his boyhood and adult years at a family cabin on the upper Stillwater, a cabin that has preserved to this day. He shared his love of the outdoors with his children in hiking, fishing and Beartooth backpacking trips. Bill was happiest when the family was all together at the cabin.
Bill loved to golf and spent many years golfing with Pat and various golf buddies at Lake Hills, Highlands, and the Par 3. As a golfer he was a true “gentleman,” never lost his temper or failed to count a stroke on his score.
Bill was an active member of the Billings Symphony Society. He played the string bass in the orchestra for many years and served as the Billings Symphony president for two years and became president of the Symphony Board of Directors. His love of classical music was not always appreciated by his children as we attended every symphony concert, but as adults, we now have a great appreciation.
Bill and Pat enjoyed traveling and family vacations included many trips to California, Michigan, trips around Montana and a long list of national parks. Bill and Pat visited every state and traveled to New Zealand, Cook Islands, Scandinavia, British Isles, France, Germany, Canada and Costa Rica. One of their favorite vacations was piloting a houseboat down the River Thames with good friends Don and Margaret Glynn.
Bill volunteered for many organizations, including SCORE, Tax Aid for the Elderly, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, and the Senior Sports and Arts Festival. Bill was extremely generous, donating time and financial support to a variety of eclectic organizations such as the Paralyzed Veteran’s Association, Honor Flight, the Nature Conservancy and the Billings Symphony.
Bill had a brilliant analytical mind that amazed his children by his memory and depth of knowledge. It was hard to argue with Bill because he was always able to back up his arguments with accurate and detailed facts. During his later years, after all his cronies had passed, he made many friends at the Gold Dust Casino, a place he and his golf buddies would go for an after-game beer. He enjoyed nothing more than discussing and debating politics with his friends. As a true Democrat with mostly conservative friends, he was a difficult one to best in an argument because of his knowledge, exacting logic and awareness of current events. He always took these arguments in the spirit of fun and loved to push the buttons of his most conservative friends.
Bill is survived by three children, Lee, Amy and Jane (Dudley); five grandchildren, Anna and Clayton Improta, Kelsey and Sam Angel, Giovanna McAllister; great-grandson Kayden McAllister; brothers Jim, Paul, Bob; sister Barbara LeTourneau; and many extended family members in Montana and throughout the country. Bill was preceded in death by wife Patricia and brother Bruce.
Bill was a true gentleman. He was respectful, kind, honest, and showed interest in everyone he met. He was a wonderful role model for his children and his examples of integrity and hard work are the backbone of our family.
As a family we want to thank the people who love and cared for Bill during his end of life. Bill’s wish was to pass in his own home and we are thankful for the caring members of Compassus (hospice) and his caregiver Lisa Warner who allowed that to happen.
A celebration of Bill’s life will be held this summer at the family cabin on the Stillwater.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the charity of your choice.