Bob Waller, 86, of Billings, passed away on June 30, 2015, at the MorningStar Senior Living facility in Billings.
Bob was born on Sept. 14, 1928, in Minot, N.D. In his early years, Bob was raised primarily by his mother, Armida Waller. As an early woman entrepreneur, Armida opened the Minot Business College, a local educational institution that she successfully owned and operated for over 30 years. As a young man, Bob achieved the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America. Over his lifetime, Bob credited the Boys Scouts for being a very positive influence in his formative years. In 1946, Bob graduated from Minot High School. During his high school years, Bob participated on many of the school’s sports teams. His best sport was baseball and, in his final year of high school, Bob was named to the North Dakota All State Baseball team.
Following high school, Bob assisted his mother in running the Minot Business College for two years before enrolling at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. Bob’s college career was put on hold when he joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Just before shipping off for active duty, Bob married Gail Scott Wardrope of Leeds, N.D., who was his loving wife and partner for 65 years until her passing in 2014. After his honorable discharge from the Army, Bob completed his college degree and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1953.
After college, Bob began his career in business as a Senior Sales Rep for the Burroughs Corporation. In 1960, Bob accepted a position as an Assistant Vice President with the State Bank of LaCrosse, Wis. This began a career in banking that lasted until his retirement in 1997. In 1967, Bob moved his family to Billings to join the Midland National Bank of Billings. Bob would go on to become President and CEO of the Midland Bank (later First Bank Billings) from 1971 to 1983 and then later served as President and CEO of the First Interstate Bank of Commerce, Billings, from 1983 to 1994. After his retirement as CEO, Bob continued on as Chairman of the Bank’s advisory Board of Directors until 1997. During his banking career, Bob held leadership positions in the Montana Bankers association and was also appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Board of Directors.
Throughout his life, Bob was very active in the community, generously giving his time and support to a wide range of local civic, charitable, religious and educational organizations, including The United Way, Rocky Mountain College, The Alberta Bair Theater and the YMCA. His participation in and support of these many worthy causes was a direct result of his love for his community and his country. In recognition of his years of community service, Bob received: In 1990, the P. N. Fortin Humanitarian Award; in 1991, the Peter Yegen Community Service Award; and, in 1994, Honorary Doctor of Laws from Rocky Mountain College. Over the course of his life, Bob was also recognized several times for his many contributions to the Boy Scouts of America.
Throughout his life, Bob was an active sportsman. While living in Wisconsin, before moving to Billings, Bob was an active curler, where, in addition to many nights of competition at the local club, he skipped his local rink to a regional championship, battling very tough competition in the heart of curling country. Bob also loved to play golf, and among his prouder achievements was that he managed to win both the Yellowstone Roundup and the Hiland Fling, which were the annual member-guest competitions hosted by the local courses. Bob was introduced to pheasant hunting as a young man in North Dakota, and, throughout his life, he was an avid upland bird hunter, hunting until well into his 70s. He was an excellent wing shot and greatly enjoyed the early mornings in the open spaces and the camaraderie of his hunting companions.
In addition to their community involvement, Bob and his wife Gail also took perhaps the greatest pleasure in the many friendships they formed over the years and greatly enjoyed playing the role of host and hostess, frequently having their friends over to their home for dinners and parties. Bob and Gail also enjoyed traveling with their family and friends, visiting many of the great sites and cities in the U.S. and Europe.
In retirement, Bob and Gail continued an active lifestyle, taking great pride and interest in the activities and accomplishments of their beloved grandchildren.
Bob is survived by sons, Bob (Lori) Waller of Billings, Tom (Andrea) Waller of Green Bay, Wis., and Joel Waller of Seattle; grandchildren, Michael Waller, Katie Waller and Alex Waller; as well as a host of friends.
Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 7, at First United Methodist Church. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall and a private burial will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens Columbarium.
Memorials in Bob’s name may be sent to the Boys and Girls Club of Billings, the Alberta Bair Theater or the charity of one’s choice.