Written from the heart by Bill’s wife Marilyn Barnes

The love of my life William “Bill” E. Barnes, Jr., was born Aug. 20, 1941. We met in 1981 in Reno, Nev., where his parents, Bill Sr. and Frances lived and we were married on June 26, 1982.

Billy (as I call him) was the best thing that ever happened to me and I thank God that I found someone as kind, loving and wonderful as him to share the ups and downs of my life with.

After 31 years of marriage, he went to be with God on Aug. 8 at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.

Billy is survived by me, his wife, Marilyn “Lyn” (Gange); our son Mark, his wife Christy; our grandson Will and also our granddaughter April and her husband Ben who live in South Carolina. Mark Barnes and his family are presently relocating to California. Mark is a Superintendent working with Barnard Construction out of Bozeman. Bill is also survived by his youngest brother, Edward, who works in Fiber Optics Maintenance for Quest Communications and his wife Roberta. They live in Elko, Nev.

Bill retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1979 after 20 years of service and two tours in Vietnam. He then worked for and retired from Wells Fargo in Reno. Over the years, we enjoyed visiting my family in Montana and he fell in love with its beauty and open spaces. In 1991, we decided to make our home in Great Falls. We started our own business which we sold 20 years later and retired with our dog, Duke, to the smaller, more peaceful community of Conrad. Here we bought an acre with a barn and put a new home on it. My husband was the hardest working man I ever met. In no time, he had sod, trees and flowers planted and growing around our home where there was once just dirt. He did all the maintenance on our vehicles.

My Billy was a do it yourself kind-a-guy, he didn’t much like asking for help. He could repair just about everything. He enjoyed planting and gardening, building small outside projects and working in the barn. Bill and I always enjoyed going camping together with Duke and having family get-togethers. Hunting was something he looked forward to all year, especially if our son and grandson were able to make it to Montana to go with him. His pride and joy was our son Mark and his family and they loved him dearly. They spent as many of their vacations as they could with him and these times were his favorite memories.

Bill was the sweetest, most giving, brave, smart, handsome and fun to be with human being in my world. He was a tall man and so strong physically and in moral character. Billy always had a strong will and always finished whatever he set out to do. I relied on him for everything and he never let me down. My Billy was and always will be the best, most wonderful part of my existence here on earth. His strong, loving presence will forever be imprinted on my heart and I will miss him and love him for the rest of my life.

A memorial service with Military Honors for Bill will be held on Sept. 14 at 3 p.m., at the Veterans Memorial section of the Hillside Cemetery. Father Hugo will officiate the service. A reception with family and friends will follow at the Conrad Moose Lodge.