Wilmer John Britzman
May 31, 1922 – October 4, 2018, 96 years old.
Uncle Bill was born in Glasgow May 31st, 1922 the youngest of 9 children born to pioneer homesteaders, William and Paulina (Neumann) Britzman. Bill attended Glasgow schools and graduated from Glasgow High School.
He spent most of his life on the family homestead on the Westfork of Porcupine Creek midway between Glasgow and Opheim – taking care of both his dad and mom until their deaths. He helped his Dad and Mom run an overnight stopping place for the old freighters hauling supplies north and wheat and coal south. The old barn had room for 100 horses they could put up in there – along with room for the teamsters to roll out their bedrolls in the barn or house during cold weather.
After WWII he was in partnership with his brothers Lee and Carl in Britzman Bros farming operation which included a dairy for several years. In 2010 at the age of 88, after an illness, he was forced to move to Nemont Manor and then Valley View home.
His greatest enjoyment in life was his horses, cattle, Border collie dogs and barn cats. His patience gave him a knack with training animals- especially horses and Border collies. Bill kept riding horses well up to his eighties even though he was losing much of his balance. After having a young horse go over backwards and he was found unconscious in the yard he still would not blame the horse- said it was just his loss of balance that pulled the horse over on him. We finally convinced him not to go riding when no one was there.
His second favorite activity- was visiting. Neighbors that stopped in always knew there was a pot of coffee on the table and he was ready to hear what was happening in the community. Fridays were his favorite day- as he would come to Glasgow to deliver cream from the 2-4 cows he milked for years and eggs to his customers around Glasgow. That day usually started with a stop at Doc Browns Vet Clinic where he would visit with whoever there. After his day of visiting and deliveries he’d load up a pickup load of hay – stop and get groceries (where he might visit for a few more hours) and head back north to the homestead. Uncle Bill died Oct 4, 2018 at the age of 96.
Wilmer was preceded in death by 6 sisters Wilma Britzman, Alice Bates, Clara Dix, Marie Pulliam, Edna Davidson, and Mildred Chidley; brothers Lee and Carl Britzman and a special niece Bonnie Britzman Billing.
Uncle Bill is survived by numerous nieces and nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews. Local nephews are Dick Britzman, Lee Dix, Carl Dix and Jack Dix. After the passing of his brother Carl- Uncle Bill became like Grandpa to Stacy, John, Janeen and Carla Britzman and great-grandpa to their kids.
Uncle Bill was baptized in the Methodist Church but usually was only seen in church at funerals or weddings. But in talking with him I know he was a very religious and spiritual person. I found an article one time that fit Uncle Bill and so many old-timers of the area. It was written by Stan Lynde the Montana artist originator of the Rick O’Shay cartoons. He was talking about how his most popular cartoon ever was about Hipshot riding thru town and past all the Christmas Eve activities to a lonely hill side- where he takes off his hat – looks skyward and says “Happy Birthday Boss”.
Lynde wrote that he thought the popularity of that cartoon lies in the nature of our relationship with the natural world and with the power that created the universe in which we dwell. As individuals we may have been disappointed or turned off by organized religion. We may have followed dark trails that led to dead ends and pain. We may even come to deny the existence of a creator at all, (if we can do that Hipshot says, we just aren’t paying attention.)
Growing up among cowboys, sheepmen, and ranch people in eastern Montana, I noticed a common trait. Men who earn their livings in the natural world are often deeply spiritual men. They may not confess an established denomination, they may not have been inside a church or synagogue since childhood, but they nearly all seem to be aware of a creative power in the world, a power Hipshot refers to as “The Boss”.
How could it be otherwise? Men who live close to creation, whose lives and welfare are effected on a personal level each day by weather, who witness the cycle of the seasons, the miracle of birth, the progression of growth, decline, and death, how could they not be believers?
Uncle Bill was a believer- and I’m sure he’s having coffee and a visit with “The Boss” right now.
At Uncle Bill’s request there will be no funeral – the family will spread his ashes on the homestead he lived most his entire life on.