Richard D. Gunlikson passed away peacefully at Logan Health-Whitefish surrounded by his loving family on September 3, 2022.
Rich was born July 5, 1928, in Williston, ND, to Oscar and Madonna (Brannon) Gunlikson. He attended Zahl ND school through the third grade and then moved to Shelby, MT with his parents in 1937. He graduated from Shelby High School in 1946 and joined the Army Air Force shortly after the end of World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1948 and entered college at Montana State College in Bozeman and played basketball for the Junior Varsity Bobkittens. He later transferred to Montana State University (yes that was what the University of Montana was called in 1948! Much to the chagrin of my Grizzly siblings!) to play basketball for the varsity Grizzlies. He was a hell of a player! This was where he developed his lifelong love for the University of Montana Grizzlies and met the love of his long life, Leslie Ann Lind of Butte, MT. She and Rich were married in 1952 in Butte and thus began the rest of their amazing story.
Rich graduated in 1953 and ultimately settled in Cut Bank, MT in 1955 with his young wife and their first child, Linda. There he opened his own Public Accounting CPA firm where he successfully practiced for the following 30 years. While in Cut Bank he and Leslie Ann had 5 more children: Richard Jr., Reed, Rial, Angela, and Ryan. During that busy time, he also became President of the Chamber of Commerce and President of the Montana CPA Society, not to mention part owner of an oil and gas drilling company. He was an amazing father to his family and was actively involved in the raising of his children. He loved to plan trips and following the graduation of each of his children he and Leslie Ann would pack the kids in the 9-passenger station wagon and drive across the country to see all the sights. By the time Ryan had graduated, he had been to all 50 states in the country. If Dad could have figured it out we would have driven to Hawaii! The memories he created for his children will last a lifetime and are still the topics of many a conversation. Laughing and enjoyment of life were traits he passed down to all of us!
Rich and Leslie moved to Kalispell in 1984 where he started his second successful CPA firm with his son Reed, which is still as busy as ever and in active practice today. He loved going to the office! He failed retirement multiple times and was a fixture in the office every day, even into his late 80s. He was a social being who loved to be around people and who people loved to be around. In Kalispell, he was just as active in the community and was one of the organizing directors of BankWest and served on the board of directors for 12 years. He also started 3 successful small businesses in the Kalispell Center Mall, operating from 1986 to 1997: a cookie and sandwich store, a men’s clothing store, and a woman’s shoe store.
Rich and Leslie built a home on Flathead Lake in 1984 and this is where he and his family have established their lasting roots. Dad and Mom absolutely loved living on Flathead Lake in the summer, sitting on the deck surrounded by their family, and living in Kalispell in the winter, spending most of the time at the Alpenglow Inn on Big Mountain and skiing. Dad always said that he and Leslie were the only people he knew who went north for the winter! They loved to ski and they passed that along to their children as well. Dad took his last runs down the mountain at 86 years of age!
There are too many stories to tell, and too many adventures that Rich had, and too many people whose lives he touched to tell them all here. We, as a family, are forever grateful to have had such a wonderful father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather in our lives. He showed us how to live, how to treat people, and how to love each other. We will miss him dearly.
Rich was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Jim Gunlikson. He is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Leslie Ann, his children, Linda (Dave) Wing of Butte, Rich Jr. (Julie) of Littleton, CO, Reed (Mary Jo) of Kalispell, Rial (Kim) of Kalispell, Angela (Jason) St.Onge-Spring of Kalispell, and Ryan (Beth) of Whitefish. He also will be cherished and remembered dearly by his 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren (and counting!).
The family would like to thank Dr. Mitch Marzo of Logan Health-Whitefish, who graciously guided us through Dad’s last days as well as the amazing nurses and staff who treated us with unbelievable compassion and grace. We are forever grateful. Buffalo Hills Funeral Home is caring for Rich and his family. Memorial services to be held at a later date. In lieu of gifts or flowers, please consider donating to your favorite charity, Logan Health-Whitefish Foundation, or the Grizzly Athletic Foundation.