Walter Paul Bahr

August 30, 1928 ~ February 8, 2021 (age 92)

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 Walter P. Bahr, 92 Walter Bahr died peacefully at home on Monday, February 8, 2021 surrounded by family members. His health declined in recent months due to dementia. Walt is survived by his wife of 65 years, V. Joann Bahr, siblings: Steve (June) Bahr and Roberta (Russell) Brooks, children: Dick (Deb) Bahr and Patty (Stu) Breslin, grandchildren: Bo (Amanda) Bahr, Hayley (Garrett) Bahr, Chris (Krystal) Breslin, Daniel and Emily Breslin, great-grandchildren: Finnigan, Juniper, Gidian, Clayton and Grayson, nephew: Glenn Storie and many other nieces and nephews spread around the country. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Caroline Bahr, two sisters: Eleanor Bahr and Millie Storie and brother-in-law: Kenny Storie. Walt was born in Kalispell, MT in 1928 and grew up in Bigfork. He spent a lot of time during his youth fishing with his brother Steve, picking orchard fruit with his dad in MT and WA, swimming and diving in Flathead Lake. Some of his high school summers were spent on fire lookouts in the Swan Valley. He lived his entire life in the Flathead Valley except for venturing to Bozeman to attend and graduate from MSU in 1950, and then a 2-year stint in the US Army with the 747th Amphibious Tank Battalion based in California. After leaving the Army, Walt returned to Bozeman briefly where he met Joann at the Student Union Building Coffee Shop. They both got jobs in Kalispell and were married in Conrad, MT in 1955. Walt built Joann a house on 5th Ave WN, where they lived for 8 years. One day he came home and told her that he had sold their house; so they found a lot in Northridge and built the house where he lived out his life. Walt worked his entire career in Kalispell. Initially as a real estate agent then taking up banking at Conrad National Bank which is now First Interstate Bank. He worked his way up from teller/cashier to Senior Vice President of Operations. He worked within the bank and across the state to increase computer data processing of bank operations. One proud moment for Walt came out of a tragedy for the Conrad National Bank. When the bank caught fire in the fall of 1959, Walt worked arduously with others to ensure the bank was up and running at a different location the day after the fire. When not working Walt could always be found outside, whether around the house gardening and swimming, or adventuring in the great outdoors. To ensure he could swim all he wanted, he built a swimming pool in his backyard. It was deep enough for him to enjoy his love of springboard diving. He loved to hunt, fish and boat, especially enjoying these outings with his brother-in-law, Kenny Storie. He built two boats, one for sailing and one for family recreation and fishing. Fishing went on year-round just shifting from sitting in boats to being on the ice. Walt held a Montana state fishing record in 1973 for the largest Lake Trout which he caught in Flathead Lake. Hunting seasons many years started with shooting geese over decoys on opening day. This was followed a few weeks later with a trip to central Montana chasing antelope and deer across the prairies. A late season elk hunt in southern Montana wrapped up the season. Walt shared his love for hunting with family and friends. For several years he taught youth hunter safety classes and was recognized for sharing his knowledge and experiences with over 100 youth. After retiring from banking in 1990, Walt and Joann traveled frequently: visiting family all over the country and traveling to states they hadn’t yet seen, including Alaska and Hawaii. When back in the valley, Walt and Joann could often be found dancing at the Bigfork Inn or the Eagles, especially enjoying jazz music, as well as volunteering at the annual Jazz Festival. For more than 30 years, Walt was a member of the Over the Hill Gang, a notorious group of primarily local retirees who hiked together in the warm months and skied when the snow fell. One year, they decided to have a birthday celebration on top of a peak in Glacier National Park. One member packed in a cake, and Walt decided to bring ice cream bars (packed in dry ice) to go with the cake, earning him the nickname Ice Cream Sherpa. This became an annual tradition with the group. Walt compiled a list of the peaks in Glacier that he had climbed, and it numbered over 60, many he climbed more than once. He shared these hiking experiences with dear friends and family. Walt loved to downhill ski. He was a season pass holder at Big Mountain, now Whitefish Mtn. Resort, until 2012 (when he was 84). The only issue with Walt was that he didn’t know how to slow down, with his kids, grandkids and friends struggling to keep up with him when he was skiing a newly groomed slope. He admitted that he thought he might have been a downhill racer in a previous life. After taking a few hard falls, injuring his ribs and shoulder, his friends suggested that he could just ski a little slower and more cautiously. Walt didn’t know how—so he just hung up his skis and didn’t ski again. Throughout his life, Walt was very civic-minded and involved with many organizations that supported the Flathead community. Early in his career, he was active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) where he rose to President of the Montana State Jaycees and served as a National Director. He served as President of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, President of the Board of Directors of Flathead Health Center (now Kalispell Regional Health) and Chairman of the Glacier Natural History Association (now the Glacier National Park Conservancy). He served on other boards of directors, including the Flathead Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Flathead Land Trust. He also enjoyed his involvement in the Friends of Lawrence Park, and volunteering with SCORE. For most of their married life, Walt and Joann enjoyed the fellowship at Epworth Methodist Church. The family would like to thank some special people who supported Walt and Joann during the last few years: Garrett Colibri, Loyal Care, Kalispell Fire Department and Frontier Hospice. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home is handling cremation arrangements. Memorial contributions can be directed to: Flathead Land Trust, PO Box 1913, Kalispell, MT 59903, or the Glacier National Park Conservancy, PO Box 2749, Columbia Falls, MT 59912, which support two causes dear to Walt. In lieu of a memorial service, Walt’s family asks you to take a hike or a walk to a place you really enjoy, eat an ice cream bar and remember the good times you shared with Walt.

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