Walter (Wally) Eagle, a life-long Montanan, was born in Long Beach, Calif. on Feb. 26, 1927, the youngest of 10 children born to Sam and Ida Eagle. He passed away peacefully at the age of 86 on April 29, 2013 in Bozeman.
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School years were spent in Bozeman until his graduation from Montana State College (now MSU). In 1951 he married Frankie Rowse of Ennis. He began a 31-year career at Bozeman Senior High where he taught mathematics and also coached the ski team for 10 years. Upon receiving a national science grant, he earned his master's degree at the University of Colorado.
His teaching profession allowed him to spend summers co-managing the family business, Eagle's Store, in West Yellowstone, founded in 1908. From carrying ice from the ice house and making ice cream for the soda fountain as a youngster, to raising a family within the business, the store remained a significant connection to his large family and a place where countless life-long friendships began.
Wally was a man with a quiet, deep-rooted faith based on a sense of wonder in nature and love of the outdoors. Early loves included scouting, ice skating, hiking, biking, camping and enjoying all aspects of Yellowstone Park. Later, he and his brothers made burlap skins for their skis to assist in extensive back country adventures and performing snow surveys throughout the region. His love of skiing continued as a competitive racer in college and active involvement in development of Bridger Bowl, including helping build early lifts and serving on the board of directors. After retiring to West Yellowstone in 1981, he and Frankie continued to ski at Big Sky up to 60 days per year until he was in his early-80s.
While he enjoyed waterskiing, canoe camping, backpacking, hunting and golf, he was most passionate about fly fishing. The Feather Duster nymph he created has become a staple in the tackle boxes of regional fishermen. To him the only thing better than the gratification of catching and releasing a trout on a fly he had tied was sharing this joy with others. His detailed fishing logs chronicle numerous adventures, including those he took under his wing and introduced to the sport. Many fondly recall time spent appreciating nature with Wally while visiting over a snack and awaiting the next insect hatch. Whether fly fishing, skiing or the proper way to peel an orange, Wally was a mentor and teacher far beyond the classroom.
He and Frankie spent 61 remarkable years together enjoying the outdoors, playing bridge and other card games, attending Hawk and Bobcat events, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Time was filled with laughter fueled by his quick wit and love of a good story.
Wally's family includes his wife, Frankie; daughters, Kristie (Scott) McPhie of Bozeman and Kendra (Arnie) Owen of Great Falls; sons, Kim (Darlene) Eagle of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Jack (Vickie) Eagle of Billings; grandchildren, Meagan (Stu) Binenstock, Mark McPhie, Heather McPhie, Brandon (Nicole) Owen, Ryan (Melanie) Owen, Taylor Eagle, Lexi Eagle and Andy Eagle; great-grandchildren Coby and Zac Binenstock, and Presley Owen. He is also survived by his brother, Joe (Kay) Eagle, sister-in-law, Margaret Eagle, and numerous other relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents, eight siblings, great-grandson, Keller Owen, and many extended family members.
A celebration of Wally's life will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 22, 2013 at the Community Protestant Church in West Yellowstone. Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 10113, Bozeman, MT 59718. Memorial donations can be made to the Yellowstone Historic Center, P.O. Box 1299, West Yellowstone, MT 59758; the Bridger Bowl Foundation, 15795 Bridger Canyon Road, Bozeman, MT 59715, or a
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 5, 2013