William J. Swartz Sr. (1920 - 2009)

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Photo – Doris and Bill Swartz

William John Swartz Sr. passed away on July 27, 2009, while fishing near Livingston. He was born on Aug. 9, 1920, to Frances (Staudenmeyer) and Eli Swartz in Portage, Wis.

At a very young age, Bill came to Montana with his family and attended elementary schools in Winnett, Billings, rural North Dakota, and Wibaux. He graduated from Wibaux County High School in 1938. He enrolled at Montana State University (then Montana State College) where, after three years, his education was interrupted by World War II.

Bill enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a commissioned officer after completing 10 months of study in meteorology at UCLA and the University of Chicago. Credits obtained at these schools also enabled him to satisfy the requirements for his bachelor's degree at Montana State College. Shortly afterward, he was sent to the China-India-Burma theater of operations. After six months of service in India, he set up the first weather station in reoccupied Burma, a few miles from where Chinese troops under the command of Gen. Stillwell were pushing the enemy southward. After three months in Burma he was sent to China for the remaining 16 months of the conflict. Bill derived much satisfaction from this period of service to his country.

Bill received a master's degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 and the Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Iowa State University in 1955. He was a professor of mathematics at Montana State University from 1955 until his retirement in 1984. He belonged to scholastic and professional honoraries Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Sigma Xi. He was a member of the American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America, Bozeman United Methodist Church, and was a Gold Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League.

On June 14, 1948, Bill married Doris Miller of Sidney and Bozeman at Copley Methodist Church in Boston. To this union were born two sons, William Jr. and Carl.

Bill loved the outdoors and camping, and was a lifelong hunter and fisherman.

He was active in sports as a youth and a teenager. His favorite was baseball in which he participated to an adult age. His limited skills precluded a career in professional baseball, but he remained an avid fan for the remainder of his life. Bill was a first cousin once removed of Adrian "Addie" Joss who pitched brilliantly nine seasons for the Cleveland Naps (now Indians) from1902 through 1910. Joss was fatally stricken with meningitis a few days before he would have pitched the Cleveland season opener in 1911 and thus participated in 10 major league seasons. For many years, election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., required service in 10 seasons. Bill could see injustice there. Why not allow a waiver of the 10-year rule in the cases of deserving players whose careers were terminated by injury, illness or death? Accordingly, he summarized Joss' credentials, cited instances in which the rules had been waived for certain players, and petitioned the commissioner of baseball for such a rule change. His efforts were successful and shortly afterwards, a committee appointed by the commissioner approved such a rule change, and Joss was soon elected to the Hall of Fame. Bill was invited to attend the annual induction ceremonies at Cooperstown and accept the plaque on behalf of Joss's descendents. He found it very exciting to meet and visit with many of baseball's all-time great players as well as the famed sportscasters, Red Barber and Mel Allen.

Survivors include his son, William "Bill" Jr. of Havre; grandson, Joshua Reaugh of Havre; nieces, Mary Strieby of Mukilteo, Wash., Dee Landers and Alice Beam of Tyler, Texas, Allyson Russell and Marian Russell of Tulsa, Okla.; as well as several cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Doris in 2008; his son, Carl in 1995; and a sister, Alice Austby.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at Bozeman United Methodist Church. A reception at the church will follow.

Memorials are suggested to Bozeman United Methodist Church, 121 S. Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715; or to the Swartz Family Memorial Scholarship, c/o Montana State University Foundation, 1501 S. 11th Ave., P.O. Box 172750, Bozeman, MT 59715.
Funeral Home
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-3184
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from July 30 to July 31, 2009
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