William Robert "Bill" Provins passed away of cancer on June 22, 2010, at the Bozeman Lodge. He was born at DeKalb, Texas, on March 12, 1914.
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Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Alice (Holdredge) and Russell Provins; his son, Bob; two sisters, eight brothers; and his wife of 66 years, Geneva, in August 2009.
He is survived by his daughter, Judy Walker and her husband, Frank; Bob's widow, Susie Provins of Spring Hill, Fla.; six grandchildren: Doug Provins, Philip Provins and Eric Provins all of San Diego, Calif., Mark Walker of Portland, Ore., Kathryn Walker and Phillip Walker of Bozeman; and six great-grandchildren: Robert, Ely, Sage, Carter, Cooper and Samantha; and his sister, Billie Rae Veach of Fort Worth Texas.
Son of a sharecropper, Bill grew up in east Texas and Alabama, graduating from high school in 1936. He entered the U.S. Army that fall and served in the horse-drawn field artillery at Fort Sill, Okla. He joined the Navy in October 1940 just before World War II, serving on the LST "Lady Luck" in Tokyo, Yokosuka and Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of the war. He served with the Seabees in the Mediterranean, in Bermuda and at several navy bases all over the United States. As a career U.S. Navy man, operating mess halls and galleys, he retired as an E-7 chief petty officer, the highest enlisted rank at that time.
He and Geneva met in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, while Bill was in the Navy. When he first saw her, he said, "There is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with." They were married on Oct. 31, 1943, in Green Acres, Wash. He has really missed his "honey" since she passed away last year.
He retired from the U.S. Navy in 1957 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, north of Chicago, Ill. He and Geneva loaded up the family in their 1956 Chevy station wagon and a 42-foot trailer and headed west, bound for either Albuquerque or Phoenix. The idea was to retire in some place that had four seasons, a college for the kids and a base for military retiree benefits. They found that new home in Albuquerque.
In Albuquerque, Bill built houses and had a full civil service career at Sandia and Kirtland AFB in the commissary. Bill and Geneva both retired from civil service in 1976. Following retirement, they traveled in their trailer or motorhome to all of the lower 48 states and almost all of the Canadian provinces. Besides trips to Alaska, Hawaii, Rio de Janeiro and New Zealand, they loved to camp in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico and spent many weekends there.
Bill fished all over the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as such places as Cuba and Newfoundland. He especially enjoyed fishing on Rio Grande Lake and the streams near Creede, Colo., an old mining town. He watched others and taught himself to fly fish, but always enjoyed bait fishing in small streams. He caught his last two fish on both the Missouri River and at Hyalite Lake in Montana. Bill also loved to read, play cards and loved to watch football, basketball and baseball.
Although he rarely gained a pound, Bill loved to eat and to cook all his life. The Provins Pizza was the very best! Bill and Geneva were active members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albuquerque for 50 years and moved to Bozeman in April 2007 to be close to their daughter, Judy and her family. As a great storyteller, he will be missed by all of those who knew him. Bill dictated an autobiography called "My Story" in March 2009 in which he wanted to share his life story with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It has just been published.
Bill will be cremated and his ashes will be spread with Geneva's in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. The family wishes to express their gratitude and thanks for the many kindnesses shown during the past year, especially by the Bozeman Deaconess Hospice staff and the Bozeman Lodge staff.
A memorial service for Bill will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 1, in the chapel at the Bozeman Lodge.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 25, 2010