William Wrather Keshishian, lover of life, master builder, father, husband, friend, contrarian, philosopher, brother, son. He was a man who touched the lives of countless people wherever he went. His charisma could light up a room.
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BK. Bill. Billy. Willer. Will'am. WillyBoy.
He died on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, after an admirable battle with Medullary thyroid cancer, surrounded by those who love him deeply in the home he built for himself and his family. He was 56.
Bill's family was the center of his life. His boys, Liam, 13, and Sam, 10, were a source of boundless love and pride. His wife, Moira, was his soul mate. Together their small tribe traveled to Egypt, the Caribbean, Mexico, on adventures in the U.S. and logged innumerable Montana miles for the boys' Gallatin Gateway School wrestling matches, as well as for basketball and baseball games.
As owner of Elephant Builders, Bill was a consummate professional with dedication to his craft. He was a perfectionist. He was a builder with an artist's heart and true integrity.
Bill danced into this world on Nov. 24, 1954. He was born in Washington, D.C., the only boy with three sisters. He grew up in suburban D.C., Bethesda, Md., but quickly blazed his own trail out of the beltway and into the big world. His work took him to Kenya, where he learned how elephants think and mastered his own version of the Swahili language. He traveled the globe. He studied jazz saxophone at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.; trained as an orthopedic farrier shoeing polo ponies; tended bar; loved champagne and tequila; was a cabinet maker and a fine man. He called Montana home.
With his mother, Catherine Morgan Wrather, as his business partner and his life's staunchest supporter, Bill restored the historic Gallatin Gateway Inn to grandeur in the 1980s. He dedicated himself to the Inn with passion, reclaiming an important landmark in the region. It was a project that connected him to a community in both Gateway and in Bozeman.
Beyond his generous spirit, big heart and smiling eyes, Bill was known for his sense of humor. To the end he found a way to make each of us laugh when it seemed we could only cry. He will be greatly missed. He's smiling at us even now, just out of reach, but he will always be with us.
He is survived by his wife, Moira Haggerty Keshishian; sons, Liam Kerr Keshishian and Samuel Wrather Keshishian; sisters, Caren Sage (husband, Paul Sage and their son, Cody) of Boise, Idaho, Margaret "Peggy" Keshishian of Cairo, Egypt, and Alicia Keshishian (husband, Billy Bramblett) of Petaluma, Calif.; his father, Dr. John Keshishian (wife, Nancy Lee Keshishian) of McLean, Va.; the extended Haggerty family: sister, Carol Haggerty Reardon (husband, Jim Reardon); sister, Beth Beldock (husband, Gregg Beldock and children, Geordie, Amory and Sydney); sister, Gwenne Dawson (husband, Jim Dawson and children, Katie, Meg and Sarah); brother, Richard Haggerty; and parents, Ed and Marti Haggerty; Dory the golden doodle; and many, many friends.
His mother, Catherine Morgan Wrather, preceded him in death.
A celebration of Bill's life will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at the Gallatin Gateway Inn. A reception will follow the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Keshishian Children Educational Trust. Contributions may be mailed to 431 N. Yellowstone, Livingston, MT 59047.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12, 2010