Wilma Illich (1933 - 2015)

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Aug. 30, 1933 ~ May 22, 2015
Wilma was born in New Hradec, North Dakota, to Frank and Agnes Sadowsky. Wilma lost her mother and twin brother Wilfred at a young age. She grew up on her father's farm with her brother Frank and her four sisters, Marie, Peggy, Sally and Meg. She died peacefully among family in Tacoma, Washington, following a short illness.

Willie, as her family and friends knew her, was a wonderful mother of seven children, a loving spouse, a generous grandmother, a hard worker, and a world traveler.

Willie attended Model High School in Dickinson, North Dakota. In 1952, Willie fell in love with Tony Illich, and the couple married in Dickinson. They had three children before moving West to Wyoming and Montana. Mountains and natural beauty called the family to the scenic wonderlands of Cody, Wyoming, and Billings, Lewistown, Kalispell, and Bozeman, Montana, where they enjoyed the outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing, and exploring. Willie always enjoyed outings with friends, playing games (especially bridge), and holding social events.

As her children matured, Willie embraced the working world of travel consulting and bookkeeping, as she managed travel details for hundreds of clients at Big Horn Travel in Cody, and later at Flathead Travel in Kalispell. In Kalispell, she worked for Moose Miller and opened the doors to Glacier Travel, hired staff and built a new agency for travelers to and from the beautiful Flathead Valley. Willie herself traveled the world as she visited places across Canada, England, Ireland, Thailand, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Once the children all graduated high school and left home, Tony and Willie moved to Bozeman, Montana where they lived contentedly nestled in the majestic Gallatin Valley at the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park. During her retirement, Willie especially enjoyed long day hikes with Tony in the surrounding mountains. Having more time, Tony and Willie had the chance to travel abroad together, and explored from where their grandparents emigrated to the United States in the areas of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia. These were to be the golden years.

Plans changed, however, on a fateful day in the Seattle area on a visit to their children in the year 2000. Willie was seriously injured in a vehicle accident almost exactly fifteen years prior to the day she passed. Willie was paralyzed from the waist down and was wheelchair bound for her remaining life. Tony and Willie remained in Seattle that day and have lived since in Federal Way, Washington, among family in the Puget Sound Region.

Following the accident, Willie saw and enjoyed many wonderful events including the growth of her ten grandchildren. She became an ardent supporter of the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawks. She also contributed and participated in the local Catholic parish of St. Theresa's.

Willie's greatest love was for her family, her husband, children, grandchildren, and extended family. She could recite birth dates of all 60+ of her nieces and nephews. She was a hub of communications for not only her immediate family but hundreds of friends and relatives all around the world. Her hand-writing was firm and unmistakable. But she also embraced computer technology and loved using email as a means to send birthday and anniversary greetings and stay in touch with her loved ones.

Wilma is survived by her husband Tony, two daughters, Cody (Kurt) and Susan, five sons, Dan, Russ (Caroline), Jim (Alyson), Fred (Joan), and John (Lisa), and ten grandchildren, Ben, Lexie, Matthew, Claire, Morgan, Hannah, Laura, Colter, Natalie and Sam. She is also survived by her sister Meg.

She was preceded in death by her Mother Agnes, Father Frank, Sisters Martha, Marie, Peggy and Sally, brothers Wilfred and Frank, son-in-law Jason and daughter-in-law Loretta.

Funeral Mass is June 5, 1:30 p.m., at St. Theresa's Catholic Church, 3939 SW 331st St., Federal Way, Washington 98003. Prayer Service is June 4, 7 p.m., at Bonney-Watson Funeral Home, 1535 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way, WA 98023
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 31, 2015
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