Walter J. Oyler, 71, of Manhattan passed away Tuesday, July 31 at his fishing lodge on the Kenai River east of Soldotna, Alaska from the debilitating effects of Parkinson's Disease and a stroke. He was born Aug. 8, 1940, the eldest child of Enos and Bette Oyler.
Walter's early life was spent at the family home/ranch east of Manhattan along the Gallatin River. His interests included the sawmill and logging operations of Oyler Lumber plus hunting and fishing at every opportunity. He was named the county's "Fishing King" during the 1953 Fish Rodeo at 12 years of age. He attended Manhattan schools, graduating as valedictorian of the 1958 high school class. He worked in the family business several years before answering a personal call to which he gave seven years of his life in the ministry of the Gospel.
Walter worked a brief time in the logging industry for Brist Logging in Libby, Mont. after which he and a brother purchased the master franchise for ServiceMaster in Montana, northern Wyoming and southern Idaho. Later, he purchased the New Mexico master franchise and operated local ServiceMaster outlets in Bozeman, Sheridan, Wyo., and Albuquerque, N.M. Later enterprises in which he partnered include Bridger Mountain Log Homes of Belgrade, Gerbers, Inc. and Rite by Curtis, both of Great Falls.
Walter began to build in 1995 what became one of the finest log construction fishing lodges on the Kenai River where he conducted, with the help of others, a bed and breakfast business that was frequented with the same guests year after year. His management of the business ended when he was disabled by a stroke in 2009. His acquaintances, personal and business, remember him for his energy, hard work, ethics, attention to detail and convictions that were manifest in his handiwork and manner of life.
Walter is survived by his mother, Bette Oyler; brothers, Truitt (Judy) Oyler and Bill (Judy) Oyler; sister, Bette Gail (Jeff) Wulf; aunt, Cecil Bekemens; cousins, Sandra Denesen, Allen Stephens, Carole Erickson, Julie Stephens, Ruth Ashmore, Sue Nelson, Larry Oyler, Louise Oyler, Nelson Oyler, Gay Christianson and Greg Horan; nieces, Tanya Young and Janelle Adams; nephews, Steven Wulf, Ross Oyler, Barry Wulf, and Travis Oyler; and 12 great nieces and nephews.
He was a lifetime founding member of the Manhattan Public Schools Foundation, and was associated with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust stewardship program.
A memorial service will be held Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, 113 S. Willson Ave. in Bozeman. Interment will be at Meadow View Cemetery near Manhattan. A reception will follow at the Manhattan High School activities room for friends and family.
Memorial donations in Walter's name may be made to the Manhattan Public Schools Foundation, PO Box 1223, Manhattan, MT 59741-0425.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.