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William "Bill" H. Decker, 74, of Darby, passed away Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 at home after a short battle with cancer. He was born at home on March 13, 1944 in Braidwood, Illinois, the son of the late Daniel and Laura (Smith) Decker, as the youngest of 10 children. His 3 oldest brothers were serving in WWII when they received news of his birth.
Bill lost his father at the age of 7 due to a logging accident. His mother later remarried, and his stepfather, Ed Rockhold , died when he was 15. He and his mother moved frequently, causing Bill to attend 27 different schools in 9 years. He later obtained his GED in the U S Army. After serving from 1963 to 1969 in the regular Army, Bill served in the Army National Guard from 1971 to 1973, as a member of the 163d Armored Cavalry in Hamilton, Montana.
In 1963, he enlisted in the Army. On March 3, 1969, he married Ruth Bartel in Augusta, South Carolina. They met at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where both were soldiers. In July of that year, Bill was deployed to Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange, leaving him with the devastating side effects of PTSD and various other diseases. He was eventually rated 100 % disabled due to many of these side effects.
After being discharged, they moved to the Bitterroot Valley, returned to his home state of Illinois, followed by residences in Missouri and Colorado. After returning to Darby, he worked as a carpenter, and completed his working career as the Public Works Director in Darby for 21 years.
Bill was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 938, and was the commander of the Lost Trail VFW post in Darby. He enjoyed his family, traveling, square dancing, playing pinochle with friends George and Janie Cuff, woodworking, and auto mechanics; but most of all his relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was a member of New Life Foursquare Church in Darby for over 30 years.
Bill is survived by his wife Ruth of Darby; 1 daughter, Sharon Westfall of Darby, and 1 son, Daniel and wife Rene', of Miles City, Montana. He also leaves behind 8 grandchildren: Sharon's children Marissa (Weslie), William, Anthony (Vicky), and Tyler; and Daniel's children Anthony (CharLi), Levi (Lupita), Tasha (Ryan), and Seth. He had 4 great grandchildren: Aidley, Alyson, Wyatt, and Xavier (born about an hour and a half before Bill passed away).
He is also survived by 1 brother, Bob and Marg Decker of Atwater, Illinois, and a huge extended family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, 3 brothers and 5 sisters.
He leaves behind 2 foster sons Randy Dugan and Sonny Miller, as well as bonus children Jack Stanford, Buck Brown, Fred Van Maanen, Sharee McKinney, and Shantel Brewer-Smith; and their children. He is also survived by a special friend and solid rock for the family, Mason Cromwell.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at the Darby Clubhouse, with Pastor John Yuhas officiating. It will be followed immediately with a potluck in the Clubhouse. Please be prepared to share your favorite memories.
Inurnment will be held this summer at the Western Montana Veterans' Cemetery in Missoula, after his grandson returns from deployment and when his granddaughter is able to travel with his newest great grandson.
The family requests no flowers and suggests that memorials be made to New Life Foursquare Church, P.O. Box 794, Darby MT 59829, or to the Veterans Monument, PO Box 1391, Hamilton MT 59840.