Only the lucky get to die with their wading boots on; John Clifton Bartlett was one such man. He passed away Tuesday evening, Sept. 4, 2012, steps away from the Montana wilderness that he so loved.
John was born Dec. 7, 1947, the treasured first son of John and Edith Bartlett.
He lived life with such love and passion that his heart wore out in just 64 years. A man of many talents, John was a poet, a singer, a fisherman, a hunter, and a true friend. He simply loved life and lived with intensity, humor and joy.
John was a proud member of the 1st of the 9th Cavalry Division Apache troop and served with honor in Vietnam. “Bloody Bart” flew Cobra gunships, earning many medals including a Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Silver Star. He loved his brothers in combat and enjoyed their company until the day he died.
During his 30-year career as a railroad engineer he enjoyed seeing the mountains and animals, and subjecting his captive co-workers to his political expertise.
He relished retirement with his wife of 42 years, his high school sweetheart, Billie Welsh Bartlett. Together, they shared many laughs and smiles through their RV adventures visiting friends. He especially loved his recent fishing trip to Alaska with cherished high school friends, Mike Jenson, Chet Wram and Dave Bilant, and his many hours of lake, river and field time with them and with Julio Delgado and Greg Osler.
John pestered and advised his beloved younger siblings, Jim and Jan, enough to last the rest of their lives. Jim Bartlett and his wife Linda, and Jan Majerus and her husband Larry have many stories to share, and John's kids and grandkids are eager to listen. John's biggest and best legacies are in the lessons he taught.
Dana Bartlett Hull hopes that her children, Logan and Lindy, will inherit her dad's ability to debate (after they leave home). His daughter, Dani Bartlett Harmon, and her husband, Josh, along with their sons, Tanner and Jordan, will strive to emulate his generosity and selflessness. His son, John W. Bartlett, John's wife, Kelly, and their children, Elia and JJ, will try to embody his uncompromising strength of will and his ability to battle through adversity. And his daughter, Darby Bartlett McConaughey, and her husband, Eric, will no doubt keep his legacy of laughter alive by sharing his wit, sarcasm and humor with all those they meet. His wife, Billie, will honor his memory by continuing to share their deep love with the family.
Few people have an impact on the world like John Bartlett. Athlete, academic, hunter, pilot, fisherman, hero, brother, husband, father, granddad, friend; he wore each role as if it was the only thing that mattered in that moment. He will be missed.
In honor of John, please join us in a celebration of life at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10, at Grouse Mountain Lodge to share hors d'oeuvres and stories. If you would also like to share donations in John's name, please donate to the local VFW or the Whitefish Community Library.