William Leslie Chittick
Engineer, veteran, loving husband and father
William “Bill” Leslie Chittick, a longtime Claremont resident, died on May 16, 2013 at Sunrise Assisted Living of Claremont, surrounded by his loving family.
Mr. Chittick was born on September 3, 1924 in Buffalo, Wyoming. He was the fourth of 5 children and the second son of William Andrew and Elva (Dierdorff) Chittick. Shortly after his birth, the Chitticks moved from Buffalo to Helena, Montana, where Mr. Chittick started elementary school.
After young Bill finished the first grade, the Chittick family moved to Belt, Montana, where he attended Belt Valley Grade School followed by Belt Valley High School. In Mr. Chittick’s own words, he was an “average student.” However, he developed into a champion runner in the half-mile race, breaking school and regional records, some of which still remain to this day. He also lettered in football and basketball.
After graduating high school in May of 1942, Mr. Chittick started college at the University of Washington in Seattle. After his first semester, he joined the Army and, after infantry training, he left the United States for Europe on December 1, 1944. He served in Germany from December 25, 1944 to January 19, 1945, at which point he was transported to France. It was there, on February 17, 1945, in a small, war-torn village, that a mortar exploded behind him as he stood talking with fellow solder. His comrade was killed and Mr. Chittick was severely wounded. With a nearly severed left arm and multiple deep shrapnel wounds to his legs and back, he was sent back to the United States on the US Army Hospital Ship the “Acadia.”
He arrived in Charleston, South Carolina at Stark General Hospital in April 1945. After the initial surgeries and recovery, he was transferred to the McCaw General Hospital in Fort Lewis in Walla Walla, Washington. He left Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City, Utah, the site of his final rehab, on May 1946.
Although his life had been derailed by the events of the war, Mr. Chittick refused to be deterred. He resumed his studies, enrolling at Montana State College in Bozeman, Montana in June 1946. It was there that he met the love of his life, Eva Marie Ingram. They were married on December 27, 1948, a union that lasted 58 years until Mrs. Chittick’s death in 2006. They married during the Christmas break from school so Mr. Chittick could continue his studies. He earned a degree in industrial engineering in June 1950.
After graduation, Mr. Chittick stayed in Bozeman and worked as a territory manager for the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. During this time, they relocated from Bozeman to Missoula, where they welcomed their first child, Michael Allen, on January 1, 1954.
After almost 5 years, the Chitticks welcomed their second child, a girl named Lori Kay. Realizing that the store was not going to provide the financial security that he desired for his family, Mr. Chittick accepted a position as an industrial engineer with Convair, a defense contractor in San Diego, California.
Mr. Chittick and his family spent 10 blissful years in San Diego, where Mr. Chittick was very active with his family, enjoyed camping and backpacking and serving as a Boy Scout leader.
A work-related transfer sent them for a short stay in Montreal, Canada before General Dynamics transferred him back to Pomona in 1972. The family settled in nearby Claremont, where Mr. Chittick remained for the remainder of his career and subsequent retirement years, traveling and enjoying family.
Mr. Chittick’s trademark qualities were his quiet confidence, unwavering honesty and loyalty, according to family, who say they will miss his happy greeting of “How do you do?”
“He lived his life with thoughtful purpose and handled any challenges with dignity and courage. He was the rock that everyone clung to, and he willingly and lovingly took care of everyone,” his daughter Lori shared. “Our worlds feel a little less secure without him.”
Mr. Chittick was preceded in death by his sisters, Margaret and Marion, by his brothers, James and Robert, and by his beloved wife, Eva. He is survived by his son, Mike Chittick of Estacada, Oregon; by his daughter and son-in law, Lori Gordien and Jody Case of Claremont; by his grandsons, Will Chittick of Estacada, Oregon, and Kyle Case of Claremont; and by his great-granddaughter Grace of Estacada, Oregon.
The family asks that donations be made to the Prairie County Cemetery in Terry, Montana (PO Box 125, Terry, MT 59349) or to the charity of your choice.