July 24, 2008


William “Honest Bill” Gaylord Aldridge, 65, a retired Air Force veteran and owner of Aldridge’s Wood in Great Falls, MT, died of cancer July 1, 2008, in his home in Great Falls, MT.

Funeral services were held on July 7, 2008 at Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Chapel, with burial in Highland Cemetery, in Montana. Officiating the services was Rev. Bob Brown. Pallbearers were Dick Ellis, Theodore DeCelles, Clint Tyler, James Tyler, Gary Hartman, and Larry Powell. Honorary pallbearers were Gary Aldridge, Don Reese, Bob Franklin, Leon Nunez, Larry Garrett, Dick Bason, Bill Garberg, Old Crew 12-2, Dick Buddy, Rodney Kuhn, and Tim Russell. A reception followed at Schnider Funeral in Great Falls, MT.

Survivors include his wife, Thelma Aldridge of Great Falls, MT; children, Lisa Ellis of Warren, MI, Shelley Ricketts of Mount Vernon, WA, Craig DeCelles of Great Falls, MT, Royce Aldridge of Yerington, NV, and Cherish Aldridge of Great Falls, MT; a brother, Gary Lee Aldridge of Memphis, MO; a sister, Barbara Holton of Hudson, SD; six grandchildren, Joshua, Chelsi, Cameron, Ryanne Riley and Sawyer; and three great-grandchildren.

“Honest Bill” was born October 16, 1942, in Burlington, IA, to Perley and Violet (Anders) Aldridge. He was raised in Downing, MO, and labored on his Uncle Henry’s and Aunt Ruby’s farm while he was growing up. He graduated from Downing High School in 1960.

He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1961, and proudly served his country for 22 years. During his military career, he was stationed in and traveled to five of the seven continents. He earned the rank of master sergeant and retired with an honorable discharge.

“Honest Bill” married Thelma Ann DeCelles in 1974, and together they raised five successful children. His relationship with each of his children was unique. Each child had their own path, but he found a way to share in their interests, encourage their pursuits and enjoy their successes.

He was an avid reader, enjoyed playing pinochle and loved garage sales. He was passionate about storytelling and he made time for his friends, as they were one of his priorities. One goal he made but was unable to achieve because of his medical condition was to float the Missouri River from its beginning at Three Forks, MT, all the way to the Mississippi River in Missouri.

“Honest Bill” believed in treating people right and being fair. He could often be heard saying’ “Hurry every chance you get!”; “Up and at ‘em”; and “Get ’er done!”

He was preceded in death by his mother, Violet Aldridge. Condolences may be posted online at www.scniderfuneral home.com and/or www.gftribune.com/obituaries.

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