Cover photo for Robert William "Bill" Denton's Obituary
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Robert William "Bill" Denton

May 14, 1945 — April 15, 2024

Robert William "Bill" Denton

Robert William “Bill” Denton passed away peacefully on April 15, 2024 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after a brief illness following surgery. He was surrounded by family and friends in his last days before reuniting with his late wife Mary Ellen Denton who passed on September 14, 2023.

Bill was born May 14, 1945 in Hartford, CT, the oldest son of Robert E. and Marian Faye Denton. He spent his younger years there before the family moved to Michigan. Later the family moved to Coeur d’Alene, ID where he attended elementary school, played baseball, and spent days at the lake with his brothers and friends. The family then moved to Missoula, MT where he graduated from Missoula County High School in 1963. He went on to attend the University of Montana, receiving his B.S. in Wildlife Biology in 1970. During that time, he spent summers working in Yellowstone National Park where he met many of his lifelong friends. In 1974, he received his M.S. in Environmental Science from UM. He then took a job as a registered sanitarian in Sheridan, Wyoming and he would make his home there until 1988.

In 1980, his life changed dramatically after a trip to Missoula, MT, where he was set up on a blind date. There he met the lady who later became the love of his life and wife of 43 years, Mary Ellen Acheson. They were married later that year, Aug. 8, 1980 in Sheridan, Wyoming with Mary Ellen’s children, Miri (5) and Mac (3) by their side. Bill welcomed them all into his home in Sheridan and the family enjoyed summers of camping in the Big Horn Mountains, trips to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone Park, the Tetons and anywhere else they could pitch a tent. During that time, they made wonderful memories with their neighborhood friends, many who have remained friends over the last 40+ years.

In 1988, Bill and the family moved to Helena, MT where he and his brother Greg started a business, Cedar Products Unlimited. He worked the business for several years before he took a job with the State of Montana as a registered sanitarian/health inspector in 1991. While in Helena, the family enjoyed spending weekends camping in the mountains, entertaining friends, and going to the lakes in the area. Bill was happiest in the outdoors sharing his passion for wildlife and wildflowers. He also enjoyed playing the banjo and guitar, painting landscapes and wildlife, and playing golf. Cooking was also a passion as he was eager to try the latest barbeque recipes or make Asian cuisine. Despite his sometimes gruff, quiet exterior, inside he had a big heart, sarcastic whit and loved to teach. He shared his vast knowledge with his kids, showing them how to ride their bikes, pitch a tent, start a fire, drive a stick shift truck, prep food for his Chinese dinners, how to write and edit a paper, and how to appreciate music, ethnic food, and art.

In 1993, Bill and his family made their final move, back to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to live in his parents’ house after his father’s passing. While in Coeur d’Alene, Bill worked for the Spokane County Health Department and then later, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe where he made strong friendships in both jobs, ones that lasted long after retirement.

Upon retiring, Bill and Mary Ellen traveled to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Oregon Coast, and some of their favorite stops in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. With kids grown and gone, Bill and Mary Ellen spent many weekends at his brother Mark’s cabin in Trout Creek, MT. They were truly happy with the simple things in life, spending time outdoors, visits and dinners with family and friends, cooking their own delicious dinners, and caring for their multiple dogs.

In the later years, camping trips became more difficult as Mary Ellen battled health issues that prevented them from going like they used to. Bill cared for her until her passing in September of 2023. Once she was gone, he struggled to find purpose with no one to cook for or travel with and the health issues that had bothered him for years, worsened with grief.

While we are saddened that he no longer is here to share stories and laughs with his friends and family, we are comforted knowing that he is with his wife, his dogs, and all the friends who passed before him.

Bill is preceded in death by his parents and his wife Mary Ellen. He is survived by his brother Mark (Susie) Denton of Missoula,MT, brother Greg Denton of Helena, MT , daughter Miri (Travis) Faller and grandchildren Dawson and Malia of Missoula,MT, son Mac (Katie) Disney and grandchildren Alexander and Annabelle of Rathdrum,ID, and cherished family and friends including Mike Schruth, Anita Bell, Bill Nielsen, Jerry Good, Gary Lancaster, and Krysta Hess.

A Celebration of Life for Bill and Mary Ellen Denton will be held Sunday, June 2, 2024 at 1pm at the Meadowlark Pavilion, Fort Missoula, Missoula, MT. Please come to share stories and fellowship with all who loved them and feel free to comment on your special connections with them in the guestbook below.
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