William Marcel (Bill) Cenis of Plains, 82, died in the hospital at Helena on Nov. 10, 2022.
Bill was born on Feb. 19, 1940 in Spokane, WA. He was the youngest son of Edward F. and Hazel T. (Noble) Cenis. Bill had two brothers, Ted and Tom, and a sister, Marylu, all of whom predeceased him.
As a child, Bill lived mostly in Spokane, but traveled to and spent time in the Red Lodge – Bearcreek area, where his father maintained business ties. Skip, as he was known by his peers, graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane in 1958. He attended Gonzaga University, where he met Patricia Somes. They married in 1960.
Journalism was Bill’s favored field, working first at Spokane Valley Press as ad salesman. But advertising was his business for years in Seattle and in Spokane, and culminated with his last 18 years as director for a chain of seven retail stores owned by Drug Fair Northwest in Kalispell. That opportunity precipitated the move of the family to Montana.
While at Drug Fair, the possibility arose to publish a newspaper. Patricia worked for an accountant who had the means, and he joined with Bill, who had the heart and expertise, to create “The Bigfork Eagle.”
Later, when the partnership began to unravel, Bill moved on to start the “Mountain Standard Times,” and eventually sold it to a Midwest newspaper chain.
When Drug Fair closed doors, Bill was able to work full time as writer, editor, publisher – all the parts of journalism he loved and at which he excelled, in several areas of Montana.
At one time, he was editor of the Clark Fork Valley Press in Plains, where he resided most recently. In another venture, Bill and his son Torrey worked together publishing a national fishing newsletter, “Streamlines.” The newspaper episode ended with retirement. Bill had been publishing three papers from the Red Lodge area: Carbon County News, Stillwater County News in Columbus, and the Big Horn County News. That last position allowed Bill and Pat to live in Bearcreek, where his parents had lived in their youth and started the family into which Bill was born. Bill was active in the small, yet vital community that meant so much to him.
Bill was the father of four sons, all of whom played hockey in Spokane, beginning when they were very young. When not coaching, he helped administer the youth league. Moving to Montana, hockey was replaced by soccer, basketball, football, camping, hunting and fishing. Bill was enthusiastic about every bit of it, and always the father his boys and many of their friends could count on. It would be accurate to say the most meaningful titles one could use for Bill would be Father, Husband, Fisherman.
Bill’s sons all are men of whom he was proud. The example Bill set took hold and they display the best of honest, hard-working Montana values. Christopher Edward of Clinton, MT, the first son, and married to Sharla Nelson, has two daughters, Rande and Sidonie, and a son, Marcel. Mark William of Easton, WA, the next son, has a son William and daughter Alena, and his wife Lisa Evans-Cenis added two daughters, Morgan and Korbyn. Ian Robert of Bigfork, MT, third born, married Rebecca Wolf and they have three daughters, Bryttne, JenaRae, Lila Lee, and one son, Nicholas. Youngest son, Torrey Marcel of Minot, ND, predeceased Bill by 13 months. He left wife Jacqueline Reeves and two daughters, Kyra and Karli. There are seven great–grandchildren from this group, one predeceased.
Bill is survived by family already mentioned, with the exception of son Torrey. He is also survived by wife Patricia Somes Cenis, at home in Plains, MT. He is survived by nieces and nephews and their families in Spokane, WA, as well as many in-laws in the family of wife Patricia, also in Spokane.
For over ten years prior to retirement in 2007, Bill worked on a family history, centered primarily on his family of immigrant coal mine workers. He sent and received letters back and forth to France, Belgium and Italy. This was before common use of computers as we know them now. With that start, and more ability to use today’s technology, Bill wrote his book entitled “From Belgium to Bearcreek,” and gifted every family member with one. The book begins with a quote from famed fisherman and minister, Henry VanDyke:
What you possess in the world will be found at the day of
your death to belong to someone else.
But what you are will be yours forever.
Rest in peace, beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and master of Lilly, who misses you, too.
If you wish to make a memorial donation, please do so to your favorite charity.
The Cenis family plans to have a celebration of Bill’s life sometime in Summer, 2023.
Simple Cremation Montana has been in charge of arrangements.