William Leroy Mathers, age 89, died Saturday, June 15, in Fargo, ND, surrounded by his daughters. Bill was born September 29, 1923, in Mobeetie, TX, to Violet Rees Mathers and George Benjamin Mathers. He was raised in Canadian, Texas, where he graduated from Canadian High School in 1940. He graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1942 and attended the University Of Texas School Of Law. In January of 1943, he entered the U.S. Army. He served as a ball turret gunner on a B24 crew with the 737th Bomb Squadron in the 454th Bomber Group of the 15th Army Air Corps. He was honorably discharged in October of 1945.

He married Mary Charlotte Word on June 16, 1946. Following their marriage, they ranched in Canadian, TX.  In 1951, Bill and his family moved to Miles City, MT, where he and his brother Frank operated the Mathers Brothers Ranch, which later became the Mathers Land Company. Frank and his wife, Betty, died in a plane crash in 1979. Bill continued the ranching operation until 2005, when he sold the ranch and retired. In January 2012, he moved to the Touchmark retirement community in Fargo, ND.

Public service was a prominent part of Bill’s life. In 1958, he was elected to the Custer County Elementary School District Board of Trustees. He served until 1967, including one term as chairman. In 1960, he was elected to the Montana House of Representatives. He served in the House until 1964, when he was elected to the Senate. He served in the Senate until 1980, including being unanimously elected as President of the Senate in 1979. From 1981 to 1987, Bill served as a director of the Federal Reserve 9th District Board of Governors, Minneapolis, MN. He served under both Paul Volker and Alan Greenspan. He was the first chairman of the lay advisory board of the Federal Reserve Board and chaired the audit committee for two years. From 1988 to 1993, he served as a member of the Montana Board of Regents. He was Chairman of the Board of Regents from 1990 to 1993. In 1994, Bill was the recipient of the Montana State University Blue and Gold Award for his widespread impact on agriculture. Bill was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and a member of the Presbyterian Church of Miles City for more than 50 years. He was a founding member of the Miles City Town & Country Club and a member and president of the Miles City Club. If Bill were asked to name hobbies, he would say over the course of his life he enjoyed golfing, bridge, travel and piloting his private aircraft. His true joy came from time spent with his wife of 55 years and his family.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife Charlotte of Miles City, MT, who died in 2001, his parents of Canadian, TX, and his brother, Frank, of Miles City. He is survived by his five daughters: Margaret Novak (Mike) of Chester, MT, Sharon Secor (Gary) of Fargo, ND, Barbara Mathers-Schmidt (Bob) of Bellingham, WA, Libby Gardner (Marshall) of Boise, ID and Mimi Meredith (Greg) of Hutchinson, KS; 13 grandchildren: William (Abby) Novak, Andrea Novak Klein (Charlie), Jennifer Secor Nelson (Dan), Molly Secor-Turner (Ryan), Laura Secor Sundberg (Dan), Emily Secor May (Colin), Jonathan Schmidt, Michael Schmidt, Erin Gardner, Kelly Gardner, William Meredith, Patrick Meredith and Mary Charlotte Meredith; seven great grandchildren: Rees Turner, Maddy Turner, Emmett Turner, Jonas Nelson, Charlotte Nelson, Wynne Novak and Maggie Sundberg; his brother Ben (Sandra) of Canadian, TX, and his nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly.

Friends are welcome to celebrate Bill’s life at services in both Fargo and Miles City.  The Fargo celebration will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18 at Touchmark, 1200 Harwood Dr. In Miles City, the family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20th, at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home, and a celebration of Bill’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 21 at First Presbyterian Church. Interment will follow at Custer County Cemetery.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Bill and Charlotte Mathers Family Foundation, or the organization of the donor’s choice.

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  1. Missoula MTBill was a great statesman. He was a role model to me and many others who served in the legislature. Montana is a better place because of his service.

  2. Anaconda MontanaAlthough it has been many years since I have seen Bill it was a pleasure to work with him on the Board of Regents. He was a great chairman who taught us all a lot about the way things should be handled. God bless.

  3. Irmo SCTo the family and friends of Mr. William Mathers ,
    So sorry to hear of your loss of your Mr. William Mathers. Although I did not have the personal privilege of knowing your Mr. Mathers, I do know the pain of losing someone so near to you and I wanted to offer my condolences and some comfort.
    We can draw much comfort from God’s Word, The Bible. Very soon, we will see God’s promise of the resurrection fulfilled. We read at John 5:28,29-“Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out”. Imagine the joy of seeing and holding your Mr. William Mathers again! These promises are sure to come, for God cannot lie.
    May these promises bring hope and comfort to you during this most difficult time. For more comfort, please visit http://www.jw.org.
    With deepest sympathy.

  4. Inverness montanaMargaret and families, my thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. May all your memories of the special times with your dad give you comfort in the days ahead.

  5. Hutchinson KSMimi & family,

    We hope your memories and fond remembrances of of your parents carry you through this difficult time. We are with you in spirit as you celebrate your father’s life.

    Loving thoughts to all of you,
    Molly McVicker
    Chapter D, P.E.O.

  6. Our family is praying that this time of reflection and celebration of your Dad’s and Grandad’s life brings you all even closer together. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time…and always.

  7. Libby and all – Heartfelt sympathy and love to all of you. Please know it’s been my honor to know your dad, to be a part of a few of the Bill Mathers stories……and to have heard so many more. Cherish those memories and know that through sharing them, your dad’s legacy will continue through all of you.
    Love you,

  8. Billings MontanaSo many wonderful memories, where does one start. The main thing that stays with me, are the many get togethers that our parents had. Have all the pictures and memories to look back on.
    Our best to all of you. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Jim & Kathy

  9. Atlanta GeorgiaDear Mimi,

    Thinking of you and praying for all the family during this time of great loss. Your father was an incredible man and person whereas I knew most of his accomplishments from our chats at Cottey and over time – I learned some new things. He was definitely a hero to many, especially to his family. I am glad you were able to be there with him.

    Love to all the Mathers – blessings,


  10. Maurertown VAWhat an amazing life and enduring legacy. My love and prayers are beaming your way for comfort, peace, and wonderful memories.

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