Wade was born on a wintry February day in 1950 in Missoula. The world was touched by his creative talents and his positive, inquisitive, adventurous, gentle, and often times, witty nature. He graduated from Sentinel High School in 1968 and went on to earn a degree in art from Montana State University in 1972. By that time he was a loving husband to Paula and a proud father of his only son, Krist.
He began a long and successful career teaching in Sydney, Australia. Wade then taught in Montana schools large and small, retiring after a 23-year career with the Thompson Falls School District. He was selected Montana Art Educator of the Year and was the first Montana art teacher to be awarded National Board Certification. He was granted a Fulbright Memorial Fund scholarship to study the education system of Japan. During one summer vacation, The Art Institute of Chicago provided him with a studio to explore his passion for painting. Wade was active in the Montana Art Education Association over the years. With his creative juices continuing to flow, he painted full time for the next seven years. He built a studio on the shores of the Clark Fork that sits behind the home he shared with Paula and their two rescue dogs. His work was exhibited in many galleries and art museums around the state. On the day of his passing, an opening of his most recent show was held in uptown Butte.
Where art was the Yin of his being, fighting forest fires was the Yang. He held various positions as a fire fighter and squad boss with the DNRC of the State of Montana. By the end of his 18-year career fighting wildland fires, he had a reputation as fearless in the face of fire and skilled and confident at developing a plan of attack. He continued to feel the thrill of the chase as thunderstorms would rumble overhead long after his firefighting days were over.
Another passion manifested itself in what looked a lot like hunting. Sure, he bagged his share of wild game, but never for the trophy but for the challenge of fair chase. He would wait impatiently for the coming of fall and his time to walk afield with his thoughts and trusty Stanley thermos. No tree was spared from his rest at its base to savor a good cup of coffee and reassess his hunting plan for the day. Long after his treatments robbed him of his mobility, he would still enjoy sharing a good hunting story.
In the years between his first cancer diagnosis and his passing, Wade and Paula spent much of their time traveling. They crossed the country several times as well as visited the countries of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, China, Tibet, Italy, Turkey, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma.
Wade is survived by Paula, his wife of 44 years, his son Krist (Jessie), and his grandchildren Leif and Sophie, of Albuquerque, N.M. He leaves behind his brothers Harold (Anne) of Missoula and brother Jerry (Susan) of Casper, Wyo.; his sister, Colleen Baldwin (Butch) of Missoula; brother-in-law, Bill Jacobson (Robyn) of Herndon, Virg.; brother- in-law Tom Jacobson (Merri) of Blue Springs, Mo.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A special thanks goes out to Dr. Michael Snyder of the Montana Cancer Center. He kept Wade’s cancers at bay so he could continue to paint and his family could have his gentle presence in their lives for as long as possible. The nurses at the treatment center were not only professional in their care, but also loving and kind. Wade’s family will never forget the special care they gave him each and every week.
Funeral services will be held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Thompson Falls Saturday, August 15 at 2 p.m. A luncheon will follow in the church fellowship hall. A family gathering in the summer of 2016 will be held at Wade’s Greenough cabin. If so desired, Wade would be pleased with donations made to the Cancer Network of Sanders County or TRACS, Thompson River Animal Care Shelter.