William J. “Bill” Lannan, 85, passed away peacefully December 9, 2016 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, Montana. Bill was the third of four children born to James W. & Agnes D. Lannan on June 22, 1931 in Sheridan, Wyoming. He attended Holy Name Catholic School and graduated from Sheridan High School in 1949.
Bill’s passion for golf began at an early age helping his parents who managed the Kendrick Municipal Golf Course in Sheridan. He won the high school championship four consecutive year,; the Wyoming Junior Golf championship, and competed in the National Tournament in Houston, Texas.
In the fall of 1951, Bill arrived at Carroll College, where under the mentorship of Bishop Bernard Topel, he excelled in math and physics. Bill won the Montana Collegiate Golf Championship four consecutive years, (before Frontier Conference) and was inducted into Carroll’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. He graduated in 1954 with a degree in math.
It was during his years at Carroll that Bill met Gail Milch and they were married on August 28, 1954 in St. Helena Cathedral.
Following the wedding, they headed for the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where Bill entered the graduate program in physics. Bill spent time in Old Brace Lab, tutored foreign students and Gail worked at Love Memorial Library. Upon graduation in 1956 with a Master’s in physics, Bill was hired by Hughes Aircraft as a research physicist/engineer at the Culver City, California plant. He worked primarily on the Falcon air-to-air missile.
A call form Archbishop Raymond Hunthuasen brought Bill back to his Carroll “family” as Chairman of the Physics Department.
For the next seven years, Bill was involved with teaching, coaching the golf team and establishing the 3/2 engineering program that connected with MSU, Notre Dame and Columbia. This successful program continues at Carroll.
During the summers, Bill was in charge of a survey crew for the forest service and spent time backpacking into the wilderness area near Helena with family and friends.
It was at Carroll that Bill established a life-long friendship with one of his students – Roy Simperman (1962). In later years, Bill assisted Roy with the Elsie Pauly-Corette scholarship program for students pursuing medical school. Roy’s ongoing generosity also established the William J. Lannan endowed Chair of Physics at Carroll to honor his treasured friendship.
Bill also served on the Board of the Helena Davis Medical Scholarship Committee.
Bill began his 32 years with the university system, including the role of Institutional Studies Office of the Executive Secretary, in 1964. These areas of responsibility expanded to the Community college Coordinator; Vocational Education Liaison; Capital Construction Committee; Federal Projects Coordinator; and Liaison to Registrars & Admission Officers.
In 1980, Bill became the Director of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, formed by the Montana Legislature and placed under the direction and supervision of the Board of Regents. He was responsible for the long-range building program for 28 years and worked for 11 different commissioners. Someone said (rightfully so) it was a testament to his patience and resolve!
Bill had an outstanding & supportive staff at GSL. They admired his commitment to education, his leadership style, and enjoyed his humor and jovial laugh. The female staff also enjoyed the roses from his garden during the summer and endowed him with the title BBE (Best Boss Ever)!
Travels with his job provided Bill with the opportunity to play some of the great golf course in the US with special friends. The two most memorable for him were Pebble Beach (his boyhood dream) and Pinehurst #2. Augusta and St. Andrew’s remained on his “bucket list.”
Bill was honored at retirement in 1996 with letters of appreciation from both state and federal officials, as well as his professional friends in education. He returned to his passion – coaching the Fighting Saints Gold Team. Bill was deeply involved with the Helena Golf Community as a board member of Green Meadow CC and bill Roberts Golf courses, played men’s league at both facilities and was instrumental in moving the administrative building of Bill Roberts some 30 years ago. Bill was a member of the USGA, a certified golf judge, a member of the State Golf Association, and a member of the USGA Montana Golf Rating Team. He was also an avid collector of golf memorabilia.
Bill was a man of deep faith and proud to be part of St. Helena Cathedral parish and their RE Board. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 844, and a Boy Scout Leader of Troop 214.
Bill is survived by his wife, Gail; his children: William Jr. (Jean), Bernard (Judy), Brian (Alexis), Barry, and Lara (Jim) Thomas; grandchildren: Abigail, Brendan, Rheti, Ryann, Lindsey, Lauren, Nickolette, Cory & Rick Chavez; sister: Mary Agnes Swarthout (Clarence Jr.); sisters-in-law: Treva & Glenda Lannan; and numerous nephews and nieces. Proceeding him in death were his parents; brothers: James and John Lannan; nephews: John Jr. and Jeffrey; niece: Colleen DiPaulo; and father & mother-in-law: John & Alice Milch.
Join us in celebrating Bill’s exceptional life at his Funeral Mass at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 27th at St. Helena Cathedral, 530 N. Ewing St., Helena. A Luncheon will follow in the Brondel Center. Burial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers memorials in honor of Bill are suggested to Carroll College – Office of Institutional Development, 1601 N. Benton, Helena, MT 59601 or to St. Helena Cathedral, 530 N. Ewing, Helena, Mt 59601 or to a charity of your choice. Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Bill.
Our family would like to express our gratitude to the Touchmark Memory Care staff and St. Peter’s Hospice for their loving and respectful care of Bill during his final days.
“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought, and decision we make. Their love leaves an incredible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.” – Joe Buscaglia