Cover photo for David Wessel's Obituary
David Wessel Profile Photo
1922 David 2009

David Wessel

January 2, 1922 — August 2, 2009

David Wessel, our #8220;Man of the Mountains,#8221; adventurer, artist and architect took his last breath on August 2, 2009. The fifth and youngest child born to Mary Ella Sly and Louis Wessel in Bozeman on January 2, 1922, he was educated in Bozeman schools, and a member of the first graduating class of the newly constructed Gallatin County High School (designed by Fred Willson) in 1939. He desired to become an artist, but growing up during the depression years his mother (a Unity minister) wished him to enter the ministry. Instead, he became an architect. He graduated from Montana State College in architecture in 1943 and joined the war effort with Boeing in Seattle. Following the war he returned as a professor to the MSC architecture department, which was expanding to accommodate returning WWII veterans under the GI bill. He built a 30 year career punctuated by receiving a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Washington. He apprenticed as an architect with Fred Willson and later enjoyed working with Chet Huntley in designing his Big Sky home in the 1970#8217;s, as well as designing the Main Lodge at the Lone Mountain Guest Ranch at Big Sky and other outdoor inspired homes for clients, who throughout the process often became good friends. His greatest love was to be in the mountains with a dog at his side. His mountain journals record hundreds of thousands of vertical feet climbed over a lifetime. He made numerous first ascents of peaks in Canada with famous expeditions and was proud of his over 60 year membership with the Canadian Alpine Club, where he received training in ice, rock, and snow skiing and climbing. In the early years he forged a winter ascent/north bowl descent of Lone Mountain using war time ski gear and traversed the Bridger Range alone from Flathead Pass along the highest points of the ridge, descending to the M, and then hiking back into town, with the goal of accomplishing the trek in 24 hours. In 1970 he married Margaretha who was completing her Ph.D and together they enthusiastically embraced the mountain lifestyle of weekly trips to ski, backpack, hike, and canoe with cadres of friends, including the beloved Chowder and Marching Society. They generously included anyone who wished to achieve a mountain summit or dip a paddle in clear waters, always accompanied by witty quips, serious conversation, and heartfelt laughter. Dave meticulously catalogued his adventures with over 200,000 slides before moving into the digital age. During his legendary slide shows he recited numerous geographical facts from memory at such length he put more than one child to sleep. He and Margaretha climbed famous peaks the world over from Mount Orizaba in Mexico to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, as well as summiting the highest peaks in 12 western states. In the last ten years after Margaretha#8217;s stroke following complications from a ski accident, he dedicated himself to her rehabilitation and they continued sharing travels to Alaska, Greece, Costa Rica, Norway, Egypt and the European alpine countries. His artwork found its way into the yearly Christmas cards (which generally arrived somewhere between January and March) and which were highly anticipated by friends and family as they chronicled their adventures in oils, watercolor, or pen and ink drawings. For over 50 years he was a member of the Noon Rotary Club, which he attended weekly until the last year of his life. His family celebrates the last week of his life which was filled with enjoyable laughter, many stories, good friends and much love. They wish to expressly thank Dr. Adams and Dr. Ritter for compassionate medical care as well as the supportive staff at Mountain View Rehab center who could not have been more positive and caring. David leaves behind many stories and memories with his friends and family including wife Margaretha, sister Ella May Scribner of Boise Idaho, daughter Victoria (Ed) Fox and grandchildren Candace, Peter and Jason of Corvallis, OR, son Clarence (Sheila) Cain of San Francisco, CA, son Jerry (Cindy) Cain and grandsons Cameron and Chandler of Chanhassen, MN, and his next door neighbors for the last 15 years, his daughter Mitzi Magdalena (David) Bowen and grandchildren Bradley David (fianc Melissa Mehlhorn) and Megan Elena. After his travels around the world, he still considered Bozeman to be the truest gem as a place to live. He created a living landscape at his home where each day he could see and hear the valley#8217;s waters and gaze upward to the highest peaks. We believe he is now #8220;out climbing#8221; another mountain. His ashes will be spread from Mount Baldy in the Bridger Mountains. Friends are invited to a celebration located on the back acreage at his home at 544 East Kagy on Friday, August 7, at 11 am and to enjoy a toast with a glass of sherry and a sweet morsel of Teresa#8217;s cake to a #8220;Life Well Lived.#8221;

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