Cover photo for William Lee "Willy" Self's Obituary
William Lee "Willy" Self Profile Photo
1959 William 2021

William Lee "Willy" Self

June 25, 1959 — November 10, 2021

Willy “Bill” Self definitely left his mark on this world. He wasn't a financial giant, or a celebrity, unless you ran in fly fishing circles, in which case he was little less than a god. He left his mark in the hearts of those he touched, whether it was through his work, in a drift boat on a river or lake, or in a circle of friends of Bill W. He had a gift of truly seeing into you, which could either warm your heart or piss you off. He always had a shoulder to cry on, a hug for the broken, a place to heal for any wounded or abandoned being, animal or human. He loved with his whole heart, unconditionally, and without reservation.

Willy succumbed to injuries sustained in an automobile accident on March 20 on November 10th, the birthday of his beloved Marine Corps. A fighter to the end, he participated in rehab for over seven months, always trying to make his nurses and therapists smile in spite of the fact that he was unable to move anything but his head and was not able to talk due to the ventilator which kept him breathing. His eyes still rolled, however, and believe me, he rolled them a lot as we tried to figure out what he was trying to say.

Willy was born in Reno, NV June 25, 1959, to Janet Bishop (Jenkin) Self and John Henry Jenkin Jr., a Mountain Maidu native. In 1965 his mother married Edwin Self and the family settled in Quincy, CA. From an early age, Willy was an avid hunter and fisherman. For a time, they lived in the Feather River area and spent many happy days hunting and fishing in the mountains of California. They moved to Bozeman in 1975. Bill, as he was known in childhood, attended Bozeman High School where he participated in wrestling and football and graduated in 1977. Following graduation, he joined the Marine Corps and was eventually deployed on a Navy ship, the Coral Sea, as part of a Marine Detachment. His time in the Marines was one of his most treasured memories. He had a deep and abiding love for "his" veterans and spent countless hours working with Warriors and Quiet Waters, Eagle Mount, and the Bozeman VA to help other vets process and recover from their experiences.

Willy was talented at whatever he turned his hand to and had a varied career in many things including working for Gibson guitar in the early 80’s, retail sales including Ernst, Kenyon Noble, and Montana Troutfitters, building native American flutes and drums, carpentry, and his true love … guiding, teaching and training fly fishing and fly tying.

Willy is survived by his loving wife, Nancy Self; his children, Lacey (Bobby) Hallberg Keech, Noelle Price (Sydney Gaines), Zachary (Criss) Self, Jessie (Ben) Brewster, Jeremy Thomas, Elisha (Josh) Harteis, and Jamie-lee (Chance) Harmon. He is also survived by his father, Ed Self, sister Maureen Self, brother Edwin "Skooter" (Gina) Self, his aunt Carol Self, multiple cousins, and 11 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his mother Janet Bishop Self, father John Jenkin Jr., "Unc" Lee Self, sons William "Dub" Harrison and Tyler Price, and most recently, his newest grandson Jordan Lee Harmon.

There will be a Celebration of his Life on the Solstice at sunset, December 21st at 5PM at the Bozeman United Methodist Church, 121 S. Willson Ave. There will be a chili feed after the service, all are welcome, as Willy would say, there’s always room at the table for one more. Please bring your memories of Willy to share with the family. If possible please write them down so we can all treasure them. You can email them to if you are unable to attend. The family thanks everyone who has supported us through this journey with your prayers, finances, and fellowship. We could not have made it through this year without you.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Lee "Willy" Self, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Starts at 5:00 pm (Mountain (no DST) time)

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