RIP Bill


A telephone call to 9-1-1 prompted Kalispell law enforcement to knock on Bill Epperly’s pickup side window maybe expecting to encounter a stalker or some other type of criminal activity.

What they discovered was Bill, doing what he mostly did throughout his life – watching, listening, coaching or teaching some kind of sports.

Legend husband, father, mentor and lifetime coach Epperly died Thursday.

On that long-ago evening Bill was listening to my description of daughter Julie’s game at the only place he could faintly hear the KGVO signal succinctly situated in a particular Kalispell driveway.

Thus the arrival of law enforcement but after a short interruption authorities departed and the game’s description continued.

During Julie’s point-guard days from 1988 to 91, Robin Selvig’s charge was a-rollin losing but 15 games and appearing in four NCAA tournament games after as usual winning the Big Sky Conference.

A two-time all-league performer at the University of Montana after a stellar career at Flathead Hi, Julie completed her collegiate career third in assists, in the top ten in three-point percentage, in the top 20 in scoring and 11th in steals while being names UM’s top defender her senior season.

Like the remainder of Bill and Kay’s children, after obtaining an education BA she initially went in to coaching and teaching.

Bill and Kay’s children (Jeff, Jim, Julie and Joanie) and grandchildren probably have no choice but to follow the sometimes subtle but always “Epps” influence to teach.

Bill told me that radio story long ago but in the 30-plus years hence he shared many words of sports and coaching wisdom as recently as last season as he explained the type of player his grandchildren show promise to become.

For example Grandson Evan, Jim’s son, is a UM junior defensive back.

Bill Epperly’s list of accolades runs deep from claiming a pair of AA Boys basketball titles and two runner-ups to Coach of the Year and Montana Basketball Hall of Fame to the recent pinnacle of his profession, the National Basketball Coach’s Hall of Fame.

But more than all the accolades, Bill was my friend who never failed to share a moment or two or maybe if I was lucky more as we talked of our love of sports but more specifically bucket ball

The last time we chatted at length between games in Ronan last winter, he beamed in talking about his coaching run that was drawing to a close with his retirement after 46 years of high school track in Kalispell.

Greatly missed the imprint his death leaves will not soon diminish.

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