An honest man died last Thursday. Wallace E. Streeter passed on at St. Vincent's Hospital early on June 5. He was born in Aberdeen, S.D., on Sept. 18, 1918, the only child of Pearl and Delbert Streeter. His parents and uncle started Streeter Brothers in 1922, one of the longest lasting businesses in Billings.
Wally went to work for his parents at a young age, selling his first home at the age of 14. At 95 years old, his remarkable memory could recall every property he ever sold, along with the year and sales price. His stories about growing up in Billings were spellbinding since he could recall all the events, dates and politics around each situation. When the Northern Hotel burned down in 1940, Streeter Brothers was located across the street. Out of town friends were staying at the hotel and Wally ran into the burning building to rescue their suitcases, also saving several valuable paintings that were hanging in the lobby. Since his mother was a professional woman and didn't cook, most of his meals growing up were at the Northern Hotel.
Wally was an excellent athlete and played baseball, ran track and was on the football team at Billings Senior High. His love of sports lasted his lifetime. Girls basketball, baseball, swimming and golf were his favorites. Since golf didn't provide enough exercise for him, for many years he ran the course barefoot at Yellowstone Country Club, carrying his clubs and doing 50 pushups on each green. A regular at the YMCA for 60 years, he swam so many miles that his face developed breathing creases on the right side. And he was a regular at Cobb Field, attending all the Mustang home games every season.
On the dance floor, Wally was extraordinary. He knew how to lead, swirling and spinning his partner with a firm touch, never missing a beat of the music. Waltzes, swing dances, polka, he could do it all with style and flair. Anything Wally set out to do, he did well.
During WWII, Wally enlisted in the Navy. It was his first chance to see the world and started a lifetime love of travel. Several times when he was on tours in foreign lands, he got separated from his group while wandering and talking to local people and would have to catch up with the tour group the following day. Wally especially enjoyed the around the world trip he took his father on when his dad was in his early 90's. Wally and his father were a beloved sight together in Billings. Wally loved his Volkswagen convertible and would only put the top up when it rained. Which meant all winter long we got to see Wally and Delbert, bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves, driving around in the snow with the top down. He was the best son ever, taking such good care of his father until his death.
Although his 75 year business partnership with Lou Hall was dissolved a few years ago, Wally still drove to the office most days and continued to handle all his personal financial affairs. He was a wonderful landlord, believing that if you had a good renter, you don't raise the rents. Wally was an excellent example of how to treat your fellow man and was proud that he hadn't ever been sued.
Wally was always available if a friend needed a hand building a corral, figuring out a problem or helping someone with their golf swing. He loved going on road trips with his best friend Raymond Corcoran. He had a keen, quick wit, a compassionate heart and a deep love of life.
Wally loved his wife Caryle very much. They were so perfect together, enjoying their 15 special years of marriage. She was his "Babydoll" and his eyes lit up when she entered the room. He was very proud of his son Ted Streeter, his wife Beth, grandson Adam Streeter and granddaughter Emily Streeter. His only daughter, Marilyn O'Neil, died two years ago. She was the wife of Dr. John O'Neil and mother of two daughters Sara O'Neil and Lisa Holt-O'Neil, and grandmother of Emily Holt and Streeter Holt.
Wally Streeter left behind many people who loved him, recognizing him as a truly unique character that made a strong mark on Billings, Mont. Wally's footprints are all over our town and our community is a better place because of him.
Internment will be at the Beth Aaron Cemetery at 17th and Wyoming on Tuesday, June 10, at 2 p.m. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. Please honor him with a contribution to the charity of your choice.