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BUTTE - Earl James Wilcox, 96, formerly of 7 Fairway Drive, passed away Monday morning, July 14, 2003, at his daughter's home. He was born in Bozeman on Nov. 11, 1906, to George and Edna Mae (Wood) Wilcox. In his 96 years, he saw technology progress from the horse and buggy to the space age.

He was raised in the Madison Valley and attended school in Three Forks. He worked in Chicago in a candy factory, modeled hats, was a cook and a butcher. He worked on the Wrigley Building in Chicago as a hod carrier. He joined the U.S. Army during World War I, but was discharged because he was underage. He worked on ranches in and around Bozeman. He also ran bootleg whiskey.

He married Florence "Sis" Torgrimson of Three Forks on Oct. 11, 1929.

He then worked in the coal mines in Thermopolis, Wyo., and worked heavy construction in every part of Montana. His early work on construction began with a horse-drawn plow, made $6 a day and had to feed the horse. His work continued with Kiely Construction in Butte, Washington Construction in Missoula, and owned Union Construction in Missoula and C & F Construction in Stevensville and a pole plant.

He joined the International Union of Operating Engineers, May 6, 1938. In the 1940s, he served as business agent and served in several other positions. He had 50 years service in 1988, 60 years in 1998 and 65 years this year. He was the oldest living member in Montana.

He and Sis lived in Butte, Missoula and Stevensville, moving back to Butte in 1978.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years; his son, Earl E. Wilcox; his parents; his brother, Ralph Wilcox; sister, Edna Helton; sons-in-law, Harold "Pete" Peterson and Shaw E.J. Weaver.

He spent his last years living in Butte with his daughter Alice Peterson, and in Billings, with his daughter Donna Weaver, who both survive. He is also survived by his brother, George Wilcox; nine grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

Cremation has taken place and his cremated remains will be buried next to his wife and son in the Three Forks Cemetery. No services are planned. Memorials may be made to the Butte Silver Bow Library, 226 W. Broadway, Butte, for audio books on tape.

"You were a great influence on all our lives. Thank you."

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