Wesley “Wes” Stillwell, 68
Wesley “Wes” Stillwell, 68, of Williston, North Dakota, passed peacefully at his home on Tuesday morning, October 5, 2021 after a disheartening battle with Parkinson’s disease.
In keeping with Wes’s wishes, cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, October 15, 2021 at Emmanuel Free Church in Williston. Rev. Jon Wellumson will officiate. Interment in Hillside Memory Gardens will take place that afternoon.
Friends are welcome to view pictures and sign a guest book at Everson-Coughlin Funeral Home on Thursday, October 14, from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM. A family service, open to the public, will be held at Emmanuel Free Church at 6:30 PM on Thursday evening.
Wesley Alan Stillwell, 68, passed away peacefully at home on Oct. 5, 2021, following a disheartening battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. In spite of a gradual physical decline over the years, during the last 6 months he was blessed to have regained a mental state we thought he had lost for good. After months of experimenting with alternative treatments, we got to watch him come back to reality. He kept up with his daily exercises, his relaxing evenings watching TV, and his mornings surfing the internet. Of course one of the first interests he regained was in the stock market, which had completely changed over the last year with bitcoin and meme stocks being a major focus, and he wanted his boys to get him caught up on what he had missed out on.
Wes was born on June 6, 1953, in Williston, ND, 1 of 4 children to Lester and Kathryn (Smedsrud) Stillwell. He received his education in Williston, graduating from Williston High School in 1971. He received his Associate’s degree from UND Williston, and went on to get his Bachelor of Science in Accounting at UND Grand Forks. Growing up, he was involved in Boy Scouts and he spent many hours following his brother Kent around. They had quite the reputation of being a couple of little pranksters, nothing too serious and always done in the sense of getting a laugh. He discovered a few interests and hobbies at a very young age that would stick with him throughout his life such as canoeing, camping, riding motorcycles, and bird hunting.
He started his long career in accounting at the early age of 15. He worked at his dad’s accounting firm where he discovered his proficiency in spreadsheets and using a 10-key. He immediately started saving money, with the goal of buying his first of many motorcycles. He worked for his dad off and on throughout his high school and college years until he became a CPA and a partner with his dad in the accounting firm. Over the next 30 years, he was a partner in several different Williston accounting firms as well as a partner of LPL Financial Services. After a brief attempt at retirement in 2007, he decided the opportunity of the oil boom was too exciting to pass up. He went back to work, this time as a Landman and mapmaker at Empire Oil, where his daughter joined him for a few years. He worked several more years, thoroughly enjoying his many newfound challenges. No matter where he worked, he always admired and appreciated those he worked with. Many of his coworkers and faithful clients throughout the years truly became lifelong friends.
On June 14, 1981, Wes married Patty (Johnson). With their strong common interests in music and camping, they began their adventure of life together. Patty quickly found out what she was in store for when their honeymoon included the banjo, guitar, and fiddle in tow, making sure not to miss their first of many bluegrass festivals as a married couple. Over the next few years, their summers were filled with camping trips and their weekends were filled with music. Wes played in local country/rock bands, namely Black Diamond Band and Painted Woods Creek Band, along with many other short term gigs with local musicians, all of whom he had the greatest respect for. He never got tired of playing because he wanted to learn how to play every instrument. He started with guitar, then quickly picked up the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and steel guitar. Later in life, he also spent about a year playing the penny whistle, although no one outside his home ever heard him play that or the piano, which was actually the very first instrument he learned to play. His love for playing music never wavered, but playing in bands quickly became a thing of the past once their family started to grow.
Danny was born in 1984, Ricky in 1986, and Becky (whom he affectionately called Boo Boo) in 1989. Life seemed to change overnight once the children came along. His new goal in life was giving his kids everything he possibly could, all the while teaching them that working hard for the things you want is the most rewarding feeling there is. In other words, he wanted to spoil them without spoiling them. No doubt, his biggest satisfaction in life was seeing each of his kids thoroughly embrace and carry on the same hobbies he had enjoyed all of his life. He easily transitioned from a life of jamming in bands to a life of teaching his kids music. Danny, Ricky, and Becky all picked up instruments at a young age and still enjoy playing today.
Pheasant season was always a good time for Wes and the family. For opening weekend, Becky would make home-made cookies, and they would all head out for a day of hunting. He always took pride in training his dogs and found great joy watching them get on a bird and hold a point. Even today, Danny and Ricky both own and train their beloved Brittany’s, just like their dad. Wes’s love of the outdoors has definitely been instilled into his kids and grandkids, whether it be hunting, fishing, camping in the North Dakota badlands, or simply playing at the park.
Then there were motorcycles. He went through many phases of riding from his early days of dirt bike racing and hill climbing to buying the boys their first minibike, which seeded another lifelong hobby they still enjoy today. After years of deliberation, he finally treated himself and got a Harley Davidson, his most recent one being a Road King Classic. He never embraced the biker lifestyle, he just loved the feeling of getting on his bike and going for a ride, especially when he could talk someone into hopping on the back.
Although he was very passionate about every hobby he had, nothing gave him more joy and fulfillment than his family. Every year he invested a lot of time into planning the most memorable summer vacations. He took his family all over the country, and for several years, a ski trip to Montana was a big highlight. Early memories include watching Jeopardy at the supper table, doing daily crossword puzzles together, and spending Sunday afternoons enjoying his homemade milkshakes while watching motocross races on TV (while the rest of the country watched football). Even after the kids grew up and were on their own, he still enjoyed planning family vacations. After renting a cabin and pontoon in Minnesota for a week of fishing, it became the new summer tradition for many years.
Just when they thought life couldn’t get any better, they were blessed with grandkids. Nothing gave Wes a bigger smile on his face than watching those little ones grow. He was very fortunate to be able to keep up with them on a regular basis. He was often involved in some of their biggest milestones, including being the first one to treat them to ice cream! He got to witness both Grace and Clara learning to ride their bicycles without training wheels. His love of motorcycles even made its way down to Carter who is always driving his toy motorcycles around the house. Hazen, at a year and a half old, already loves camping in their pop up camper, her first time being when she was only two months old.
Although Wes was not very outspoken with his faith, he lived a life for the Lord and raised his family to know the importance of having a relationship with Christ. Wes was a member of the Emmanuel Free Lutheran Church in Williston, where he and Patty formed lifelong friendships.
Wes is survived by his wife of 40 years, Patty; sons, Daniel (Ann) of Moorhead, MN and their daughter Hazen; Rick of Williston; daughter Rebecca (Taylor) Oxendahl and their children, Grace, Clara, and Carter of Williston. Brothers, Kent (Arlene) of Bismarck, and Kevin (Laurie) of Ft. Worth, TX, sister Sheryl (Perry) Hardy of Mandan; nieces & nephews, Angie, Jeff (Jackee), Brad and Theresa; and several cousins, aunts, and uncles.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Les & Kay Stillwell; and grandson Gunnar Oxendahl.
Friends may visit www.eversoncoughlin.com to share remembrances of “Wes” or leave condolences for his family.
The Everson Coughlin Funeral Home of Williston is caring for the family.