MISSOULA — Wayne Arthur Hedman, 80, passed away peacefully in the early hours of Monday, Dec. 2, at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in August 2018, he enjoyed a year of apparent remission until the disease returned unexpectedly, and with a quick vengeance.
Wayne was born in Whitefish on Jan. 25, 1939. As the sixth of seven children, his youth and early adult years were spent in happy if austere conditions. He enjoyed the outdoors and horses, music and sports. He worked summers and post-high school years as a log sawyer and on the railroad. He graduated from Whitefish High School in 1957.
In pursuit of less physically-trying work, he enrolled in the Pharmacy School at the University of Montana, and graduated in 1965.
Wayne married Helen Louise Lewis in 1961. They had a son, Nathan Lane in 1962, and a daughter, Whitney Claire in 1969.
After graduation from the University, he worked for four years at Ross Rexall Drug in Sandpoint, Idaho. Wayne and Helen came to Hamilton in 1969, where they purchased Bob Hall’s Bitter Root Drug. Through much work, foresight and determination, he brought a neglected, sleepy business to life, and created a thriving Main Street anchor business. He had a wonderful group of employees which were like family. Wayne loved people, and made his customers feel welcome from the moment they entered the front door, greeting them in his booming voice, and inviting them to sit for a cup of joe. His ability to remember names and faces was amazing. His handshakes and hugs were distributed liberally.
A key component to Wayne’s community involvement was his inexhaustible enthusiasm for volunteerism. He was active in numerous organizations — the Lion’s Club, Elks’ Club, Chamber of Commerce, Trapper Creek Job Corps, Resource Advisory Council, Montana Forest Restoration Committee, Bitter Root Land Trust, Bitter Root Historical Society/Museum, and countless others. He enjoyed the outreach process, and encouraged others to follow suit. He believed it was his responsibility to the town where he made a living.
As much as Wayne adored people and the public eye, he found his peace in the woods, on the riverbanks, atop mountains, and with his menagerie of furry family members. He was a lover of all animals, wild and domestic, and surely had quite a welcoming committee to greet him at the Rainbow Bridge.
Wayne was preceded in death by his parents, Vernon and Edena Hedman, a sister, Barbara, and older brother, Cleave. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Helen Louise, son, Nathan (of Spokane, Washington), and daughter, Whitney (of Hamilton and New York City). He is also survived by siblings, D. Eugene, of Whitefish, Allan, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, sisters Carol and Joyce, of Whitefish. He has a large and loving network of extended family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
The family would like to extend thanks and appreciation to the numerous friends who have supported him during his illness, and the compassionate caregivers at St. Patrick Hospital ICU and fifth floor. We will be forever grateful for your generosity of time and spirit.
There will be a Celebration of Life in the spring. Please consider donations in his honor to the Bitter Root Historical Society, Fox Hollow Animal Project, or to the philanthropy of your choice