On June 27, Bert Balvin, one of the most gracious gentlemen in the world, departed this earth to join his wife Nita in the great beyond. Daughters Nancy Huff and Kathy Schiler, and their families, remain earthbound to carry on his legacy.
He was born Albert Ward Balvin on Feb. 12, 1923, in Denver, Colorado. As a young man, he acquired an interest in motorcycles and enjoyed many hours on his Harley. He fueled that interest again at age 80 when he purchased his second bike.
During WWII Bert joined the Army 10th Mountain Division as a ski instructor. He taught winter survival skills in preparation for deployments to mountainous areas, assuming he would serve in Europe. Instead, he was sent to the jungles of the Soloman and Philippine Islands. While serving in action, Bert was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart, as well as battle field commissions. He was honorably discharged as 1st Lieutenant.
Bert did not enjoy the hot, humid tropics. Shortly after returning home, he traveled as far north as he could go, to work at Point Barrow in Alaska. He loved the cheerful native people and made lifelong friends during his 32 years in Alaska.
Bert graduated with an Engineering Geology degree from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. While attending the University, Bert met a plucky young woman from Ft. Yukon, named Nita Carter. They married in 1949 and embarked on an adventure that spanned the next 55 years until Nita’s death in 2004.
Upon retiring from the position of interior region geologist for the Alaska Department of Transportation in 1978, Bert and Nita moved to Hamilton, Montana. They found a beautiful piece of property on Old Darby Road and built a house overlooking the Bitterroot River and the mountains beyond. Often, while sharing the magnificent view, Bert washed away the cares of the world by commenting, “All is peaceful on Old Darby Road.”
In retirement, Bert found time to nourish his natural talent in art and developed friendships with many wonderful artists and neighbors in the Bitterroot Valley. He dabbled in art mediums ranging from carving marble to oil, pastel and water color painting, pencil drawings and sculpting in clay. If you were fortunate enough to be on his mailing list, you would get a Christmas card reproducing one of Bert’s original drawings. Many of his cards depicted the native way of life of the Eskimos and Indians of Alaska and remain cherished in far flung households.
Widely accomplished, Bert’s quiet, peaceful demeanor disguised a delightful sense of humor. When he told stories of his life, his listeners erupted in laughter. He quoted poetry from memory, surrounded himself with music. He loved animals, ballet, football, and figure skating and used his computer to stay well informed about the world.
A true blue friend, Bert lived a life of honesty, integrity, loyalty, compassion, and respect for all living beings. Even a visiting African gray parrot, who detested men, loved Bert. Pepper shimmied up the side of the recliner to sit on Bert’s lap.
Bye Bert. You are dearly missed, but more importantly, dearly remembered.