Sam Clinton Wilson, a third-generation Gallatin Valley resident, passed away September 17, 2021. He was born on September 10, 1942, to Clinton Wilson and Hazel (Huffine) Wilson. Sam was the first of three children. He was the grandson of Sam and Josie Wilson who homesteaded the Buffalo Horn Ranch in 1899, which later became the 320 Ranch. Sam grew up in Baker, Montana, and in Bozeman. He graduated from Bozeman Senior High School in 1960. After high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in the early stages of the Vietnam War as a crew man on a helicopter from 1960 to 1964. He then returned to Bozeman and graduated from Montana State University.
Sam became a probation and parole officer in 1968 and moved to Miles City with his wife Karen McNeil. They divorced in the early ’70s and Sam moved back to Bozeman. He then started working at the Beaver Pond outdoor store. In 1974, when Big Sky Ski Resort opened, Sam worked at Lone Mountain Sports until 1980. Then he moved back to Bozeman and married Gretchen Gannet and they had a son, Clinton Wilson. Sam and Frank Coyle started Baldy Mountain Sports which they ran during the ’80s. Sam and Gretchen divorced in 1988. Sam spent his summers in the ’80s commercial fishing in Alaska.
Sam was always an avid skier from his early Bridger Bowl days to Big Sky. He worked at Lone Mountain Sports again in the early ’90s and then worked for Big Sky Ski Patrol as a “Traffic Cop.”
He was a member of the American Legion Post 99.
Sam will always be remembered for his passion for skiing, PBR, and Old Crow.
Preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Jack Wilson, Sam is survived by his son, Clinton Wilson of Seattle, his sister, Pam (Wilson) Jaehnig of Portland. Sam leaves behind many friends who loved him and that have great stories and many memories of him. Memorials can be made to Big Sky Ski Education Foundation, PO Box 160134, Big Sky, Montana, 59716.
A celebration of Sam’s Life will be held Thursday, September 30, at 3 p.m. at The Riverhouse in Big Sky.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.