On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, just after 12:00 PM Mountain Time, Jay Waterman passed away suddenly from heart failure on his way to Saint James Hospital in Butte, Montana. His wife and best friend of 45 years, Stacie Lynn Waterman (67), was by his side, taking care of him until the end. Jay’s remains have been cremated, as per his request, and his immediate and extended family have privately celebrated his life.
Jay was born on September 7, 1954 to Edward James Waterman and Carol Fern Waterman in Havre, Montana. He was the third of five children, with older brothers Steve and Ed, and younger identical twin sisters, June and Jill. In 1947, his Grandpa Louie and Uncle Bob purchased a property on Lake Five, near West Glacier, Montana, where Jay spent every summer of his life. He adored his Grandparents, Louis (Grandpa Louie) and Bernice Anderson, and Lake Five would become his favorite place in the world. He attended Havre Schools as an exceptional student and athlete. He continued his education at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, where he studied Chemical Engineering . He graduated with a BS and MS in Chemical Engineering, in 1976 and 1979, respectively. A Bobcat, forever.
While at Montana State, he met his wife and life partner, Stacie. They were married on June 26, 1976. Jay and Stacie experimented with big-city life for a brief period in San Francisco, California, where Jay designed artificial organs for human medical use. Their desire to start a family, however, brought them back to Montana, near both of their families. Jay started a long, incredibly well respected, and productive career at Montana Power Company (MPC), later Northwestern Energy (NWE), in 1979. They spent some time in Cut Bank, Montana, where Jay worked as a field engineer to build and manage a gas transmission plant (1981-1983). While in Cut Bank Jay and Stacie welcomed their first son, Kelly Andrew Waterman (April 1982), and their first dog, a Cocker Spaniel named Jake. In 1983 the young family moved to Butte and settled into their life-long home, and Jay continued working for the Montana Power Company as a Senior Engineer in the gas department. The couple would have three more children; son, Casey Jay Waterman (July 1984), son, Ryan Lewis Waterman (July 1987), and daughter, Kathryn (Katie) Arden Waterman (1989). Jay loved nothing more than nurturing and mentoring his wife and family and was always passionately involved in every aspect of their lives. He loved coaching youth sports, which he studied meticulously, and was involved in the academic development and extra-curricular activities of each of his children. He loved bringing his family to Lake Five every summer to visit their grandmother, Carol, just as he had visited his grandparents when he was a child. At Lake Five, he shared his passion for hiking, nature, outdoor recreation, and hard work with his family. It was important to him that the family learned to care for and appreciate the Lake Five property proportionally to the amazing privilege it offered to their life experience. He loved teaching his kids landscaping, carpentry, home maintenance, financial management, and other critical life skills. Together the family enjoyed watersports, boating, fishing, and recreating in Glacier Park. Upon Carol’s passing Jay became the owner and primary caretaker of Lake Five, and he and Stacie transitioned to residing there full time during the summer. Jay enjoyed making improvements, hosting his family and friends, and teaching both kids and dogs to jump off the docks he had built to swim and chase sticks.
He worked at the Utility (MPC/NWE) until 2004 (25 years), finally pseudo-retiring as the Director of Gas Transmission and Storage. Additionally, he started his own Engineering and Energy company, Waterman Energy, Inc., in 2004, and was a registered Professional Engineer in multiple states for over 40 years. Jay immensely enjoyed partnering with his friends and Utility Company alumni to contribute to the growth and prosperity of multiple entrepreneurial small businesses. He was associated with Jetco, Jetco Midstream, and KWR, a company he helped his eldest son, Kelly, launch in 2017. He spent the last few years transitioning from his full-time career to his retirement, which included participating as Managing Member of KWR. Jay never really “retired” and continued to provide tremendous professional value to clients and associates in energy, gas and oil, and professional services through September of 2021.
Jay was brilliant, charismatic, creative, athletic, funny, and supremely talented in so many ways. Despite his brilliance, he was humble, kind, and extremely generous with his time, wisdom, and other resources. On top of the continuous mentorship, support, and friendship he provided to so many people, he quietly donated to many causes in need, usually giving credit on behalf of other people he had admired. He thought of his family first in every decision that he made. He made it a priority to teach his family the importance of education, work ethic, financial management, and caring for one another. He developed an extended family of close friends and business associates to whom he provided immeasurable support, guidance, and opportunity. He was passionate about the creation of “value” in every endeavor and relationship that he nurtured, professionally and personally. He strove to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships, which he often referred to as “win-win”. He conducted himself with grace and integrity in every interaction, and he lived his life “taking the high road”. Jay has left an incredible legacy in the contributions he has made to so many of those around him. The value in his teachings and generosity will continue to make his “circle of influence” within this world a better place.
Jay was so grateful for, and proud of, his family and close friends. He also enjoyed being a grandfather to three grandchildren, whom he visited in Spokane, Washington (Blake Kelly and Lily Jay Waterman) and Billings, Montana (Vivi Arden Bury) as often as he could. He spent the last many years conceptualizing, designing, and constructing a new outdoor deck and living space at Lake Five, which he completed with the help of his children (and their spouses) and close family friends in August of 2021. He continued to learn new things and grow as a person, student, friend, and provider every day.
Jay was preceded in death by: Edward James Waterman (Father), Carol Fern Waterman (Mother), Steve Grant Waterman (Brother), Jake (Cocker Spaniel), Hank (Cocker Spaniel), Jackson (Border Collie Mix).
Jay is survived by: Stacie Lynn Waterman (Wife), Kelly Andrew Waterman (Son), Casey Jay Waterman (Son), Ryan Lewis Waterman (Son), Kathryn Arden Waterman (Daughter), Ed Waterman (Brother), June Snipes (Sister), Jill Johannesen (Sister), Micah Ann Romero Waterman (Daughter-in-Law), Louis Zachary Bury (Son-in-Law), Blake Kelly Waterman (Grandson), Lily Jay Waterman (Granddaughter), Vivi Arden Bury (Granddaughter), Jack Ward Bolme (Father-in-Law), Arden Rae Bolme (Mother-in-Law), Joni Bolme (Sister-in Law), Michael Bolme (Brother-in-Law), Danita Brooks (Sister-in-Law), Charlie (American Pit Bull Mix), Luna (Belgian Malinois), Dave (Corgi), Phil (Corgi).
Jay’s family would like to give special thanks to the following people for supporting Jay and his family through his life, during his passing, and moving forward: Tod and Shawna Chapman and family, Kristen Manson and family, Axelson Funeral & Cremation Services, and Saint James Hospital. Memorials may be sent to a charity of the donor’s choice in Jay’s name. Jay’s family will spread his ashes at Lake Five, along with his beloved family members (including dogs) that preceded him in death.
Jays Favorite Movie Quote, from the Cinematic Masterpiece “Caddy Shack:”
“……So we finish 18, and he’s going to stiff me, and I say, ‘Hey, Lama… Hey.. how about a little something, you know… for the effort.. you know..?” He said, “Oh, there won’t be any money… but when you die… on your death bed… you will receive total consciousness. So I got THAT going for me… which is nice.”
Jay, you had all THAT going for you. Which is nice.
We LOVE you.
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Axelson Funeral and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for John and his family.