John Wesley Rider

July 25, 1935 — Dec. 2, 2015
John Wesley Rider, 80, of Bozeman, passed away Dec. 2, 2015, at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Big Timber Evangelical Church.

John was born July 25, 1935, son to Lester P. Rider and Erma M. Rider. 

As the son of a career officer in the Army, John grew up all over the world. His family was stationed in Germany after WWII. John became fluent in German and had many fond memories of living there. In high school he loved participating in sports, such as basketball and football. He graduated from the American high school in Hokkaido, Japan.

John went on to attend the University of Montana and studied history and German in addition to participating in ROTC. He worked as a fire lookout in the Little Belt Mountains in the summers during college. This is where he learned to love the Montana landscape. John graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army after finishing ROTC. 

John met Linda Olness, and they were married not long after while he was in the Army. The Army Signal Corp took them to Germany twice, Texas, Georgia, Turkey, Arizona, New Jersey and Taiwan. John also is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He and Linda divorced in 1979. He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel.

After retiring from the Army, John received a master’s degree in history at the University of Arizona. He taught classes at the University of Texas - El Paso and spent time overseas again in Saudi Arabia training Saudi military troops. He enjoyed sharing his love of history. 

He eventually ended up back in Montana. John loved Montana. He loved to travel the back roads and take pictures of wildlife and scenery. He enjoyed volunteering at the Native American Center and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. 

John also loved sports. He could often be seen in Big Timber and Bozeman cheering on his grandsons playing basketball, football or throwing in track. He also spent a lot of time cheering on his team — the Grizzlies.

John was preceded in death by his parents Lester and Erma Rider.

He is survived by his sister Charlene (Larry) MacDonald, of Clinton, Tennessee; his daughter Jennifer (Karl) Wessel, of Bozeman; his son Kirk (Lynn) Rider, of Charlotte, North Carolina; four grandchildren, Kayla (Blake) Maxwell, Carl Rider, Chance Wessel and Cade Wessel; two nephews, Scott MacDonald, Mike MacDonald; and a niece, Beth Ann Laugherty.

An informal memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Dec. 19 at Big Timber Evangelical Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the place where John felt the most sense of community — The Big Timber Hospitality House Senior Center, PO Box 298, Big Timber, MT, 59011.

All condolences can be sent to 5200 Bostwick Road, Bozeman, MT, 59715.

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