Former Eagle reporter William Simonsen dies

| September 2, 2020 2:30 AM

Former Bigfork Eagle reporter William Roland Simonsen died Aug. 15 in Kalispell. He was 71 years old. Simonsen began his writing career as a reporter for his school newspaper and also published his stories and poetry in national magazines during the 1970s. His career in journalism spanned four decades, including years at the Bigfork Eagle during the 1990s. He covered the tragic death of five snowmobilers in an avalanche on Peters Ridge and the murder trail of Joseph Shadow Clark in 1993 who was convicted of killing a Ferndale couple.

The mother of the victims, Antoinette Bosco, recalled Simonsen fondly for his thorough coverage in a book she wrote following the tragedy.

“One man is very special to me and always will be, Bill Simonsen, the reporter at the Bigfork Eagle, who cared enough for truth … to give his unrelenting attention to the murder case,” Bosco wrote. “While no other media reporters were interested enough in a small town double murder to do any investigative reporting, Bill kept faithfully pursuing the story, constantly in touch with me.”

He went on to work as a correspondent for CBS radio and then wrote for The Missoulian, Great Falls Tribune and the Associated Press, just to name a few. He won enough awards for his work to cover an entire wall in his office and reportedly boxed them all up one day because he was “tired of watching the awards gather dust,” his obituary states.

In his later years, Simonsen spent his time writing political commentary and fiction, according to his obituary. In addition to his long and illustrious career in journalism, Simonsen was an avid hiker, summiting a total of 23 peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation. He also enjoyed skiing, bicycle racing and real estate investing. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and his two children.