Saturday, December 03, 2022

Bigfork Eagle founder William “Bill” Cenis dies

Bigfork Eagle | November 23, 2022 12:00 AM

A founder of the Bigfork Eagle, William “Bill” Cenis died in Helena on Nov. 10. He was 82 years old.

Born and raised in Spokane, Cenis started his career at the Spokane Valley Press as an ad salesman, according to his obituary. He went on to be a director for a chain of seven retail stores owned by Drug Fair Northwest in Kalispell, which led to his family moving to Montana. His wife Patricia worked for an accountant, Dale Jay Singer, who would later become Cenis’s business partner in creating the Bigfork Eagle.

The first Bigfork Eagle hit newsstands Dec. 15, 1976. Back then, the local weekly didn’t have a name other than “Bigfork Newspaper,” so Singer held a contest to determine a proper name for the periodical and offered a $25 prize. Five judges, including Singer and Patricia Cenis — who was a staff writer at the time — chose “Bigfork Eagle.”

After his time at the Eagle, Cenis went on to start the Mountain Standard Times. He eventually got back to his love of journalism, leaving the ad world to be editor of the Clark Fork Valley Press in Plains. He also published a national fishing newsletter with his son, Torrey, called “Streamlines.”

He went on to publish three newspapers from the Red Lodge area, including Carbon County News, Stillwater County News and Big Horn County News. Cenis retired in 2007 and had been focusing on family history, primarily centered on his family of immigrant coal mine workers. That research culminated in him writing the book “From Belgium to Bearcreek.”