Obituary: Walter S. Ainsworth

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 16:39:10-04

Walter S. Ainsworth, 93, of Big Sky, Montana passed away peacefully on June 27, 2021, in his residence. Born in 1928 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, Walter spent his childhood in Watertown and the Thousand Islands area of upstate New York. He attended Cornell University, graduating in 1950 with a BA degree. He was on the ski team in both high school and college, where he met his wife, Catherine Denton while competing at the St. Lawrence University Winter Carnival. They were married on December 27, 1951.

Walter was proud of his four years of service in the Army Artillery Division, serving in Korea during the War. He was commissioned as an officer at Fort Sill Military Base, Oklahoma and is a recipient of the Bronze Star.

Upon his return from Korea, he began his career with Phelps Dodge Magnet Wire. Walter and Cathy eventually landed in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in the early 1960s, where they resided for 30 years and raised their family. He rapidly advanced thru the management ranks of the company, eventually retiring in 1991 as the Chairman/CEO of the company.

He also turned his passion for skiing and racing to teaching others how to ski throughout his working career. In addition to becoming a certified ski instructor, he served as president of the Central Division Ski Instructor Association. Yearly treks to Boyne Mountain, Michigan, led him to a causal friendship with Everett Kircher and Chuck Moll, who encouraged Walter and Cathy to check out Big Sky, Montana. They fell in love with the area and purchased their initial property in 1978.

They permanently retired to Big Sky in 1993, where Walter utilized his acumen as a businessman to become involved in activities and events in the community. He sat on the board responsible for the funding and building of the Big Sky Chapel, which since 1999 has served the community with interfaith services and other functions. He also served on the Big Sky resort tax board. Seeing opportunities in the Big Sky area, he worked with various partners to acquire and develop real estate in the Big Sky area.

Over the years, Walter’s children and grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed vacations at their home on Little Coyote Road. The house also became a gathering place for visiting friends near and far. Walter never knew a stranger.

Besides skiing, Walter was also an avid golfer, sailor, and bird hunter.

Walter was preceded in death by his wife, Catherine, in 2011.

He is survived by his three children, Walter D. Ainsworth (Connie) of Canyon Ferry, MT, Anne A. Holtz (Bob) of Springfield, OH, and Elizabeth A. French-Biggerstaff (Bob) of Big Sky, MT; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

A Memorial Service will be held at the Big Sky Chapel on Little Coyote Rd. on Wednesday, August 4, beginning at 11:30 A.M.

Donations in Walter’s name can be made to the Gallatin River Task Force, P.O. Box 160513, Big Sky, MT 59716.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []