While Stockman Bank Gets Giddy About Its Future, I’m Getting Synchro-Curious About Its Past

by Travis Mateer

UPDATE: There are TWO Bill Coffees in this post. I am VERY grateful to Pete Talbot (with his own family pedigree) who provided clarity on my research, which is ongoing and sometimes prone to inaccuracies. For more context on the history of Stockman Bank, here’s a link to their blog.

Before we get to the past, let us first examine the giddy future Stockman Bank sees for itself, thanks, in part, to a wonderfully beneficial relationship with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. From the first link:

Stockman – a family-owned bank – expanded its presence in western Montana when it built a new facility in downtown Missoula. The company followed by building a second bank on Missoula’s south side, and renovated a third located off North Reserve.

Stockman currently claims 36 locations across the state.

The emphasis is mine because it’s got to be nice to get such nice copy from a “journalist” like Martin Kidston. And if that doesn’t do it for you, you can go straight to the source for saccharin shit like this:

What people in Missoula may not know about Bill Coffee is that before he got creative with financing Soviet-era inspired architecture from the 20’s, Bill Coffee was waging a war against a local scourge of vermin threatening his humble origins as the co-owner of the Hammond building downtown: PIGEONS!

But not just ANY pigeons, Bill Coffee’s war was aimed specifically at Ed Sharp, the co-owner of the Wilma (right next door to Bill) and a dedicated LOVER of pigeons, especially his beloved Koro Hatto.

Ed Sharp with Koro Hatto

Here is an excerpt from the very rare publication I found a copy of online, and promptly ordered:

In March, 1981, a prominent and wealthy business owner, if not one of the richest men in the city, determined that the city should do something about the pigeons that flew over a downtown building. The birds nestled in his awning alcoves, possibly cooing occasionally on his window sill. The damage was nil, this man did not like pigeons.

He was powerful with his control and ownership of many of the downtown Missoula buildings. Several Missoula business people relied on him for financial help. He got his start in a small fife in the Wilma building. His office later became known as “the morgue” because all unwanted things usually ended up in his depository. He rose from a small investor to become a tycoon of financial power. His business empire eventually extended beyond Montana to California, large cities in Texas and other areas needing financial loans for building expansion and housing developments.

It goes on, but I’m going to keep the rest for some future plans I am working on. Instead I’ll leave you with another picture from this historical gem I discovered:

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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4 Responses to While Stockman Bank Gets Giddy About Its Future, I’m Getting Synchro-Curious About Its Past

  1. Pete Talbot says:

    Two entirely different Bill Coffees, Skink. Missoula’s William O. “Bill” Coffee, who didn’t like pigeons, passed away in 2011. Stockman Bank’s William E. “Bill” Coffee hails from Eastern Montana and is still alive. So much for your “synchronicity.”

    • Thank you, as a one-person blogging operation without significant financial compensation, I do sometimes rely on crowd-sourcing criticism from people like Pete who ALSO have family pedigrees involved in perpetuating nasty politicians like John Engen.

      I wish our local oligarchs were more creative in naming their progeny, but I guess when you’re building buildings like Soviet monoliths to exploiting public financing, recycling BILL makes sense.

      • Speaking as another one-man operation, I have found TruePeopleSearch.com to be useful in finding people – possibly TPS could have helped you keep your BILLS straight. It’s a free service – you only pay if you want in-depth reports.

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