Butte Man who Inspired Our Lady of the Rockies Has Died

Bob O'Bill died Sunday in Great Falls

By Justin Franz

BUTTE — A man whose gratitude for his wife’s recovery from a serious illness inspired the creation of a 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary on the Continental Divide overlooking Butte has died.

Family members said Bob O’Bill died Sunday in Great Falls, where he had been hospitalized since Friday. He was 83.

O’Bill originally envisioned a 5-foot statute to thank God for his wife’s recovery in 1979. His enthusiasm and the work and contributions of many others led to the much larger project being installed on the mountain a week before Christmas in 1985. Our Lady of the Rockies is lighted at night.

O’Bill was a U.S. Navy veteran and retired electrician who volunteered time at the Butte Emergency Food Bank.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joyce; two daughters, a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.