Corvallis – Ellsworth Terrill (Terry) Nobles was born 28 May, 1920 to Edward Thomas and Edith Sherman Nobles in Bellingham, Washington. He attended Bow grade school, then Mt. Vernon High School, graduating in 1937. He attended Skajit Valley Junior College, then University of Washington prior to enlisting 21 November, 1941.
After flight school, his initial deployment was to SW Pacific where he became a SCAT (Solomans Combat Air Transport) pilot in 1943, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals. Much of his WWII service was spent in the left seat of Marine transports flying supplies in and wounded out of the S Pac theatre where he met future US President Dick Nixon. At Apamama and Tarawa in 1944 Terry was Squadron Instructor, flying C-47s. In China 1947, Terry was part of an American operation that built and established the “Garden of Light” orphanage where Terry maintained contact for over 40 years.
In 1950 Terry met and wed the catch of his life, Betty Ortolf, in a six-week wild romance that ended with a wedding certificate and his call to duty rather than a honeymoon. Terry completed his degree in Political Science in 1955 at the University of Maryland while stationed in Washington, D.C. at the Pentagon. Terry retired from the Marine Corps 30 June 1963 as a Major. He and Betty never forgot or lost touch with their military friends and family around the world.
They returned to the valley, choosing to be near his father and grandfather who were proprietors of Nobles Clothing on Main Street in Hamilton. In 1963, Terry and Betty purchased the family’s “one & only” home north of Corvallis from original owner Mabel Schwab, widow of Charles Schwab, one of Copper King Marcus Daly’s jockeys. Terry worked as a bank examiner for the state for four years where in down time, he logged hours on nearly every fishable stream or river in the state. Citizens State bank offered Terry a position that would end weeks on the roads away from family. Thus began Terry’s singular habit of pen and paper in the front pocket of a dress shirt – and an appointment list that never seemed to end.
Being able to be home during the week, Terry became active in the Masonic Temple, which he had been invited to join in 1945 while stationed in N. Carolina. Terry served as Rainbow Dad for Corvallis Rainbow Girls, DeMolay Boys councilor, was inducted into the Grand Cross of Colors and was active in both Hamilton York Rite and Missoula Scottish Rite bodies. In 1998 Terry was honored with the Knights Templar Cross of Honor and in 1999 “Mason of the Year” for Montana.
Never relinquishing his oath of service to the United States of America, Terry was active in Corvallis American Legion Post 91 and served as the Commander from 1967 to 1971. He was encouraged by the camaraderie of those who gave so selflessly of themselves for the betterment of this nation and whose service did not end with their detachment date. He was honored in 1998 as Grand Marshal for the Corvallis Memorial Day parade.
Terry was a founding member of the Corvallis Civic Club and Teller Wildlife Refuge, serving on both boards. He served on the Corvallis Cemetery board, was a member of Fly Fishers of the Bitter Root, Trout Unlimited, Bitterroot Audubon and Ducks Unlimited and served as a pilot for winter wild game counting for various organizations. There was nary an organization that didn’t receive a donation from Terry over the years. He was famous for allowing opposing political signs to be put up along his Eastside Highway property.
Terry tried to live a policy of ‘leave the place better than you found it’. He believed a day would come that he would be judged by his actions and deeds. In recent conversations with his children, Terry believed his soul would depart these earthly bounds and he looked forward to being reunited with his beautiful Betty – his blithe spirit of more than 60 years.
Terry and family are deeply grateful to the Marcus Daly home-health staff, Hospice – most especially to Lorri, Eroll, Ethan and Sue for their loving care the past several years allowing him to remain at home.
Terry leaves behind four children: Craig/Sarah Nobles of Colorado Springs, CO, Lynn Dornfeld of St. Louis, MO, Buddy/Nancy Nobles of Missoula, Tori Nobles/Don Stephens of Hamilton, grandchildren, great grandchildren and an extended family of loved ones and friends around the world.
Please join the family in celebration of a quiet, humble, loyal, honest, father, husband, Mason, Legionnaire, Marine this Saturday, February 22 at 2 p.m. at Daly-Leach Chapel in Hamilton.
In lieu of flowers and at Terry’s request, please donate in Terry’s honor to Bitter Root Land Trust, P.O. Box 1806, Hamilton MT 59840 – to leave the place better than you found it.