George Haider, 88, who started the Big Sky Federal Credit Union, died June 27, 2014, of lung cancer.
He was born to Michael and Mathilda Haider in St. Anthony, N.D., on Aug. 10, 1925, the eldest of three children. The family moved to Mandan, N.D., and he graduated from high school in 3 1/2 years with honors, so he could serve during World War II.
Mr. Haider served in the Philippines and his platoon was just getting ready to board a ship for the invasion of Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped. He then served in the occupation force and was honorably discharged in April 1946.
Returning to Mandan, he became the assistant manager at J.C. Penney Co. He married Marjorie Kautzman on July 7, 1947. In 1953, he was transferred to Dickinson, N.D., to help open and manage a new J.C. Penney store.
In the fall of 1954, the family moved to Billings where he worked at Snappy Foods and invested in a shoe store. In 1958, he was hired by the State Highway Department and worked there 30 years until retirement.
In the early ’60s, and Mr. Haider thought Highway Department employees would benefit by having their own credit union, so he started discussing the idea with fellow employees in their homes and often left with their investment. On Dec. 17, 1963, the Big Sky Federal Credit Union was born, and he remained secretary-treasurer for 37 years before retiring in 2000.
Mr. Haider also did income taxes for friends and bookkeeping for a few companies. He organized bowling tournaments and started a retirees’ monthly breakfast get-together that continues to this day. He missed his first meeting in 25 years last month.
Mr. Haider was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus and many other organizations. He had received care from RiverStone Hospice.
Survivors include his wife; sons, Daryl and Dale; a sister, Lou Salmonsen; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass was held July 2 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.
Memorials may be made to the Billings Catholic Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 31158, Billings, MT 59107.