It was learned over the weekend that celebrated actor Treat Williams was killed in a motorcycle accident in Vermont at the age of 71.

KGVO News reached out to Bryan Douglass, author, and pilot of the Miss Montana, recently named the official state airplane by Governor Greg Gianforte, for his recollections of Treat Williams, who became deeply involved in the Miss Montana project.

The Now Late Actor Treat Williams was involved with the Miss Montana Project

“We were so sad to hear that (Williams’ death) yesterday,” began Douglass. “It was a surprise, a shock. Everybody says nice things about people after they're gone but with Treat it's really easy. We did not know him long but I felt like we knew him well. I mean here he was this famous, accomplished, experienced actor with all kinds of awards and accolades, and he came out and found out about our project through a mutual friend, and he lent his celebrity to support our cause.”

Douglass, the author of the book ‘Every Reason to Fail; The Miss Montana Story’, had many memories to share about Treat Williams and his attachment to the project.

“He came out several times, worked on the airplane, and helped us raise money and awareness,” he said. “He was actually an accomplished high-time pilot, especially for someone who had never flown professionally. He had flown some serious equipment and 10,000 hours or more. But beyond all that, and maybe definitely more important, he was just a nice guy. He was very humble and down to earth. He lived on a farm in New England and was a dedicated husband and father; mowed his own grass and, you know, sort of the opposite of your image of a Hollywood star.”

Williams became Close to Missoula D-Day Veteran John Nelson

One of the most renowned supporters of the Miss Montana project was the now late D-Day veteran and Missoula native John Nelson, who Treat Williams befriended during his time here in Missoula.

“He became really good friends with John Nelson one of our D-Day veterans who was also involved with our cause,” he said. “Even though none of us knew John very well he and Treat really hit it off. I saw them together often whenever they were both there and they would end up talking to each other. You know, Treat had a very deep personal connection to World War II and D-Day.  I think his father was in Second Airborne, and his uncle, who he was named after, died in a bomber crash in Italy during the war.”

Douglass had Just One Regret about Treat Williams

Asked for his final thoughts about Treat Williams, Douglass said he regretted not being able to train him to fly Miss Montana.

“He came out a number of times and he would do events and I got a chance to visit with him,” he said. “When you talked to him he was just an average guy, and he didn't carry his celebrity as a big deal. In fact, I think he probably preferred not to. And I wish I could have flown with him, I guess is what I would conclude with his really sorry that we didn't get to put him in the cockpit and get him to fly him around in Miss Montana. I guess we can hope that he and John Nelson have all kinds of time to have conversations now.”

Williams was also featured in the Miss Montana documentary ‘Return to the Big Skies’ which premiered in Missoula in 2022.

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