Harold Dean WilcoxsonApril 15, 1923 ~ August 30, 2017 (age 94)
Harold Wilcoxson, 94, renowned ice cream maker, of Livingston, Montana, passed away Wednesday, August 30, 2017 surrounded by the love of his closest friends.
A Celebration of Life honoring Harold will be held at the Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream plant located at 314 South Main Street in Livingston, MT on September 30, 2017 from 11PM-2PM Mountain Time. Light lunch and of course, ice cream will be provided. Please note, due to health codes and safety reasons, no tours will be given.
Distinguished business man and ice cream maker, Harold Dean Wilcoxson, passed away at the age of 94 on August 30, 2017. The family owned company has been a staple of the Livingston, MT community since 1912. The dream will live on with the extended family that Harold treasured and respected throughout his life.
Wilcoxson’s was started in 1912 by Harold’s father, Carl Wilcoxson. Starting as a confectionary, ice cream quickly became its specialty. From the beginning, Wilcoxson’s used only the highest quality ingredients such as sweet cream from local dairy farmers as well as sugar from the sugar beet plant in Billings, MT. Dedication to quality and customer service has been key to making Wilcoxson’s the longest operating supplier of goods to Yellowstone National Park, dating back to 1927. At one point, ice cream was delivered to the Park by trucks and trains in metal cans surrounded by ice and salt. The transportation gradually evolved to colorful, near spotless refrigeration trucks while manufacturing continues in the same well-kept buildings used in the 1900’s. They use both classic and modern age equipment with some of it so meticulously kept, it has been in use since the 1950’s.
Harold was born on April 15, 1923 to Carl and Harriett Esther (Swingley) Wilcoxson. Growing up with the business, his first job at Wilcoxson’s was cleaning cream cans, which local dairy farmers and ranchers delivered for use in production. He worked in the factory alongside his father until graduating from Park High in 1941. Harold had an aptitude for electronics which he further developed at Kinmen Business University where he earned a certificate in electronics repair. On September 15, 1942 Harold entered the United States Navy where they recognized his propensity for electronics. He trained at The Naval Research Institute in Washington D.C. and became a radar specialist, later electronics Chief, assigned to U.S.S. Quincey (CA-71). He had many experiences on that ship including being located off the coast of France on D-Day in 1944, anchored in Sagami Wan, outside of Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender in 1945, and being tasked with replacing a broken radar antenna located 125 feet up the mast during rough seas! Certainly, not jobs for the faint of heart, but Harold was always up for the challenge.
With increased demand, Wilcoxson’s opened a distribution center in the most populous center of Montana, Billings. That plant eventually became the place where most of the novelty items would be manufactured ongoing. Just a few years later Harold received honorable discharge on September 10, 1951. He returned to Livingston where he assumed command of Wilcoxson’s and fueled their innovation and growth. A private man who didn't shy away from hard work found himself in a routine of contiguous workdays starting with hot, fresh oatmeal, but at some point, in the day finding time for a scoop of his favorite treat…chocolate ice cream. Arriving at the plant around 6 am, he would look for any electrical or refrigeration issues from the night before and then handle the standard day to day business activities. Harold continued to utilize his knowledge of electronics in new plant projects often designing his own electrical schematics and floor plans. Often working seven days a week well into his 90’s. Harold was an exemplary business owner, operator, and mentor. In between ice cream creations Harold made time for his other passion, fast cars.
Harold loved his company and his array of notable cars. Never boasting flashy colors, he bought cars for the speed. His first car was a 1946 Ford Convertible, but the car he owned the longest was his 1970 Chevelle LS-6 with 450 horsepower. He enjoyed putting the Chevelle to the test on various drag racing tracks and Montana throughout the 70’s. That love of speed never faded. His face would always light up when he talked about cars or racing.
Throughout his long and accomplished life, Harold always tried to leave the world a better place than it was the day before. He was known as a kind, generous, and hardworking man who spent his entire working life tirelessly building and bettering his family legacy, Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream. In his 94 years on Earth, he impacted many people with his contagious smile, professional dedication, and timeless friendships. His legacy will live on through the support and hard work of his extended Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream family, always so much more than employees. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.