Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Bill Ohrmann (1919- )

Bill was the third of four children, and the only son, of August and Flora Ohrmann, who had moved to Montana from Owatona, Minnesota in 1912 or 13.  The Ohrmann's raised registered Angus cattle in Philipsburg, but shortly after Bill's birth, the family was forced to sell out, and they moved to the Billings, Montana area, where August was a land classifier for the Federal Land Bank.  By 1922, though, they were back in western Montana, again raising registered Angus.  They first returned to Philipsburg, then to the Ovando area where Bill spent most of his early years.  In 1934, they moved to a ranch south of Drummond, Montana, at which time Bill started high school in Drummond.

In 1938, Bill lost both of his parents.  His mother died of cancer in May and his father died of emphysema in the fall. His two older sisters, Geraldine and Anita, were married. Bill took over the operation of the ranch, assisted by his younger sister Marje.

Bill was drafted in 1942, and served part of World War II in New Guinea.  He achieved the rank of master tech sergeant, and worked on C-47 planes.  While in the service, he began corresponding with Phyllis Sliter, a teacher in Wadena, Minnesota. She had come to Spokane to work for the summer, and had met Bill's younger sister, Marje.  In June of 1948, they were married.  They waited a few years before starting a family, which grew to two daughters and a son.  Bill and his wife continued the family tradition of raising registered Angus cattle.

At an early age, Bill started dabbling in art. The margins of his school work were full of doodles. His mother had an artistic bent, and encouraged all the children. Bill began doing simple wood carvings while in high school.  Shortly after his parents died, he enrolled in a correspondence class, which was the only schooling Bill ever received in art.  He also did some watercolor and oil painting.  His wood carving techniques slowly matured, and by the late 1960's he was exhibiting in some shows. Cottonwood was his preferred medium. 

By the age of 77, the physical work of handling two hundred pound blocks of green cottonwood got to be a bit much, and Bill started doing more painting.  This was about the time Bill retired from ranching.  At the age of 77, Bill started working with an entirely new medium, welded metal.  He started with a standing, life size grizzly bear, and enjoyed the process.

View high resolution images of works by Bill Ohrmann when available.