Cleve A. Malmstrom of Whitefish, Montana drowned while fly fishing on the Missouri River near Craig, Montana on a beautiful summer evening June 20, 2014 at almost age 42. Cleve was born June 24, 1972 in Billings, Montana to Marcia K. Wall and Donald N. Malmstrom Jr. He attended grade school in Rosebud, Gardiner and Helena; graduating from Helena High in 1990. He played football, basketball and ran track as a little kid and became an outstanding running back for the Bengals during his high school years. He also ran track all 4 years at HHS. Cleve went on to play college football for the Grizzlies for three years at the University of Montana. Oh yes, and his favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers! You could hear his yells above the rest when his Steelers were winning! His college years at UM were filled with sports, becoming a resident assistant and a tutor in math. Cleve majored in Pre-Physical Therapy, Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. He also was the cadaver lab attendant for two years helping teach anatomy to other students. Cleve was a gifted student and talented athlete throughout his life!
After leaving UM, he pursued a career as an assistant golf pro and caddy; earning his PGA with ease! He worked at different golf courses throughout Oregon, Arizona and California. His favorite was Bandon Dunes in Oregon! He was an excellent teacher of golf technique! “Cradle the club like a baby; not a death grip Mom!”
Montana was always calling him home whereby he returned to the Flathead area in his 30’s and never left again. He was somewhat of a “gypsy” but maintained a home either in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Eureka or Kalispell. He loved the mountains but especially the blue ribbon fly fishing streams! Last year he floated his raft along with his faithful companions Deuce and Sydney (his labs), 350 miles of Montana Rivers! His favorite was the “Mighty Mo” Missouri which he enjoyed fishing as a young boy that turned into a life-long adventure each summer!
Heroics ~ Cleve performed CPR on a heart attack victim in Missoula while attending college to save his life before paramedics arrived. On a vacation to Maui, he saved a young mother and baby trapped in a car while rising waters threatened them during a flash flood. He earned his wings many times. He was also gentle and kind to animals and saved many furry friends along his life journey. He loved animals more than humans and that was perfectly okay.
He did experience true love during high school, college and beyond but was always searching for the perfect outdoorsy woman that was a scratch golfer and enjoyed fly fishing and floating the Montana Rivers 350+ miles each summer! Well, hello?
Cleve lived life the way he wanted . . . his way! He worked hard at dealing cards in the Flathead so he could fly fish the next few weeks! It was a good life and he felt at peace with the rivers of Montana. “The Mighty Mo rocks my world,” is Cleve’s quote two weeks ago after fishing the Missouri for 3 days! “Heading to the Sun River next Thursday, can’t wait! I love Wolf Creek to Augusta/Cascade Triangle. It’s possibly the nicest land in America; had to be a lot of dinosaurs that lived in Craig.” His last text on June 17: “I’m pretty sure I’m on the Montana State fly fishing All Stars! Possibly U.S. or world too, but going pro would ruin it for me like Bobby Jones for golf! Not about the money, it’s about who really wants to be out here. The Sun River made me cry; it was so amazing! Thought about Jon and how his ashes were there. How much talent he had and how beautiful the land is! It overtakes your body. There were four waterfalls and all kinds of rapids! When it’s too hardcore for me, you know it’s the real deal! Great river momma!”
I will miss you more than words can express and I know you’re teaching fly fishing to someone that needed your help in Heaven! Shakespeare wrote “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Cleve gave his gift of fly fishing and golf to many who were part of his teaching journey and loved fiercely those who were in his inner circle. I thank my son for touching my life in a way that no one will ever do. He was a joy, had a great laugh and sense of humor along with an enormous heart! Cleve was highly intelligent and had a deep faith that wasn’t shared unlike his opinions on all subject matters!
Cleve is survived by his mother Marcia Wall, his stepfather Mike Wall of Canyon Creek and father Donald N. Malmstrom Jr. of Salem, Oregon. He leaves behind his sister Monique Malmstrom Bertram and his three nephews Cole, Kaden and Trey Bertram of Beaverton, Oregon and stepbrother Kevin Wall of Marysville. He has many wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and close friends that will miss him forever! He was preceded in death by his maternal and paternal grandparents, his great grandmother Betty, favorite Uncle Jon Malmstrom and his beloved chocolate lab Mocha (mother to 10 puppies that he raised by himself), Abner the toughest black lab that ever lived with 3 legs and Charlotte his yellow lab!
We would like to thank all those that assisted in recovering Cleve, his raft and black lab Syd and Deuce from the Missouri River especially Deputy Cascade Coroner Bob (Wojo) and Randy Wilke and staff at Anderson Stevenson Wilke for their kind assistance. Thank you to all his teachers, coaches and professors that instilled his competitive nature and thirst for knowledge! In lieu of flowers, his family requests memorials sent to Angel Fund, P.O. Box 7436, Helena, MT 59604. Cleve’s ashes will be spread on the “Mighty Mo” near Pelican Point at a later date. He will live on in our hearts forever! As stated by his cousin, “Go catch a fish and experience the joy that Cleve knew.”
I loved you more Clever! xo