Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Bill Sapa, coach of Columbia Falls baseball team, owner of Blue Moon, dies

Editor | April 18, 2023 4:05 PM

Bill Sapa, the owner of the Blue Moon Bar and Nite Club in Columbia Falls and the coach of the Columbia Falls High School baseball team has died, multiple people have told the Hungry Horse News.

Sapa was reportedly found in his recliner chair unresponsive this morning. No further details were available.

Sapa’s roots in Columbia Falls ran deep.

He was a standout baseball player for the Glacier Twins under coach Julio Delgado and played for the University of New Mexico in college.

He was drafted as a left-handed pitcher by the New York Yankees, but never played professionally.

Bill Sapa came home to support his family instead of playing professional ball, he said in an interview last year.

The Sapa-Johnsrud baseball fields in Columbia Falls are named after Ray Johnsrud and Jim Sapa. They were killed in August, 1984 when they were hit by a train at 12th Avenue Railroad crossing. Both were 16 at the time of the accident.

Jim Sapa was Bill's older brother.

Sapa took on the task of coaching the inaugural season of the Columbia Falls High School baseball team. The team was just two games into its first season.

The Sapa family have long been supporters of baseball, sports and a host of other community organizations over the years.

Charlotte and Dick Sapa, Bill's parents, bought the Blue Moon from Lily Brash in 1972.

The Club was built in 1947, one of many watering holes that sprung up as the Hungry Horse Dam was being built.

When they first took the bar over, the couple worked tirelessly on fixing it up. The front door was a piece of plywood with a padlock on it, Charlotte recalled in a 2019 interview. They lived in a little apartment behind the bar with their three children, Bill, Charlene and Jimmy.

Dick and Charlotte both died in 2021. Their portrait graces the side of the Blue Moon.

Today the bar and its rodeo grounds are an iconic fixture in Columbia Falls. The rodeo draws thousands each Thursday night in the summer months. Bill also ran the family farm, whose open acreage and herd of black angus cows greet people entering Columbia Falls.

A gathering for viewing and visitation is open for family and friends on Wednesday, April 26, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Columbia Mortuary in Columbia Falls.  A celebration of Sapa’s life will be held on his birthday at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 29 at the Columbia Falls High School Gymnasium with a reception following at the Blue Moon.  Please visit Sapa’s tribute page at www.columbiamortuary.com to share memories and condolences with the family.  

This story was updated to reflect the dates of the Sapa-Johnsrud accident..