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Joseph Duane Brenneman passed away during the early morning hours of June 10, 2018 from metastatic kidney cancer. He was born on October 21, 1957 in Kalispell, Montana to Shirley and Clifford Brenneman and was the oldest of seven children. His childhood was spent on the family farm where he loved playing with his brother David. When they weren’t playing at pretend farmers they roamed the woods looking for adventure. They spent many hot summer days in the pond splashing around, tinkering with hand tools, pulling each other out of ditches on their bikes or corralling and teasing the various farm animals. As he grew older he could often be found hiking, fishing and hunting.
Joe attended Fair-Mont Elementary school and Flathead High School. He then went to college in Goshen, Indiana where he graduated with a degree in middle school education. He taught middle school long enough to realize he didn’t like teaching middle school, and then made his way back to the valley and has remained here ever since.
Joe wore many hats in the years he spent here. He was first and foremost a farmer and his love for the land and our valley affected his decision to become involved in many groups that sought to preserve a way of life that is not often found elsewhere. Becoming engaged on several important boards, he was able to influence decisions regarding land management. He was an advocate for smart growth policies and wanted housing subdivisions to include sidewalks, adequate street lighting for safety and a common green area for families to use. He knew the beauty and way of life in our valley appealed to many people and that this would entice newcomers who also wanted to call this place home. He believed that we could grow our valley while still maintaining the beauty and wildness of this place, if done with mindful planning.
Joe was a dairy and grain farmer but then moved the operation to beef cattle and grain. There wasn’t any aspect of farming that he didn’t enjoy. From planting and harvesting a crop, to working with cattle, to repairing machinery that always broke down, Joe thought doing these things was a day well spent. And this sentiment was expressed in every kind of weather.
Joe sat on many boards: CHS, City/County Planning , AERO, Flathead County Commissioner, Habitat for Humanity, Western Dairy, Kalispell School District, Flathead Basin Commission, Rotary, Montana State Fund and the Imagine If library foundation. He was a first responder for Creston Fire and an EMT on the Blacktail Ski Patrol. He was a Dream Adaptive volunteer and skied with them on Whitefish Mountain. Editor Kellyn Brown gave him a wonderful opportunity to write a regular column for the Flathead Beacon entitled Occam’s Razor.
Joe thought life was an adventure and a way to catalogue those adventures was through storytelling. He had a natural skill for providing details in his stories that resulted in hilarious retelling of events. He enjoyed public speaking and could often get a group of people to laugh at most of his stories. He was honored when he was told that some thought him the Will Rogers of the Flathead valley.
Joe was married to Cathy Bonham in 1985 and they had 2 children, Jesse and Erin. This marriage was later dissolved and in 2001 he married Nancy Pensa. They shared many adventures together which gave Joe the opportunity to gather even more stories to tell to others. In the years of their marriage they hiked many trails in and out of Glacier Park, kayaked lakes, traveled to other countries and drank many cups of strong coffee while debating the merits of the actions of others. He was a phenomenal life partner and a joy to love.
Joe was a gift to his family and he will be missed tremendously. He was preceded in death by his daughter Erin. He is survived by his wife Nancy, children Autumn, Jesse and wife Catherine, and Ian, his parents Shirley and Clifford, siblings David and his wife Lorri, Cal and wife Twila, Mary and husband Lowell, Joyce and husband Doug, Karen and husband Jerrold, Carl and wife Amber. Also many uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Our family would like to thank the team that comprised Joe’s healthcare during the years of his illness; Dr. Karen Hunt and her wonderful staff, Dr. David Sheldon, Joan, Jen and all the people who worked with him there and finally, Dr. Andy Ferdinand and the Interventional Radiology staff. You gave him the opportunity of extra time with us and we very much appreciate it.
A private service will take place at Darlington Funeral Home. Condolences and remembrances will be greatly treasured.