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Surrounded by his family, Gary Robert Brenneman passed away peacefully on October 22, 2021 following a 12 year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gary was born to Robert and Alma Brenneman on November 8, 1943 in Elida, Ohio. He was raised on a farm with his two younger sisters, Gloria and Cheryl. After he graduated from Gomer High School, he attended Bluffton College and married his high school sweetheart Jeanie. They ventured west in 1970, first settling in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Montana became their home in 1981; they lived in Polson for 24 years before retiring to Kalispell in 2005. Gary and Jeanie were married for 56 years and raised two children together, Wes and Nicole. Gary was a quiet and steadfast example of faith in Christ, integrity, hard work, kindness, and humility. He nurtured these values in his children and grandchildren throughout his life.
Gary was wise, introspective and soft spoken in nature. His words were few and carefully chosen, yet always thoughtful and articulate. Though an art teacher by training, Gary found his passion and unique gifts in designing and building homes which became his life’s work. He enjoyed working with dirt, wood, and stone. He wanted his work to complement natural landscapes and be of lasting service and joy to others. His craftsmanship and talents were widely regarded and deeply appreciated. Inevitably, he and his clients developed lifelong cherished friendships. Those that worked with Gary over the years can attest to his incredible work ethic and attention to quality and beauty in every last detail. Gary’s homes were truly works of art; they grace the ski hills of Colorado, the island of Hawaii and the shores of Flathead Lake.
Gary had an adventurous spirit and deep love for the outdoors. Over the years he enjoyed downhill skiing, water skiing, surfing, hiking and sailing - most often with his children or grandchildren in tow. At the age of 68, he took up snowboarding with his grandkids; weekends together at Blacktail Mountain became the norm for several winters. Gary also enjoyed participating in Taekwondo and Aikido. In more recent years, he was a faithful swimmer at the local pool. His goal each year was to swim 80 miles, the distance around Flathead Lake.
Grandchildren were one of Gary’s greatest joys. He savored opportunities to spend quality time with them. Their earliest memories include endless read-alouds on his lap. As the years went by there were countless days spent tinkering in his wood shop, camping and hiking, sailing on Flathead Lake, eating ice cream together, and sharing many long conversations. Gary particularly enjoyed fostering his passion for adventure in his grandkids. “Travels with Gramps” became a cherished tradition that included extended road trips to destinations like the Grand Canyon. As his grandchildren grew up, he supported their every endeavor. He delighted in attending concerts, theatre performances, swim meets, cross country races, and celebrations of every kind. His adoration and pride for each of his grandchildren was readily apparent. His investments into their lives have been invaluable in shaping their character. Gramps was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.
Gary is survived by his wife Jeanie; his sisters, Gloria (Randy) Bowersock and Cheryl (Chuck) Casey; his son Wes (Joan) Brenneman; his daughter Nicole (Micah) Hill; and his six grandchildren Frances (Jared), Luke, Lois, Noah, Annie, and Simon. A memorial service will be held for Gary at Faith Covenant Church in Kalispell on Friday, November 26, at 4:00 pm. A light dinner reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.