Gary Lee Brandt 1938-2024

On April 1, 2024, Gary Lee Brandt, age 85 and a resident of southern Washington County, Colorado near Lindon, passed away in the Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Colorado surrounded by family. Gary died of acute pancreatitis.

Gary was born on May 17, 1938, along Bow Creek in Graham County, Kansas, north of the small town of Morland, Kansas. Gary’s parents, Elmer Ludwig and Mary Josephine (Gillespie) Brandt, were farmers and already had two daughters, Elaine and Joan, when Gary was born. Alan Charles was born a couple of years after Gary. The young family, along with their many kittens Gary adored, moved from Bow Creek to Akron, Colorado in 1944, where another child was born, Janice. The family lived in Akron and the children attended Akron schools, while Elmer established the farm near the Arickaree store, Anton, and Lindon.

Tragedy struck the family when both young boys ran after Elmer driving a pickup to jump on the running boards as it was travelling around the farmstead. Seven-year old Gary was able to jump on the running board, but 5-year old Alan fell under the back wheel. That loss stuck with Gary throughout his life as he always stressed farm safety to his own children as they worked on the farm.

As the children grew, the family relocated to Aurora, Colorado to attend school. Gary continued to farm with his father during the summers. Gary graduated from Aurora High School in 1956, where he wrestled and played the saxophone. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Colorado State University in 1960. Gary also explored his love of world history during college. Gary was known to quiz his children about historical events and loved talking about the Civil War, World War II, and settlement of the American West. After college, Gary entered the US Army Reserve for two years and trained to be a medic.

Gary began farming full-time in the early 1960s and met Shirley May Vaughn of Anton, CO, who he married on June 25, 1969. They had 3 children, Rhonda Lea, Lance Charles, and Angela Mary. Gary avidly followed his children in their school activities, taught them to farm and appreciate the land, and always started their car on frigid winter mornings. He was especially interested in their sports teams and followed many northeast Colorado schools and players in addition to his own children. Gary and Shirley divorced in 2001.

Gary’s children recalled fond memories of attending their first Denver Bronco game with their Dad, getting out of school to go watch the state high school basketball tournament, and learning to drive a pickup. Learning to drive followed only one rule and started as soon as “you can press the brake pedal down all the way, your back is against the seat, and you can see over the dashboard.” They also recalled the not-so-fond memory of learning to drive a tractor, which they knew led to a full-time summer job.

Gary continued to attend northeast Colorado school activities and when his grandchildren became old enough to participate, Tyler Gary, Travis Charles, Sara Rose, and Marylyn Marie. He was just as involved in attending their games and events as he was with his own children. Gary was always ready with words of advice and encouragement. And, of course, he had endless questions.

While Gary participated in many boards and organizations during his lifetime, he saved most of his free time for the Akron Elks Lodge #2579. He held several officer positions over his decades as an Elk and helped with Poker Runs and the county fair booth. Gary saved his passion for the Elks Hoop Shoot though. Gary was proud to escort several Washington County kids to state, regional, and national competitions throughout the years. He continued to watch the young athletes as their careers progressed into high school and beyond.

The Denver Broncos football team played a significant role in Gary’s life. He and his Dad had season tickets to the Denver Bears AAA baseball team in the 1950s. When Gary was 19, the two showed up to a baseball game and saw a table set up by the front gate. There was a sign up form to get tickets if Denver was able to start a professional football team. Gary was perturbed when his Dad stood in line until the 7th inning to sign up for four tickets. When Denver finally established a team in 1960, Elmer was one of the first in line for season tickets.

Over the decades, Gary attended two Super Bowls, hundreds of games, and watched away games on television with the sound turned off so he could listen to the radio broadcasters. In October 2017, Gary was honored to receive a specially marked game ball in honor of the family being one of the most senior season ticket holders. The Broncos mascot, Thunder, came racing out of the tunnel at the end of the field and the rider tossed the ball to Gary on the 50-yard line. Before the game Gary was practicing his Heisman trophy pose. Rhonda, Lance, and Angie all three said “Just don’t drop the ball, Dad!” Gary made the catch and the crowd roared. From attending the very first Bronco game in the old Denver Bears stadium to catching the game ball in the new Mile High Stadium, Gary was always a fan of the Denver Broncos. He passed that passion on to his children and grandchildren.

Gary avidly read several northeast Colorado newspapers to keep up on sports, local happenings, and people he knew. He enjoyed stopping to chat at the Anton COOP, Spicknall’s (now J&H) or 5 Star in Akron, Mom’s Café in Otis, and many other eating establishments in neighboring towns. Attending sporting events were as much about talking to friends as it was watching the game.

Gary was proceeded in death by his father-Elmer Brandt, mother-Mary Brandt, brother-Alan Brandt, sister-Joan (Brandt) Weller, and daughter-in-law-Rebecca Brandt. Gary was survived by two sisters-Elaine and Janice, his three children-Rhonda Brandt, Lance Brandt, and Angela Wylie, son-in-law-Justin Wylie, grandchildren-Tyler Wylie, Travis Brandt, Sara Wylie, Marylyn Brandt, and many nieces and nephews along with their children.

Funeral services for Gary will be held on Friday, April 19, 2024, at 10:00 am in the First Baptist Church of Akron, with burial at the Akron Cemetery to follow. All are welcome to attend a meal at noon in Gary’s honor at the First Baptist Church following the burial. Memorial donations can be made in Gary’s name to the Akron Elks, with “Hoop Shoot” designated on the memo line.