Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service

Harold Brown

May 12, 1942 ~ April 02, 2018

Harold Albert Brown (Hal) passed away peacefully at the age of 75 surrounded by family at the Spring Creek Inn Memory Care Community in Bozeman on April 2, 2018.

Hal was born in Miles City, Montana, on May 12, 1942 to Albert and Cora Brown. He grew up on the family ranch in Powderville, the middle child between older sister, Jessie, and younger brother, Clarence.  As a fourth-generation Montanan, life was not always easy on the cattle ranch located along the Powder River but Hal (known affectionately as “Buddy” or “Bud” in younger years) inherited his strong work ethic and perseverance from his hard-working family.

Hal attended grade school in one room schools until he went on to graduate from Custer County High School in 1960.  Hal then graduated in 1965 from Montana State University in Bozeman with a BS in Ag Education.  During his time at MSU he was an active member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.  As a longtime season ticket holder and Bobcat Club member, he was always a proud Bobcat.  In the 1990’s he served on Mike Malone’s Presidents Advisory Council.

Upon graduation from college, his first high school vo-ag teaching job was in Forsyth where he started their FFA Club, taught driver’s ed and also coached wrestling.  In Forsyth he met Janice Hoovestal and they were married in 1967 and had two children together, Bridget and Brian. 

After four years teaching in Grants Pass, Oregon, Hal wanted to get back to his roots and return to Montana.  He furthered his education with First Bank System in Minneapolis and Billings and then moved to Fort Benton as an ag loan officer in 1973.  As President of the bank he organized a local Board of Directors group to purchase the bank in 1987 and renamed it First State Bank of Fort Benton.  He served in many leadership positions for State banking organizations throughout his career.  He went on to retire at age 55 to devote the rest of his life to his true passion, which was to work hands-on with livestock and crops himself (rather than advise farmers and ranchers or students on these subjects as he did during his prior two careers). 

He married Ila (Anders) Wishman in 1993 and together they raised registered black angus cattle and quarter horses and farmed irrigated hay crops.  In 2000, they moved to a place on Bull Run Creek near Manhattan to be closer to family and then moved to another ranchette on Rocky Creek in Bozeman in 2004.  He loved to buy a hidden gem and, with a lot of labor and creativity, fix the property up for resale, which he did with four ranchettes and many homes during his life.   

Hal was the ultimate civic-minded community member who would see a need and jump in headfirst.  He started the Fort Benton Little League in the 1970’s and continued to coach baseball for several seasons.  He served as the Manager and Board Member of the Chouteau County Fair for many years where he would also help run and occasionally be the auctioneer for the annual 4-H Livestock Sale.  He was elected outstanding young man of Jaycees, President of the Kiwanis Club, Secretary of the FB Scale Association, a Past Master of the Benton Masonic Lodge, and a member of the Shriners.  Faith was always an important part of Hal’s life and he was a member of the Methodist Church and several Bible Churches.  He had broad knowledge about countless subjects such as archery and rifle hunting, wildlife preservation, weed management, the song birds he was seeing in his bird feeders, where to search for treasurers like shed horns, arrowheads, agates and buffalo skulls, current events, sports to include football and rodeo, Montana history, and the latest stock tips (both livestock and the financial markets).  To his friends, he was known as a prankster and a tough card player, and he had a very unique and infectious laugh that would fill the room.

Family was Hal’s primary focus and they will tremendously miss his steady presence in their lives and ability to analyze a situation and provide wise advice.  He is survived by a loving family that includes: his wife, Ila, of 24 years; his daughter, Bridget (Matt) Ekstrom of Bozeman and their kids Myles and Addison; his son, Brian (Shelby) Brown of Bozeman and their kids Weston, Hadley, and Dawson; his three stepsons, John (Ashley) Wishman of Bozeman and their kids Tucker and Sadie, Henry (Liz) Wishman of Townsend and their kids Jeremiah and Jonah, and Carl (Dawn) Wishman of Geraldine; and his two stepdaughters both of Arkansas, Marie (Steven) Gardner and their kids Stefanie (Kyle Meek and their daughter Caroline), David (Jackie and their daughter Brinley), and Kevin, and Ann (Shawn) Stone and their kids Brian, Roy, and Sara. 

A private family memorial service will be held April 15 under the direction of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service with another gathering this summer at the Brown Ranch in Powderville.  Because of Hal’s strong belief in the value of education, memorial contributions are suggested to the Harold Brown Memorial Scholarship at MSU (Alumni Foundation, PO Box 172750, Bozeman, MT 59717).  A special thank you to the staff at Spring Creek Memory Care for their exceptional services over the past two months.

Embrace a new hobby, go camping or join a club in remembrance of Hal as he was always a goer and doer.  Hal was known for his unique remarks and sayings – one of his favorite phrases was “Turn the Crank,” which meant pick a direction and get there as quick as possible.  He did just that on April 2 when he hurried up and joined the celebration waiting for him in Heaven.