Dean Alden Brandt, 87, passed away Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, at Clearwater Valley Hospital, from age-related causes.
He was born March 25, 1932, to Walt and Bessie Brandt, in Orofino.
Dean Alden Brandt was a beloved and devoted father, grandfather and husband. He was a logger, sawmiller, heavy equipment operator and a historian of Clearwater County’s lumber and logging industry extraordinaire.
He grew up in the woods in the Gin Pole Johnson family logging operation and built numerous sawmills with his father and brother, John Brandt, before building a wooden cedar fencing mill with his father on Orofino Creek in 1963. In 1980, Dean replaced the wooden structure with a steel mill he designed and then built with the help of his daughter, whom he taught to weld, and his mill crew.
There was never an old rotten cedar log that he couldn’t saw into a beautiful fence board in that mill. The sawmill operated until his retirement in 2014.
In 1961, Dean met and married Judith Wunderlich. After living for a short time in Pierce and in an apartment in Orofino, they settled into their home, which they built on Orofino Creek and where they had their daughter, Alison, in 1966.
They rebuilt their home again in 1981 after a fire burned the first one to the ground. After Dean broke his leg during the rebuild, Dean’s brother, nephew, and father-in-law, Gene Wunderlich, were instrumental in helping Dean complete it.
Dean was an avid golfer and bowler, taking his family to many bowling tournaments with his friends throughout the Northwest. Dean, Judy and Alison never went camping because Dean said that he lived his whole childhood in the woods, why would he want to go vacationing there? So they went on wonderful trips all around the United States.
He loved to run his D-8 Cat and was an excellent operator, leveling the home sites for many people in addition to his own mill property, his parent’s, his home sites on the Orofino creek property, and for his daughter’s home in Orofino. He could build and mechanic on anything and when he couldn’t do it the right way, he could always get it done with brute force and awkwardness, according to his aunt, Evelyn Mooers.
Dean loved family and provided his home for many large family gatherings of Judy’s sisters and his siblings and all of their children. His nieces and nephews, of whom there were many, would run wild around their home playing tag and causing a commotion which would drive everyone crazy but Dean. Every one of his nieces and nephews were truly special to him. He was happy to let them run.
Nothing could compare to the love and joy he felt for his grandchildren when they came along, starting in 1997. Dalton, Brandton, and twins Wyat and Samantha Chatfield were his pride and joy. He was an amazing grandfather, teaching his grandchildren all the things he had taught his daughter. How to swim, weld, play pool, operate heavy equipment, drive a standard, magic tricks and play cards, just to name a few.
He attended all of their Boy Scout and Girl Scout ceremonies, dance and piano recitals, band concerts, 4-H competitions, graduations and sporting events, even when it became difficult for him to walk because of being knocked off a load of logs in his 20s. His son-in-law, John Chatfield, was always helping him getting in and out of places and Dean was thankful for his assistance. Dean’s favorite times were being with his family.
He is survived by his wife, Judy; daughter Alison (John) Chatfield; sister Elaine Pelton; sisters-in-law Norma Brandt and Norma Carpenter; brothers-in-law Hank Carpenter and Mike Dugger; four grandchildren; nephews Lucky (Nancy) Brandt, Skip (Pia) Brandt, Dana (Danna) Pelton, Mike Wilks and Jeff (Katie) Dugger; nieces Amee (Daniel) Coulter, Mindy (Guy) Kelley and Jeni (Mike) Fitzgerald; and many cousins, great and great-great nieces and nephews.
Dean was a humble, kind and generous man who had many friends, mill crews who loved him, and a family who adored him. Words cannot express how much he was loved or how much he will be missed.
A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. at the Riverside Cemetery in Orofino on Aug. 24, 2019. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Clearwater Historical Society, Inc., c/o Goffinet & Clack Chartered, P.O. Box 629, Orofino, Idaho 83544.