TORRINGTON – Harold L. (Hal) Brethour, 88 of Torrington, passed away on July 9, 2020, at his home surrounded by family.
Hal was born Oct. 25, 1931, to Ted and Kate (Gobel) Brethour in Whitney, Neb. He was preceded in death by his parents, his in-laws Ethel and Ray Lockwood, his older brother Russell “Bud” Brethour, and his daughter Sandy (Brethour) Schwartzkopf.
Hal grew up working on the family farm and riding his horse to and from school in Mitchell, Neb., where he excelled in sports, especially basketball. He graduated in 1950 and shortly thereafter joined the Navy during the Korean War. He served as an aviation mechanic for much of that time, being stationed at San Diego and Adak Naval Base in Alaska.
After his discharge, he attended Western Nebraska Community College, transferred to San Jose State, and then ultimately obtained his degree in Industrial Arts and Physical Education at the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 1958. He went on to get his master’s degree from the University Northern Colorado in 1961.
While in college, Hal’s sister Ruth introduced him to a nursing student. They hit it off and he married his wife of 63 years on Sept. 2, 1956, Shirley Lockwood. Upon earning his degree, Hal took a job at Trenton, Neb., and a year later the couple moved to Harrisburg, Neb., where he taught Industrial Arts and coached. The family, which had been joined by two daughters, Sandy and Susie, moved to Torrington in 1962 where Hal taught Industrial Arts at the High School. A year later, a third daughter Sherry was born.
Hal gave up teaching a short while later, first selling Insurance and real estate, and then in 1967 adding Eastern Wyoming Construction and Halco Construction to what soon would be a list of many businesses. His construction companies were instrumental in the development of Torrington, building more than 200 houses and many of the businesses and public facilities. Hal gave back to the community that had given him so much success, serving on a number of boards, giving freely to organizations and charities, and even donating the ground that comprises the Community Hospital campus.
Of all the boards and organizations he belonged to, he was involved the most in Rotary. A past president and member for decades, he rarely missed a meeting and passed that passion on to his daughter Susie and son-in-law Tom, both of whom are also past presidents.
As successful as he was in business, it pales in comparison to his accomplishments as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Family was everything to Hal. He led by example, providing everything they needed to succeed on their own. He adored his family and was the most loving and caring patriarch anyone could ask for.
Upon Goshen County Economic Development honoring him for exemplifying community leadership through business and community service with the “Big Chief” award, he was asked why he worked so hard. He replied “Family is what you are working for. Without them there is not much reason, you don’t do it for yourself.”
He was an avid sports fan and didn’t miss an opportunity to watch a Cornhusker football game or a Rockies baseball game with his sons-in-law and grandsons. While he was able, many weekends were spent grilling steaks or burgers for the family get togethers. Of course, the meat came from cattle that he raised for so many years. He developed a small herd of cattle into HLB Charolais, a very successful registered cattle business that peaked at 500 head. He referred to the farming and ranching as his “golf,” for he spent very little time on other activities for himself. He especially loved calving season and touched nearly every newborn calf until his health required him to sell in 2014 at the age of 82. The grandkids loved the time they were able to spend with him at the farm, which through his guidance and example instilled the “country life” mentality in them; hard work, honesty, family, and caring. Hal will be missed by his family, the community, and at morning coffee, but his legacy will live on.
Hal is survived by the love of his life Shirley (Lockwood) Brethour of Torrington (he carried her picture in his wallet for more than 64 years), his sister Ruth Russell of Torrington, daughters Susie (Buck) Klemola and Sherry (Tom) Kelly, and son-in-law Rick Schwartzkopf, all of Torrington; grandchildren Joel (Rachel) Schwartzkopf of Fort Collins, Colo., Bethany (Dan) Schwartzkopf of Torrington, Amy (Mike) Ranalletti of Scottsbluff, Neb., Tressa (Chad) Wellman of Cheyenne, Corrie (Jack) Leiseth of Saratoga, Erika (Philip) Sully of Tempe, Ariz., Jake Kelly of Cheyenne, Jessie Kelly, Caleb Kelly and Grace Kelly, all of Torrington; 11 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A public viewing will be held at Colyer Funeral Home, 2935 Main Street, in Torrington, on Wednesday, July 15 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Services will be held at the United Methodist Church, 2702 Main Street, Torrington, followed by graveside services and interment at Valley View Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sandy Schwartzkopf Scholarship Trust at the University of Wyoming by calling (307) 766.6300 or e-mailing [email protected]; Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter, 436 East 22nd, Torrington, WY 82240, or My Second Home Rescue, P.O. Box 177, Nunn, CO 80648.