March 14, 1924-Aug. 29, 2016
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Clinton was born on his grandfather's farm south of Niotaze, Kansas, on a dark, rainy night, March 14, 1924. The doctor came out from Caney, Kansas, for his delivery. He grew up with his younger brother, Robert Waldo, and with his parents, Cloy William and Retha Margaret (Cottrell) who lived on several different rented farms in the area, learning to work hard and learning several very practical skills that would serve him in later life. He started school in Otto, and grew to his teen years on the family farm which his mother entitled 'Sunnybrook', northeast of Cedar Vale, in the Round Mound area. Both Otto and Round Mound were one room school houses. Clinton benefited from the individual attention given by teachers there, and by participation in 4-H club, and his extended family associations nearby in Dexter, where his paternal grandparents lived. His faith in God was initially shaped by his mother's evening Bible story reading and singing and prayers, all of which he continued with his own children many years later. On the first Sunday evening in January 1939, with the encouragement of his mother, he confessed his faith in Jesus, and was baptized into Christ. His spiritual life had begun to blossom, and he never looked back.
His high school education in Cedar Vale, Kansas, was followed initially by attendance at Kansas State Teachers College in Pittsburgh, Kansas. After a year there, war was declared and he was drafted into the army and served as a radio operator mechanic on a B-17 bomber. He was part of the 96th Bomber Group, 8th Air force based in Snetterton Heath, northeast of London, England. Recently, he traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Honor Flight of the Ozarks, commemorating his service.
Following his discharge at the end of the war, he found employment in Topeka, Kansas, where he met and shortly afterward, married Quana Faye Guinn – of Wellington, Kansas, on Aug. 16, 1946. Clinton began further education at Stillwater, Oklahoma, studying Agriculture Economics at Oklahoma A & M. It was while in school here that he made a decision to preach, to become a minister of the Gospel. This decision set his vision for the next sixty years as he ministered in Oklahoma, Kansas, Montana, and western Canada. He also ministered for short periods of time in India, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. Several men have shared that Clinton mentored them in their decisions to become ministers offering pointers on how to treat people with genuine kindliness. He spent his life looking for ways to promote peace, unity and loving gentleness. His mantra in every challenge was, "Let's pray about this." We could always tell from his words in prayer that he was on intimate terms with our Heavenly Father.
With Faye, he fathered six living children: Kara Melinda, Marilyn Susanne, Michael William, Thomas Mark, George Paul, and Peter Lynn. They have many childhood memories of camping, traveling, mountain climbing, Friday night family-fun-nights, and singing times.
After ministering in Riverside, Oklahoma, and Kiowa, Kansas, and briefly in Ames, Oklahoma, Clinton and Faye moved their small family (1950) to Bozeman, Montana, where they lived and worked with the church for eight years. Another four years were spent ministering in Anaconda, Montana. It was during this time, the church grew in Montana to include many more small congregations, and the purchase of the Bow and Arrow Ranch created a Bible Camp reality. Clinton was extensively involved in encouraging, mentoring and sharing in these possibilities. He also initiated a bulletin of encouragement, the Montana Vineyard, which shared the church news of the entire state with people elsewhere. His children remember collating the bulletin for mailing, walking around the working table even as they were barely tall enough to see over it.
After a year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they worked with a supporting congregation, the Brazles moved in 1963 to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, where Clinton worked with the "Airport church of Christ", located on the campus of Western Christian College. A few years previously he had been walking across the campus of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas and noted a "Searcy Academy"; he envisioned a place where his own children might attend a Christian high school, and the move to Weyburn was influenced by 'what value might be in it for his kids'.
While living on the campus of Western, one influence was the initiation of "Young Timothy's Class". This early-morning class for young men provided an opportunity to learn to lead singing, give lessons, lead prayers, and participate in any given role a minister might need to know. Over twenty-one years, a total of eighty-four young men attended. The influence of this effort has been significant for God's kingdom.
Another way he encouraged others was through the publication of the Living Stones, "calling all to be Living Stones in the house of God". The Living Stones included articles from many men and women from across the Northwest, and western Canada and was published from 1961-1971; it provided encouragement for people isolated in more distant locations.
Clinton lost his wife, Faye, to multiple sclerosis when she passed away on Jan. 4, 1972. She had been a constant companion of faith and a delightfully gifted wife and mother to his children.
During Faye's fight with MS, a foster daughter entered the Brazle family, when Kellock Kumari Nitla came from India to live and help out with Faye's care while she was bedridden. For the next twenty-four years until Kellock's passing in September 2006, she considered Clinton, her Dad.
A short time following Faye's passing, Clinton was introduced by a mutual friend to Delma Louise Barrett Butrum. After a fairy-tale courtship, they were married on July 7, 1972, in Abilene, Texas. Delma brought into the marriage three grown sons, Melvin Dean, James (Jim) Lewis and Herbert Lee.
For the next forty years, Clinton and Delma worked side by side in ministry, conducting fifty Marriage Encounter weekends, and sixty Family Enrichment Seminars throughout the world; lives encouraged and changed due to God's leading in these processes are countless. Delma passed away Sept. 12, 2012.
Throughout Clinton's life, it was apparent that no one was outside the bounds of interest in them on God's behalf. He saw each person through the spectacles of Jesus' love, desiring for each one, the warm love and assurance of hope that he had come to enjoy. His home, his heart and spirit were always open, his arms and talents always ready to serve. He never turned anyone away willingly. His joyful spirit and gift of sharing has taught his children to gift themselves as well.
Whether in small, rural congregations of God's followers, or in larger settings, he has been equally comfortable sharing his faith. He often was tested when he first came to rural places, tested for his practical talents (i.e. working cattle, or swinging a hammer while roofing, etc.) and consistently passed the tests of working alongside, while sharing his love for God. As well as serving as minister, he was also humbly privileged to serve as an elder in several of the congregations where he lived.
Clinton loved to sing. His mother taught him, and he (and his wives) shared this gift with his children. His tenor voice still resonates in our memories.
In spite of his very busy ministry life, he also found time to enjoy pitching horseshoes, creating stained glass, and stamp collecting…which occupied his quiet times. He shared his love of stamps with school children regularly, at a school stamp club he voluntarily initiated. For many years he also participated in a stamp group, the Art Cover Exchange (ACE). He was a student of art (his favourite artist was Charlie Russell) and an avid reader, initially of books related to his life's work, ministry, but also in later life including biographies and history. His favourite book, of course, was the Bible. We have no idea how many times he read it through… his last public reading was given two Sundays ago when he stood, assisted by his son, Paul, to read from Isaiah 53 at the morning worship service at Yellowstone Bible Camp.
Clinton was predeceased by his parents, Retha Margaret 1978, Cloy William 2001, and his brother, Robert Waldo, 1998. He was predeceased by two wives, Quana Faye Guinn, 1972, Delma Louise Butrum, 2012, by two sisters-in-law: Cleona Brazle in 2004, and Barbara Martin in 2015, by two stepsons, Mel in 1984 and Jim in 1998, two sons-in-law: Randy Benoit, in 2000, and David Muller in 2015, and a foster daughter, Kellock Nitla Jones in 2006. He also was predeceased by two unborn children, in 1950 and 1953, and by a great-grandson, Josiah in 2007.
Surviving to honour his memory are daughters and sons: Melinda Benoit, Bozeman, Montana and Ottawa, Ontario, Herb Butrum and wife Alice of Houston, Texas, Marilyn Muller, Dauphin, Manitoba, Mike Brazle and wife Gail of Kimberling City, Missouri, Mark Brazle and wife Jill of Fort Worth, Texas, Paul Brazle and his wife, Carol of Antwerp, Belgium, and Peter Brazle and his wife Janine of Clawson, Michigan, and foster son-in-law, Ben Jones of Calgary, Alberta. Additionally, there are twenty-eight grandchildren, thirty-three great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren (and three more anticipated great-grandchildren) spread around the world.
Special gratitude from each of us to our sister, Mindy, for her ongoing care of Dad for the past several years; we offer our appreciation for her willingness, her skills, and her patient love.
A memorial service will be held 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 4th at Bozeman Church of Christ.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memoriam gifts to "YBC" c/o Yellowstone Bible Camp Foundation, Attn: Frank Arnold, 909 Nevada, Belgrade, MT 59714 or to "Church of Christ", memo: Clinton Brazle Memorial Fund c/o Bozeman Church of Christ, 1825 W. Kagy Blvd, Bozeman, MT 59715.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Sept. 3, 2016