Donald E. Brocopp passed away at his home on May 17, 2021.
Born in Greeley, Colorado, to Benno Brocopp and Josephine (Domde) Brocopp in 1938, Don lived in a variety of places and, in 1951, settled in Billings. Don graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1957. During this time, Don began a lifelong love for cars and the era itself and was a proud member of the Triers Car Club.
In 1960, Don met Marilyn Nelles and, in 1961, was drafted into the Army. He was stationed in France until receiving an honorable discharge in 1963. It was this experience that rooted him in a patriotism and respect for those who served for the rest of his life. In 1961, while traveling in France, Don was asked to help retire the flags for the day while visiting the cemetery at Normandy, Taps quietly playing in the background. It was a solemn honor.
In 1964, Don and Marilyn were married and spent a brief time in Monterey, California, before returning to Billings, after which Don enrolled in Eastern Montana College on the GI Bill and began part-time work for his father-in-law Ralph Nelles at Intermountain Distributing Company. Ever active, Don was a member of the Veterans Club and played on the varsity golf team before graduating in 1969.
In 1968, Don and Marilyn welcomed their first child, Michele, followed by Tim in 1972. Don would spend 32 years with Intermountain Distributing, cultivating and growing a company that has since passed to his son, Tim, of whom he was very proud. Don’s work ethic was to be admired. He worked hard, took pride in doing it well and jumped in when he needed to, no matter what the job. During his years at Intermountain, Don was active in the industry, including the Montana Beer & Wine Distributor Association. He also served on the board of directors for the Billings Mustangs.
Don and Marilyn traveled frequently with Ted and Lavonne Fink and his brother Joe (Gallea) and wife Joyce. Don was active in his grandchildren’s lives, and loved the outdoors, especially at the cabin in the Silvergate/Cooke City region. His time in the mountains was even more meaningful when the laughter and voices of his grandchildren filled the air. And he never saw a garage he couldn’t organize — the cabin’s was no exception. Don was an avid golfer throughout life and he rarely missed a Tuesday or Thursday at the BCC (Brocopp Country Club) with his lifelong golfing friends.
Ever the consummate jokester, his family and friends were the recipients of a barrage of deadpan wit, childish grins, eye rolling, laughter and surprises — the elixir of life. But on occasion it was he who was surprised. Of note was his 80th birthday when a team of Budweiser Clydesdales greeted him and he could be seen smiling from ear to ear high upon the shiny red wagon, Dalmatian by his side.
But to those who knew Don it was the ’50s and cars that were an indelible part of who he was. He and Ron Duty were involved with the Burn the Point car parade from early on, and attended countless car shows and events around the region. On weekend mornings, he could be found at the Shop for coffee and donuts to share life with those who meant so much to him. He was meticulous when it came to breathing life into a car that had long since been forgotten, and he was very fond of Chevy. To each grandchild, he left a specific car restored with his own hands, a comforting reminder of who he was. And, for those of us who knew him, we are so lucky to have had such a man of quiet strength and faith to join us on life’s journey.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Independence Hall (veterans’ transitional living), 710 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, MT 59105; Nelles Nursing Fund at St. Vincent Healthcare; or Family Service, PO Box 1020, Billings, MT 59103.
Don was preceded in death by his siblings, Shirley Brocopp, Lois Ann Gallea and Robert Brocopp. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; son, Tim and Mindy Brocopp and children Keegan and Tatum; daughter, Michele (Brocopp) Zander and children Quint and Telford; brother, Joe and Joyce Gallea; and sister Bernadine.
A Celebration of life will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, at St. Thomas Church. A Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 23, at St. Thomas Church.