Remembering Ken Brett
Submitted fondly by Neil Weintraub and Jeff Morgan
Ken Brett, long time PIT volunteer and supporter, died peacefully at home in Missoula, MT on April 2, 2009. He was 78 years old. Ken's first PIT project was the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Survey on the Kootenai N.F. in 1994 (see photo to right). His last, in 2006, was the Kaibab National Forest's Investigating Cohonina Migration in the Upper Basin. Between those two, he volunteered almost every year contributing 544 hours to 12 PIT projects throughout the West.
Ken was born in Nyack, NY. He earned a B.A. in Spanish/Education from the State University of New York in 1958 and, later, an M.A. from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He, and his wife Carol, taught English in Colombia before moving to Missoula in 1961 where Ken was a professor of Spanish language and literature for nearly 30 years at the University of Montana. During those years, he and Carol traveled extensively, visiting more than a dozen foreign countries.
Ken was an outdoorsman and an artist. He was turkey hunter, bird watcher, hiker, camper, and fly fisherman. He wrote and published poetry in both English and Spanish. He taught himself the arts of watercolor painting and woodcarving as well as how to play the saxophone and Native American flute.
For many PIT volunteers who met him, Ken was a model of making the most of one's advancing years. He preferred remote, rugged country, and his endurance and vigor impressed some people and amazed others. At age 70+, he was signing on to week-long backpacking surveys in the mountains. In 2007, at age 76, he surveyed for a week with two South Kaibab field staffers/graduate students and matched them step for step all day everyday. He was also a model of the quiet, unassuming, highly competent woodsman and keen-eyed observer. He would often see the doe bedded in the understory or the small, perched songbird -- not to mention the artifact -- that others passed by.
Like a lot of us, Ken loved discovering, and learning. He loved hiking and exploring with like-minded companions. He loved wild, untraveled places and the creatures found in them. He loved the quiet of wilderness.
Remembering Ken is a testament to the good people we meet and the great friendships we form through Passport in Time. There are many other volunteers who have participated more often and over a longer span of years. Ken's recent death is a reminder of how we value and honor them all. For those of you who probably worked on a PIT project with Ken or have met someone on a PIT project that fits the above description, please find yourself a Moose Drool beer, and raise your glass to the memory of Ken Brett. (Photo to the left is of Ken Brett and Jeff Morgan)