Charles “Charlie” Frank Brekke passed away peacefully on June 3, 2020 at the age of 86.
Charlie was born on June 29, 1933 in Chinook, MT to Knute and Doris (Allen) Brekke and was the oldest of 10 children. After growing up in Harlem, he graduated from Harlem High School in 1951 and enlisted in the US Airforce in December of the same year. After boot camp he was assigned to the 17th bomber wing of the 34th bomber squadron as an Airman 2nd Class. He went on to serve as a gunner on the B-29 Superfortress, which was shot down in the middle of the night over North Korea on February 4, 1953. He survived the crash only to be spotted by an enemy patrol group who shot him on sight. Fortunately, the bullet lodged in the radio hanging around his neck. He was then captured and placed in a POW camp where he spent seven months, and was released in September 1953 through an exchange of prisoners of war. He was honorably discharged on January 29, 1954 and was awarded the distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for Extraordinary Achievement for his service during the Korean war.
After being discharged, he spent many years working with his father and brothers laying brick and block all across Montana. On December 28, 1957 he married Kay Anderson in Harlem, MT. They built and moved into their home in 1960. After many renovations, it is still in the same location, just a slightly different shape. Charlie and Kay had 3 children: Lindy, Lorie and Casey. Charlie and Kay went on to purchase the United Building Center in 1970 and established the Harlem Lumber Company. They owned and operated the lumber yard and proudly served the hi-line communities for 42 years.
Charlie was an active member of the VFW Post 4744, serving as commander for several years. He was involved in many associations in Harlem, including the Lions Club, New Horizons, Harlem Cemetery & the Harlem Golf Course. He continued to donate and support the schools, civic and other organizations throughout Blaine County. He was a member of Saint Thomas Catholic Church. He could also skunk just about anyone in a game of cribbage.
Charlie is survived by his wife of 62 years, Kay; children, Lindy Brekke of Chinook, Lorie Wagner and her husband Rod of Belgrade & Harlem, Casey Brekke and wife Sonya of Kuna, ID; 7 grandchildren, Sydney, Devon & Lauren Wagner, Madison, Brooklyn, Kevin & Ella Brekke. He is also survived by his siblings, Francis, Alan, Robert “Bruce”, Rick & Donna and his constant companions Lucy and Miley.
He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings Alfred, Harold, Alice, George “Skrud” & grandson Owen Brekke.
Arrangements are being handled by Wilderness Funeral Home, Chinook, MT. Graveside services will be held on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Harlem Cemetery. Reception to follow at the VFW.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Thomas Catholic Church, Harlem Senior Center or the Harlem Golf Course.
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