John William Brandenburg passed away at his home in Arvada, CO on Sunday, Sept. 4, with his family by his side, after having fought a long battle with serious health issues. He was born June 10, 1934, to Waldemar J. and Marie A. (Ireland) Brandenburg, and grew up on the family ranch in Westcliffe, CO which his grandfather, Moritz Brandenburg, homesteaded in 1880.
His early education occurred in the little one-room Willows School, located about a mile from the Brandenburg ranch. He went on to graduate from Custer County High School in 1952. After serving two years in the United States Army, he enrolled in college under the G. I. Bill, and graduated from Western State College in Gunnison CO, with a degree in Business Administration. While in Gunnison, he met and married his soul mate, Sally Fields.
During his career, John worked for three major corporations: Shell Oil, where he served for two years as an accountant; Firestone Tire and Rubber, for seven years, managing three stores; and he was with Continental Oil Company for eleven years, first as Assistant Manager in Denver, CO, then as District Manager, and finally as Western Regional Retail Salaried Operation Manager. In 1979, he resigned to buy and operate his own business, an Exxon Service Center and Full-Service Car Wash in Littleton, CO, which he held for ten years. In 1989, he sold his business to semi-retire and pursued his hobbies and his devotion to community service.
John was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in which much of his life was centered, but his favorite pastime was working on the family ranch, retaining the ambiance of the 142-year-old Brandenburg homestead while maintaining it as an ongoing working hay and cattle ranching operation.
Much of his retirement was spent in service to his communities. John had a deep love for the Valley and spent countless hours working on projects and concerns he felt would help Custer County remain pristine, environmentally healthy, and beautiful.
He served on the Custer County Zoning Board for four years; was on the Board of Directors of Custer County Medical Foundation and Fremont/ Custer Historical Society Board of Directors; belonged to American Legion, Westcliffe, and for 28 years was a member of Westminster Elks Club. He and his wife, Sally were instrumental in the restoration of the historic Willows Schoolhouse and its placement on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. John was President of the Historic Willows School Society from its inception until 2018 when failing health forced him to retire. He was considered to be the “unofficial but premier” historian of the ranchers and ranches of the Valley, particularly those pertaining to the Willows area and the 1870 Wulsten German Colony.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Waldemar, and Marie Brandenburg. He is survived by his wife, Sally of 63 years; sons, Rod (Lori) Brandenburg and Ken Brandenburg; granddaughters, Katherine Brandenburg and Sara Brandenburg, and numerous other relatives and friends.
John, with his ready smile, spontaneous laughter, knowledge, appreciation of the Wet Mountain Valley, and willingness to serve others, will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 A. M. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Lange Hall in Westcliffe, CO.