“Sam” Michael Warren Brass


The words that tend to come to mind when hearing Sam Brass are nice guy, easy going, great smile. Sam wasn’t the most outspoken man, he left that to his fiery wife of 40 years, but he was a man that was always there to lend a helping hand, or a cold beer, to those that met his acquaintance. A hanky was always folded in his back pocket, awaiting those shedding a tear, or suffering from a sniffle. And a pocketknife tucked in his front pocket, ensured he was always prepared for “just in cases.” This tall, lanky, kind, generous man will be missed by many.

Sam was born in Helena, Mont., with the given name Michael. Being the eldest of five he had the pressure from his father to become “a man,” so he started working on his father’s poultry farm in his youth. This engrained both a strong work ethic and a strong distaste for chicken. Michael’s youth was also filled with summers of swimming from shore to shore on Seeley Lake at his grandma’s Leisure Lodge, then later in his teens many adventures with fast cars that he “tinkered” on. His smile grew especially wide when telling the story of his most impressive escape. He drove one of his hotrods right up the Helena Capitol’s Buildings steps, then hauled through the Gulch. With blue and red lights flashing in his rearview mirror, he dashed inconspicuously into a buddy’s driveway, killing the engine just in time to see the cops roaring on by. After a few too many close calls, Michael enlisted in the National Guard. Bootcamp not only bulked him up physically, but also bulked up his confidence to marry his high school honey, Candy Savage, whom with he had two beautiful daughters, Dionne and Gail. Working for Ma Bell, climbing telephone poles, provided the means to care for his young family. But as time, and age, has a way of changing people’s direction, Michael and Candy parted ways.

Occasionally work took Michael out of town, in which he happened to stumble into a hole-in-the-wall bar in Conrad, Mont. A feisty, local girl caught his eye, which brought him back to Conrad many a times. After multiple attempts of wooing her, she finally gave in. With this unity not only did Margie Allum change Michael’s life direction, again, but she changed his name deeming him “smiling” Sam.

After Sam took a nasty fall from a telephone pole, landing him in traction, he took another job that would keep him on the ground. Hilde Construction took him on as an Oiler, which meant joining the traveling road crew. Having their daughter, Martina, Margie packed up their bare necessities and joined Sam on the road. For around a decade Sam pulled an 8’X40’ Spartan Trailer behind a 1955 Ford one ton. Experiencing Montana’s beautiful, lush towns around the Rocky Mountains. Across the central rolling prairies. Even to the far eastside desert land, where Sam and Marge had their second daughter, Micki. Sam told many a story of the adventures of trudging their way across the Big Sky Country with the “characters” of the Hilde Crew, which were family. And always with huge grin upon his face and a cold Animal Beer in hand.

A difficult decision was made to say goodbye to the road crew after pulling Martina and Micki out of nine different schools in one year. Sam took a job in Newport, Wash. to help construct Ponderay Newsprint. Liking the area, and wanting to keep his family settled in, he then finagled his way through an interview with HITE Crane and Rigging, where he pulled levers, up until his retirement. Sam worked train derailments, constructed bridges, set and demolished buildings. “Never boring”, Sam would say. He would share crazy, nerve racking tails of his day’s events in a low, steady voice, but never did he brag, which his accomplishments were most worthy of.

Sam’s recent last years were without Margie, or as he would say “my better half.” His gusto lessened, missing his “partner in crime,” but he enjoyed much time with his close neighbors, his daughters, their beaus, and his six grandboys.

A long log of “Samisms” has been compiled over the years. Many of which may not be appropriate in print. But a few that will forever be impressed in the minds of those who adored him: “Think the bottom fell out of it,” “That’s real different,” “Go until it sounds expensive!”

Without a doubt, Sam has found his heavenly hide-away, cozied up in a smoke-filled bar with a perfect pink and juicy steak and two stepping the night away with his Margie.

Sam’s remaining Brass Crew:

Brother, Paul Brass (wife, Dawn Hopkins)

Brother, Eric Brass (wife, Miki Brass)

Brother, Matthew Brass

Sister, Leisa Rebold (beau, Rhett Rebold)

Daughter, Dionne Brass (beau, Terry Gustafson)

Daughter, Gail Bowen (beau, Michael Bowen)

Daughter, Martina Brass (beau, Josh DeVita)

Daughter, Micki Brass (beau, Kevin Persyn)

Grandboys: Rocco Sherman, Ramsey Sherman, Waylon Persyn, Leo Bowen, Samuel Bowen, Henry Bowen