Dan J. Brutger, 84, Side Lake
July 18, 1930 - May 23, 2015
Dan died Saturday in his home at Side Lake near Hibbing, MN. At his side were his wife Barb and other members of his family. Services celebrating Dan’s life will be 10:30am, Thursday May 28 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. There will be a visitation from 4-8pm Wednesday, May 27 at the Williams Dingmann Funeral Home in St. Cloud. Parish prayers will be at 7pm Wednesday at the funeral home.
Daniel Joseph Brutger was born to the late Matt and Josephine Brutger in St. Cloud, MN where he resided most of his life. Growing up in Central MN during the 30’s and WWII, Dan epitomized the characteristics and sentiment that prevailed over the region at that time of hard work, stick-to-it-ness and “can do” attitude. Early jobs at Juneman’s farm on the then edge of town and a paper route laid the foundation for his work ethic which later grew and evolved into leadership abilities and a civic mindedness that enabled him to make meaningful contributions to the business, community, and public sector.
Of course business and public service always revolved around the central part of his life which was family. Shortly after graduating from St. John’s University he married Elizabeth Dufault, on September 30, 1952. Dan and Bette raised seven children. Those children became the beneficiaries and students of the “can do” attitude as they were always supported and encouraged in their endeavors by both Dan and Bette.
Dan’s business and civic contributions, along with honors and awards are too numerous to mention. Over the course of his life he served on many boards and service organizations, along with developing and spearheading numerous private and public projects. A brief representative cross section is as follows: Founded Dan J Brutger, Inc. in 1954 which built and developed single family housing, apartments, and Thrifty Scot Motels; multiple terms on the St. Cloud School District Board of Directors; Regent of St. John’s University; original Chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Commission that oversaw construction and operation of the Metrodome in Minneapolis and Minnesota “Man of the Year” Award.
During his free time, Dan pursued his personal passions of hunting, fishing, and travel. These activities took place with both family and friends, but it should be noted that he especially looked forward to “planning the menu” with his hunting and fishing buddies. Travel was an activity that he always enjoyed. Dan recently noted that he had visited over 100 countries, many of those with his first wife Bette who died in 2008. After Dan married Barb Smilanich on April 16, 2010, together they were able to travel far and wide adding to the list. Dan and Barb traveled internationally until just recently.
Certainly, as far as achievements were concerned, Dan was most proud of having raised seven wonderful children and being fortunate to have two beautiful wives. He is loved not only by Barb and his immediate family of children, but also stepchildren, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and the occasional stray dog.
Dan was an enthusiastic, dynamic, loving individual with a positive attitude towards life who had the ability to share that attitude with those he touched, who were many.
Dan is survived by his wife Barb; children, Alan (Mary) Brutger of Bozeman, MT, Yvonne Brutger and her husband, Dain Rodwell of Livingston, MT, Sharon (Dave) Gustafson of Mundelein, IL, Thomas (Gloria) Brutger of Belgrade, MT, Larry (Cindy) Brutger of St. Cloud, and Paul Brutger of St. Cloud; daughter-in-law, Mary Jane Brutger, wife of Dan’s deceased son, Douglas; sister-in-law, Marie Brutger, stepsons: Randy (Tracy) Baucom of Eden, NC, and Chad (Beth) Baucom of Hibbing, MN; mother-in-law: Verna Deger; 19 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Dan was preceded in death by his wife Bette; son Douglas; brothers, Arthur, Cyril and David; sisters, Bertha Zieglmeier, Sybilla Courtney, Mathilda Eckerson and Rita Gohman.