(Oct. 12, 1918 - Dec. 25, 2017)
Laverne “Verne” Brant Solberg died Dec. 25, 2017, at Powell Valley Healthcare. He was 99.
Verne was born on Oct. 12, 1918, to Ludwig and Emily Solberg. He grew up on a farm near Lavina, Montana.
In 1939, on a blind date, he met Dollie Schmittou, the woman he’d marry. He served in WWII as an Army combat engineer and saw action in the Philippines. After the war, he worked in construction.
In 1948, Dollie, Verne and their son Larry moved to Heart Mountain where Verne and his brother Robert both established farms through the Homestead Act. Verne moved barracks from the Relocation Center to build his home. For many years, friend and scholar, Mary Keller brought her students to hear tales of homesteading. Verne’s oral history can be found at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West archives. Verne is also featured in Sharon Yamato’s book, Moving Walls.
With the help of friend Pat Miller, Verne traveled on the Veterans Wyoming Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
In his long life, Verne was a builder, farmer, wrangler, hunter, bridge-player, and trophy-winning bowler. He restored old cars, particularly T-Birds from the ’60s. After retiring, Verne (wagon master and mechanic) and Dollie traveled in RV caravans to Canada, Mexico and every state but Hawaii and Rhode Island.
In his late 80s he asked former daughter-in-law, Carla Solberg to be his helper. Together they shopped, did farm business, attended local events and visited Dollie, who had Alzheimer’s and had been moved to assisted living.
Verne was admired and respected in his community. He was fiercely independent to the end but appreciated the caregivers who helped him stay comfortable and safe in the house he built. Medical issues prompted a move to Powell Valley Healthcare in October 2017, where with many neighbors and friends, he celebrated his 99th birthday.
Verne is survived by his son, Larry and his wife, Donna; granddaughters, Julie and Katie and their families; his caregiver, Carla Solberg; and farm kitty, Newt.
Cremation services have been with Ballard Funeral Home.